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Arrival of the American fleet at Sydney, Australia, 20 August 1908

Date: 1908
Overall: 258 x 1755 mm, 0.15 kg
Medium: Silver gelatin print
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Photograph
Object No: 00027115
Place Manufactured:Sydney

User Terms

    The arrival of the American Great White Fleet tour in Australia in 1908 is depicted in this panoramic photograph. The fleet is shown steaming into Sydney Harbour near South Head. A crowd of onlookers can be seen watching the ships entering the harbour. Fifteen of the sixteen battleships can be seen from this vantage point. The photograph was taken and printed by Exchange Studios located at number 2/ 49 Pitt St Sydney.
    SignificanceThis photograph captures the anticipated and celebrated arrival of the American Great White Fleet to Sydney in August 1908, providing a snapshot of Sydney Harbour's development and the enthusiastic reception Sydney crowds gave to the fleet.
    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: Panorama of the arrival of the Great White Fleet to Sydney in 1908

    Primary title: Arrival of the American fleet at Sydney, Australia, 20 August 1908

    Related People
    Photographer: Exchange Studios

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