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The Great White Fleet in Sydney Harbour in 1908

Date: c 1996
Overall: 684 x 535 x 20 mm, 2.8 kg
Medium: Print on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Peter Doyle
Object Name: Photograph
Object No: 00027946
Place Manufactured:Sydney

User Terms

    This photograph shows the Great White Fleet in Sydney Harbour in 1908. A battleship is pictured with a tugboat at its stern and a yacht sailing past. The peace time world tour was primarily a public relations exercise and an expression of American sea power. The arrival of the fleet generated great excitement in Sydney with estimated crowds of between 400,000 and 600,000 turning out to welcome the ships.
    SignificanceThis photograph provides a visual record of the American Great White Fleet's visit to Sydney Harbour, Australia in August 1908.
    HistoryIn December 1907 United States President Theodore Roosevelt sent a US Atlantic Battle Fleet of 16 battleships on a 14 month goodwill cruise around the world. The fleet was a chance for the Navy to practice seamanship and express America's world power. Roosevelt was also concerned about rising Japanese aggression and their expansionist foreign policy. The cruise would be a political and public relations exercise to build domestic support for more naval construction.

    Led by the flagship, USS CONNECTICUT, the Great White Fleet as it became known, consisted of 16 battleships painted white, as was the practice of all US Navy ships in times of peace. The ships sailed in four divisions of four ships each. Early in the voyage the order of the ships was altered to allow the best-looking vessels to be at the front of the fleet. The cruise incorporated six continents, 26 countries and 32 ports with 614 officers and 13,504 crew. It consumed 435,000 tons of coal, more than any other naval expedition and was the largest fleet to ever accomplish a circumnavigation of the globe.

    Australia was not originally on the itinerary route of the Great White Fleet, who only decided to visit after receiving a direct invitation from the Prime Minister Alfred Deakin. One quarter of the Australian population, over one million people, saw the Great White Fleet during its three-week visit to Sydney, Melbourne and Albany. Public holidays were declared and enthusiastic crowds flocked to see the ships and parades. Vast arrays of souvenirs were produced for a population caught up in the euphoria.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: The Great White Fleet in Sydney Harbour in 1908

    Primary title: The Great White Fleet in Sydney Harbour in 1908

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