The Great White Fleet

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The officers and men learned a great deal, too. They learned how to get the greatest economy out of their engines, the most mileage per ton of coal. Because they had no navy yards handy, they learned that to a great degree they could maintain their ships themselves. They learned to place their ships accurately on station during tactical drills and battle exercises, and to keep them there. At Magdalena Bay, early in the cruise, Admiral Evans said to one of his captains, “I hope your officers have learned something …” The captain replied, “Thirteen thousand miles at four hundred yards, night and day, including the Strait of Magellan; yes, they have learned a lot!”

More important, the cruise of the Great White Fleet demonstrated beyond question that the United States was now a world power. Those battleships, as they dipped their curved beaks into the rollers of the Pacific, the calm stretches of the Indian Ocean, and the white-flecked Mediterranean, were dramatic evidence of the radical change of course which this country, however unwitting and unwilling, had now taken.