PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Naval Station Pearl Harbor commemorated the centennial of President Theodore Roosevelt's Great White Fleet aboard the USS Missouri Memorial July 18.
Hundreds of Sailors, dignitaries, Navy officials and guests gathered on the memorial to celebrate the Great White Fleet's historic arrival to Hawaii July 16, 1908.
"President Roosevelt would be proud of the many long term positive effects his Great White Fleet has had on our Navy, the nation and the world," said Secretary of the Navy, Donald C. Winter.
"Today, let us all reflect on Theodore Roosevelt's vision and the lessons of the Great White Fleet world tour and let us celebrate the history of the United States and its great Navy."
Rear Adm. Tim Alexander, commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, welcomed guests to the 100th celebration of the Great White Fleet's arrival and described its impact on Hawaii.
On July 16, 1908, 16 battleships painted white with gilded scrollwork on their bows and 14,000 men of the Atlantic Fleet passed by Molokai Island and rendered honors to Father Damian and those at the Hansen's disease (also known as leprosy) colony at Kalaupapa.
"During the Great White Fleet's visit here to Hawaii, they sailed past the Hansen colony on Molokai in tribute to the caretakers and infirm located there," said Alexander.
Three divisions proceeded to the island of Oahu and anchored off Diamond Head crater until July 22, 1908 when the fleet set sail for New Zealand.
"The arrival of the Great White Fleet was really the arrival of American naval power to Hawaii," said Daniel Martinez, Pearl Harbor historian for the National Park Service. "When you have a fleet of that size you have to provision it, refuel it; you also have to have liberty for the Sailors aboard, at the time they were very cramped vessels, and for those reasons the importance of Pearl Harbor began."
After a presentation from President Theodore Roosevelt re-enactor Joe Wiegand, the guests witnessed the rendering of honors by the guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) and the guided-missile frigate USS Crommelin (FFG 37) while four F/A-18 Super Hornet Fighters performed a fly-by.
For one observer, the ceremony and parade of ships was an appropriate way to celebrate the Great White Fleet centennial.
"Today's event was very important to me because I have a strong interest in the Navy and to see this type of event in person and to be a part of it is truly amazing," said Elisabeth Wolf, a chief Sea Cadet with the Sea Cadet Corps.
The Great White Fleet's historic deployment from Dec. 16, 1907, to Feb. 22, 1909, sent a clear message to our allies and adversaries alike that America was now a global power, capable of deterring aggression, operating freely at sea, and able to provide assistance to those in need from whatever nation all over the world.
For more news on the historic Great White Fleet voyage, go to http://www.navy.mil/gwf/.
For more news from Commander, Navy Region Hawaii visit www.navy.mil/local/cnrh/.