Great White Fleet's mission resonates 100 years later





Part of the Great White Fleet arrives in Puget Sound in 1908. The fleet was the greatest concentration of warships seen before or since in the Sound.
In our history, the hearts of the American people have experienced certain moments of patriotic pride and joy. These include hearing the news that World War II had finally ended or watching television screens in wonder as an American made history by walking on the moon.

The awe-inspiring deployment of the Navy's "Great White Fleet" 100 years ago was another such moment. In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt conceived the idea of sending 16 battleships on a 14-month around-the-world cruise — a feat never attempted before. Those battleships, with hulls painted white, became known as the Great White Fleet.

This week, Navy ships return to Seattle as part of the centennial celebration recalling the fleet's visit to Seattle May 23, 1908. The port call garnered much attention, with Seattle Mayor John F. Miller presenting Rear Adm. C. S. Sperry with the key to the city (made from Klondike gold). The newspapers were full of stories profiling the ships, the commanders, and Roosevelt's naval and foreign policies.

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