Great White Fleet visited S.F. 100 years ago--leaving trail of heavy smoke





The newspapers all said it was the grandest spectacle of the age - that great day exactly 100 years ago today when what looked like the entire United States Navy steamed through the Golden Gate, 16 battleships bristling with guns and trailing plumes of black coal smoke.

It was popularly nicknamed the Great White Fleet, sent on an around-the-world voyage by President Theodore Roosevelt, who famously liked to quote an old African proverb: "speak softly, but carry a big stick."

Perhaps a million people saw the fleet steam in the Golden Gate, and millions more saw it in South America, Australia, Japan, China, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Suez, Italy, Greece and France.

The Great White Fleet was a spectacle on many levels. Sending around the world a fleet this size - those 16 battleships and dozens of escorts - had never been done before.

The ships were painted white with gilt trim to show this was a goodwill voyage. But the message was not lost on other countries, particularly Japan.



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