What Was the Purpose of Great White Fleet?

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The Great White Fleet, a product of the Theodore Roosevelt administration, was unveiled and launched as a symbol of the power and prestige of the United States. Former president Teddy Roosevelt crafted the idea for the Great White Fleet, which contained four squadrons of warships that were commanded by nearly 15,000 naval sailors. The fleet, although impressive and intimidating in size, was built during a time of peace and served as a symbol of power rather than a means of achieving military victory.

President Teddy Roosevelt launched the Great White Fleet on a mission to circumnavigate major oceans and seas around the world in 1907. His decision to create this fleet followed the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901. Roosevelt launched the fleet with the intention of putting on a show of power to demonstrate that while the U.S. was not engaged in warfare, it had a strong and powerful navy that was ready to jump to battle when called upon. The fleet that set sail in 1907 contained many ships that were acquired at the end of the Spanish-American War. The ships were powered by steam and constructed of steel, and remarkably remained intact through a demanding 43,000-mile journey around the world, which took 14 months to complete and included stops at 20 ports on six continents.