Real mission of the 1907-1909 US Great White Fleet, what was it?

KorbenDallas

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#1
I came across this US Great White Fleet while writing an article about the fiery San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Something did not feel right about this “victory lap”, or “inspection patrol” conducted by the US Navy betwen 1907 and 1909.

The Great White Fleet was the popular nickname for the powerful United States Navy battle fleet that completed a journey around the globe from 16 December 1907, to 22 February 1909, by order of United States President Theodore Roosevelt.

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The fourteen-month-long voyage was a grand pageant of American naval power. The squadrons were manned by 14,000 sailors. They covered some 43,000 nautical miles (80,000 km) and made twenty port calls on six continents.

Map of the Great White Fleet's voyage (2009 political boundaries shown)
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Beginning in the 1880s with just 90 small ships, over one-third of them wooden and therefore obsolete, the navy quickly grew to include new modern steel fighting vessels. The hulls of these ships were painted a stark white, giving the armada the nickname "Great White Fleet".

Triumphal Arches
Triumphal arch, a monumental structure pierced by at least one arched passageway and erected to honour an important person or to commemorate a significant event. It was sometimes architecturally isolated but usually was built to span either a street or a roadway, preferably one used for triumphal processions.
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whitefleet-gate.jpg Great White Fleet_welcome_arch_1.jpg Great White Fleet_welcome_arch_2.jpg

Great White Fleet Parade Activities

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Great White Fleet_parade_1.jpg
Fleet’s mission was to make friendly courtesy visits to numerous countries, while displaying new U.S. naval power to the world.

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It consisted of 16 battleships divided into two squadrons, along with various escorts.

The hulls were painted white, the Navy's peacetime color scheme, decorated with gilded scrollwork with a red, white, and blue banner on their bows.

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The purpose of the fleet deployment was multifaceted. Ostensibly, it served as a showpiece of American goodwill, as the fleet visited numerous countries and harbors.

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But the same wiki article states, “Roosevelt sought to demonstrate growing American martial power and blue-water navy capability.

* * *

Question: what does this military voyage look like to you? To me it resembles a parade lap of sorts. Why would 20 nations be so eager to see such a force at their doorstep?

At this point it does not appear to be a combat related event; too much glamour involved.

But if it is an inspection by show of force / parade lap, what are they “inspecting”?

P.S. Hate posting new topics using my phone. Will probably adjust the format later on.
 

PrincepAugus

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#2
I love it when the topic of 19th century-20th century ships are discussed. They're very beautiful machines!

A showing of power through bragging rights? I don't know.
 

flameto

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#3
Hm idk about any secrets behind this, but it seems like a worldwide demonstration of strength from the new imperial power on the block. Having an abstract conception of American power is very different from having a massive battle fleet in your harbor. This was shortly after the US took Cuba and the Philippines from the Spanish.

I love the idea that a battle-fleet is a "showpiece of goodwill."

Also, fwiw I'm pretty sure that welcome arch did not reflect the sentiments of the Filipino people.
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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#5
I think this can only be fully understood through the analysis of the world events preceding, and accompanying this voyage. Cuba and Manila do not justify the below itinerary imo.

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There were very significant things happening in the world just prior. We have same old 1906 San Francisco demolition, 1905 earthquake in India (100,000 building destroyed), some 1905 revolution in Russia, and what not. We can obviously explain single things from the traditional stand point. Can we explain the entire totality though?

Like what a coincidence? Italy and India are within their route and both suffer some devastating earthquakes. Italian earthquake info is below.

white fleet tour 1906-09.jpg


Messina Earthquake, 28 December 1908
Forum thread: 1908 Messina destruction: earthquake or guns?

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messina_earthquake_1.jpg messina_earthquake_2.jpg messina_earthquake_3.jpg messina_earthquake_4.jpg
 

Apollyon

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#6
I'm always on the lookout for interesting information on the Spanish American war especially the so called reconcentrado. We have some very strange and provoking photographs of the events. William Randolph Hearst who's mother saved the expo buildings in California. He was fearcly adamant that something be done about the mass deaths in Cuba. He was painted as a fraud afterwards and his fortune declined if I'm not mistaken.

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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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#7
I think it was like in 1890's.

cuba_1899.jpg

A bit before the fleet, if the official time schedule is correct. These Cuban skeletons would make a great thread of their own. Please let us not mix events. If we are trying to conduct some sort of investigation, mixing stuff up into one pile will make things very convoluted.
 

whitewave

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#9
What did those places have that we wanted or who was in charge of those places and not respecting our author-a-tie? There has to be motive.
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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#10
Hmm, if so, then the whole Great White Fleet "parade" around the world was actually a massive military campaign to shell these areas?
May be not the ones who built a “welcome arch”.
What did those places have that we wanted or who was in charge of those places and not respecting our author-a-tie? There has to be motive.
I think that would be a question for the British Crown. Something tells me that this is where the brains are.

What’s important, it’s taking the world revamp into the 20th century. It also gives us a date. We just need to figure out what to do with it.

Also would be interesting to figure out who else got shelled between 1907 and 1909.
 

dreamtime

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#11
Maybe it was a "Let's see how the world looks now that we have eliminated all independent empires and see if there's still something left" tour.
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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#12
Maybe it was a "Let's see how the world looks now that we have eliminated all independent empires and see if there's still something left" tour.
Wouldn't it be an overkill to go on a 14 months tour with a fleet of this size just to see what the world looks like. A handful of intelligence gatherers could have done the job much faster, and cheaper, imo. Demonstration of force could definitely be one of the goals, but was it the only one?
 

whitewave

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#14
I posted links on the Messina thread that would probably answer what the fleet was really doing. It had to do with a ship full of gold-sunk, of course. Would be worth about 1 billion in todays dollars. Lots of important, powerful people on board-financial sorts- (all rescued-AFTER the rescue ship went to see how the gold-carrying ship was doing). There was some sort of loan/contract with Russia that caused all sorts of problems with the rescue effort and then a SECOND ship also sank. That's just a whole lot of bad luck in one place. By 1940 the story of the ship full of gold was considered a legend/myth but numerous articles at the time all reported on it. Probably telling the plebs that it was a myth until technology could be developed that allowed the government to get it first.
 

whitewave

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#16
So-called rescue effort. Don't neglect the footnotes-very interesting tidbits tucked into them. Why were all these financiers on board a rescue ship? Why did it take so long to get to the rescue site? (compare date of catastrophe to date they arrived even though they reported being only 18 hours away). What was the Russian contract/loan issue about and why would it cause delays in rescue effort? Although the gold was widely reported on from several sources at the time, only 20 years later it was declared a myth/legend (I suspect until technology could be developed that allowed the government to get to it first). Why did the second rescue ship ignore the passengers that needed rescuing to go check on the gold-laden boat first?
Lots more to this story and the writer has done his homework and presents the documentation.
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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#17
Apologies, I’m not buying this ship of gold. Not even 10 ships of gold. If this “earthquake” only locally struck Messina in 1908, it still would not make sense to me. 100,000 dead is a little overkill. But apparently we have s whole bunch of other places with a very similar fate at the time. Check out the west coat of South Amerika “earthquake” carnage.
 

whitewave

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#18
It may not explain the Messina incident but I think it explains the White Fleet mission very well. Never let a good crisis go to waste.
Post automatically merged:

The White fleet consisted of 16 battleships, 14,000 sailors.


Great White Fleet Data
16 Battleships
7 "Torpedo Fleet" Destroyers
5 Fleet Auxiliaries
14,000 Sailors

Sailors from the Battle Fleet searching the ruins of Messina,
Sicily, for the bodies of Consul Gen. Cheney & wife, Jan. 18, 1909
***14,000 sailors there to rescue 1-2 people....or to make sure they're dead?***

"Mr. Connolly said that a few days ago he dined at the White House, and that the President was planning the welcoming home of our fleet, which will arrive here on Feb. 22. The writer predicted that it will be the greatest reception ever given a fleet. While Mr. Connolly would not go into details, he gave as his opinion that it was essential for this country to maintain a fleet in the Pacific. He dined recently with the President and he say that Mr. Roosevelt expects to make the reception of the fleet one of the greatest marine spectacles on record. Mr. Connolly said he believed in having a big battle fleet for the Pacific, as there probably would be more need for it there than on his coast." (How very prescient of Roosevelt) Also, 3 previous ships had brought in over 1200 tons of food/supplies for the relief effort less than 2 weeks earlier but the Republic was now bringing in 500 tons more because they had exhausted their supplies. Who knew 100,000 dead people could eat so much? See the Messina thread for population of Messina in 1900.

Notice rail cars entering pier
notable passengers: General Brayton Ives, President of the New York Stock Exchange, Director of the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Co., National Bank of Commerce , and other major banking and corporate institutions, accompanied by valet;
Mr. James Ross Mellon
millionaire president of both the Mellon National Bank and the City Deposit Bank of Pittsburgh, with wife and daughter;
Mrs. Alice Morse Earle
writer known for many stones of life in Colonial days in New England;
Mr. Samuel Cupples
St. Louis millionaire, with daughter Mrs. William Scudder, and three grand-daughters.
Mr. Eugene Lynch
successful businessman of Boston, with wife;
Monsignor Paul Burchesi
Archbishop of Montreal;
Mrs. Andrew J. Peters
wife of a Representative from Massachusetts;
Mrs. John Thomas Davis
sister-in-law of West Virginia's Senator Elkins;
Senator Arthur L. Clark
former state Senator from Connecticut, with wife;
Mr. W. J. Mooney
president of Cavalier County National Bank of North Dakota, a founder of Langdon North Dakota, and reportedly the wealthiest man in the Dakotas, with wife;
Mr. George B. Winship
editor of the Grand Forks Herald, later became U.S. Senator for North Dakota, with wife;
Mrs. H. L. Griggs
wife of Herbert L. Griggs, president of the Bank of New York;
Mr. J. W. Ward
treasurer of the Hammerstein opera houses;
Mr. James B. Connolly
winner of the first title for the United States in the first modern Olympic Games, author of sea stories, with permission of President Roosevelt to meet the fleet at Gibralter;
Mr. Reuben Miller
president of the Crucible Steel Co. of Pittsburgh, with wife and daughter-,
Prince Victor Narayan of Cooch-Behar, India;
Count Rasponi, Countess Pasolini, and many others.
RMS Republic had just come back from dropping off their supplies to Messina, docked in New York to pick up the above passengers. Wonder what they brought back with them from Messina?



Part of her freight cargo is known to have consisted of somewhere between 410 and 650 tons of military supplies (not relief supplies) consigned to the Supply Vessel Culgoa of the Great White Battleship Fleet, then at Gibraltar. At least a part of these supplies were to replace the fleet's supplies which had been distributed to the earthquake victims at Messina. As she proceeded through a thick fog off Nantucket, the REPUBLIC was struck at 5:40 am. Saturday, January 23, on the port (left) side amidships. "I knew that human lives had been sacrificed in the crash of the fog-bound ships." ***Interesting choice of words***The FLORIDA, an Italian registered vessel, reportedly lost in fog and 30 miles off course, had also penetrated the REPUBLIC's engine room and extended the damage to below the waterline.***Were they trying to retrieve their treasure and rammed the Republic in a naval battle? The collision between the Republic and Florida became the world's first "live" media event.

Almost immediately after the loss of the Republic and her Government cargo, Fleet Paymaster McGowan acquired transport from the flagship, then at Villefranche, to Marseilles where he negotiated the provision of food stores sufficient for the Fleet to complete its cruise to Hampton Roads, in the amount of 247,060 francs ($47,682.58). The contract required the pay officers of the respective ships to pay upon delivery "according to the prices hereinbefore stated, in French gold; provided, however, that payment for the provisions delivered to the U.S.S. GEORGIA, U.S.S. NEBRASKA, U.S.S. NEW JERSEY and U.S.S. RHODE ISLAND may be made in British gold at the American equivalent, (the pound sterling being worth $4.8665 and the franc being worth $0.193)." United States Atlantic Fleet, Contract for Fresh Meats and Fresh Vegetables at Marseille [sic], France, February 1, 1909, NARA RG 143, File 104151. This additional expenditure, too, is also NOT reflected within our analysis of the possibility of a loss of US Government funds, infra; the funds expended for this purpose may have required replacement once the Fleet arrived at Hampton Roads and, therefore, may also be a part of the $800,000 delivered to the Fleet upon its arrival in the US. See: Other Cargos, Navy Payroll and Operational Funds.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24. - The Navy Department's stores aboard the Republic destined for Admiral Sperry's battleship fleet, were valued at $61,000. The stores were to have been taken to Gibraltar by the Carmania, but for some reason this plan was changed1 and they were sent on the Republic. It will be impracticable for the navy to start a fresh cargo in time to meet the battleship fleet at Gibraltar before it departs for the United States [emphasis added by MGB for relationship to possible on-board Navy monies] and the admiral may purchase his meats and other supplies from those aboard the Celtic, which has been sent to Italy for the sufferers, the money to be paid for them being used for other purposes.

The crippled Republic passengers were transferred to the less damaged Florida then the Republic began to sink while the survivors awaited rescue on their temporary refuge, The Florida. ***Prisoners of war?***It took 12 hours for The Baltic to arrive to rescue the passengers and 10 hours to transfer them all aboard from the damaged Florida. Passengers luggage was not transferred. ***Spoils of war?***

The Cunard Liner Carmania, also on Mediterranean service, departed New York on January 21, 1909, the same day the Russian Loan was originally scheduled to close. However, the Russian Loan was delayed a day, and closed on January 22, 1909, the day the Republic sailed. If the Russian gold was intended to be shipped to Russia via Gibraltar, but Russia had not received title until the loan closed, this could be the explanation for the rescheduling of the US Navy's shipment. If the Republic carried a cargo for the Russian government and was to transfer this shipment to the Russian battleships then at Gibraltar, the off-loading of US Navy supplies at the same time would enhance (make less conspicuous) the security of the transfer.

2 other ships tried to tow the Republic but it sank into 260 feet of water and was abandoned. It was the largest and most technologically advanced vessel to sink to that time and the second largest of her era. She was succeeded only by another White Star Liner, TITANIC, which was to sink just three years later.

Meanwhile, a meeting is held at the port in New York with primary bean counters.
E. S. Fowler, the Collector of Customs for the Port of New York, was responsible for reporting the imports and exports of gold and silver which had taken place at New York to both the U. S. Mint and the Bureau of Statistics in Washington.
"COLLECTOR OF THE PORT OF NEW YORK - Federal official in charge of collecting the import duties on goods coming into the United States via New York, [in 1909] the busiest port of entry in the nation. The collector is appointed by the President and reports to the Secretary of Commerce. Local party leaders in New York City, who preferred that the collector be someone who would turn a blind eye to the party's corruption in admini-stering the customs facility, usually suggested particular individuals to the President for consideration." Source, Glossary: http://www.americanpresident.org
Journal of Commerce's total tonnage is, for some reason, fifteen (15) tons greater than the Navy's internal net tonnage for its shipment of food stores. The New York Times, January 25, 09, 3:5, too, increased its figure for the loss of Navy cargos from its original 500 tons to 650 tons .
We have not found any explanation for the change in shipment from Carmania to Republic. The change may be related to the dates of closing for the 1909 4-1/2% Russian Loan, originally scheduled for January 21, 1909 (the Carmania's departure date), but the closing date was delayed a day. The Journal of Commerce, Memorandum and Bills of Lading were consistent with one another in their descriptions of the Navy cargo, EXCEPT for the 421 total tonnage identified by the Journal of Commerce.

This item produces an anomaly. The difference between the Unit Net Weight and Unit Gross Weight for the 160 pound half-barrels of smoked ham suggests that an empty half barrel - by itself - would weigh an unlikely 69.29 pounds to ship 90 pounds of smoked ham, when the barrels and crates used to ship potatoes weighed only 13.72 pounds for their 140 pound contents, and the boxes (gold coin) and kegs (gold bars) used to ship gold weighed only 16 pounds for the 144 pounds of their contents (A keg of gold bars also weighed 160 pounds). The possibility that this anomaly may be attributable to a gold bar shipped-in-kegs shipment is discussed at Other Cargos, Gold and Silver Bars.
" there was a gold cargo aboard, the Navy payroll, but it was removed - to protect the valuable cargo of a World War II ally. (See: Concealment)
The possibility of cargo removal from the Republic is discussed at length later in this Report".****That, or it was plunder from Messina***
 
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KorbenDallas
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#20
Are you talkibg about this one at 15:15 on the Civil War monitor?

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I did not have time to watch the entire video yet. Are they running 1860s ships for some parade purposes in the 1900s?

I believe some of the footage they would not need to alter. Who can say what this flag really is? It resembles the US flag but as we know quite a few things could be displayed on it.
 
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