Editor’s note: USS Theodore Roosevelt is temporarily delayed in getting underway due to unexpected fouling of seawater piping due to marine growth. It is not uncommon for fouling this time of year in the James River. The rest of the ships in the strike group got underway earlier today.
By Capt. Daniel C. Grieco
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Commanding Officer
On Dec. 16, 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt sent a fleet of 16 battleships from Hampton Roads, Va., on a mission to circumnavigate the globe in a demonstration of American goodwill, power projection and blue water Navy capability. The ships became known as the Great White Fleet because their hulls were painted white in accordance with the Navy’s practice of painting ships white in time of peace. As the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) gets underway today it seems appropriate to recall the Great White Fleet since TR is set to change homeport to San Diego at the conclusion of deployment. This means TR will cruise around the world just like the Great White Fleet dispatched by President Roosevelt so many years before.
Many things have clearly changed since the Great White Fleet’s historic cruise. The Navy no longer maintains battleships in its inventory, and those bruising warships have given way to the aircraft carrier. America’s nuclear powered carriers have also displaced fossil fuel so that scenes of white ships belching black smoke are relegated to history.
There are, however, a few things that haven’t changed. Forward presence is just as important today as it was in 1907. President Roosevelt understood then that a strong Navy capable of promoting and protecting America’s interests around the world was critical to American security and prosperity. TR’s worldwide deployment is another demonstration of America’s commitment and ability to deploy globally to be where she is needed, when she is needed. The Great White Fleet also improved the Navy’s readiness as a whole. During their deployment the fleet improved integrated naval operations and used lessons learned to improve shipbuilding. TR has benefited significantly from this legacy. After coming out of Refueling and Complex Overhaul and conducting a year’s worth of training, TR has never been at a greater state of readiness. The ship’s systems are up-to-date and on the cutting edge. Our Sailors have honed their skills and are razor sharp. TR is ready to fulfill its mission to defend the Nation. See you in San Diego!