USS Barry docks at Malta for repeat of historic goodwill trip
January 7, 2009
A century ago, the Great White Fleet was on the European leg of a 43,000-mile journey that included 20 port visits on six continents.
President Theodore Roosevelt came up with the idea for the journey, which lasted from Dec. 16, 1907, to Feb. 22, 1909.
Manned by 14,000 sailors and Marines, the purpose of the journey was to show good will around the world. But it also was seen as a demonstration to Japan — which was considered a potential threat — that America could move its powerful Atlantic fleet to the Pacific, a Navy Web site indicated.
Roosevelt even saw the fleet off at Hampton Roads, Va. It was given the name Great White Fleet because its 16 coal-burning battleships and support vessels were painted white.
U.S. Naval Forces Europe and the 6th Fleet are commemorating the European leg of the journey with a port call visit to Malta by the USS Barry and reception on Thursday.
The reception will be hosted by U.S. Ambassador Molly Bordonaro and Rear Adm. Joe Leidig, deputy commander of the U.S. 6th Fleet.
"I think it is kind of special for the Barry," said Cmdr. Douglas Edson, the Barry’s commander. "We are named after John Barry, the father of the Navy. Anytime we can participate in historical celebrations, that means a lot to us."
The Barry also is training with the Maltese military during its visit, and its crew is performing community service around the island, such as cleaning up beaches and some residential areas, Edson said.
Sailors aboard the Barry have turned to the Web to brush up on the Great White Fleet’s history, Edson added.
"It certainly was a very historical event," Lt. j.g. Nate Curtis, Naval Forces Europe and Africa public affairs officer, said about the fleet’s journey. "There are, in fact, celebratory events planned around the globe."
The 6th Fleet has planned two other celebrations in European ports that the fleet visited. The second celebration is in Marseilles, France, on Tuesday, when the USS Mount Whitney will visit that port. And another celebration is planned for sometime in late January in Messina, Italy. The Great White Fleet provided humanitarian assistance after an earthquake devastated Messina.
Other ports that the Great White Fleet visited included Naples, Italy; Rio De Janeiro, Brazil; Manila, Philippines; San Francisco; San Diego; Sydney, Australia; Gibraltar; and Yokohama, Japan.
For more information about the Great White Fleet, go to www.navy.mil/gwf.