In the last years of his administration, President Theodore Roosevelt ordered a massive US Navy fleet to circumnavigate the globe to project American naval power. The fleet, their hulls painted white, was meant as a showpiece of American goodwill and was to make courtesy calls at a number of ports globally.
Great excitement followed the arrivals of the White Fleet. In Australia, when the fleet arrived in 1908, they were greeted with huge receptions of people: they too liked Australia, and over 200 of them deserted while in Australian ports.
The fleet returned to the United States in 1909. Apart from displaying to the world the rising naval and military power of America, the visits led to improvements in formation steaming, coal economy and morale aboard ships in the naval fleets.
- 1907-12-16 As a gesture of the US's new presence as a world power, President Theodore Roosevelt sends the 'Great White Fleet' on a round-the-world cruise, visiting ports internationally
- 1908-05-05 Great White Fleet arrives in San Francisco
- 1908-05-23 Part of Great White Fleet arrives in Puget Sound, Washington
- 1908-07-07 Great White Fleet leaves San Francisco Bay
- 1908-08-20 America's Great White Fleet arrives in Sydney, Australia, to be greeted with a tremendous welcome; 221 American sailors desert to remain in Australia
- 1909-02-22 Great White Fleet, 1st US fleet to circle the globe, returns to Virginia