MARSEILLE, France — USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) hosted a reception here Jan. 13, 2009 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the "Great White Fleet," a historic U.S. goodwill voyage around the world.
During the reception, guests reflected on the historical significance of the "Great White Fleet," and celebrated the enduring relationship between the United States and France.
"I believe that the historic presence of the Great White Fleet 100 years ago sent a very clear and important message," said Rear Adm. William P. Loeffler, United States Naval Forces Europe and Africa Director for Policy, Resources and Strategy. "It is the message that the United States Navy deploys around the world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week assuring friends, deterring potential adversaries and forging cooperative partnerships to improve maritime safety and security throughout the globe."
As the ceremony continued, the partnership between the United States and France became a focal point. "By using events like these around the world we are able to reflect on the past, teach others about the past and also develop a future with our partners," said Loeffler.
The U.S. and French Navies enjoy a close relationship on many fronts. Each year the two countries participate in naval exercises and trainings to share knowledge and maintain their strong relationship.
"We are working very closely with the French," said Capt. Reggie Carpenter, United States Naval Attachh to France. "Some of our engagements include carrier qualifications and fighting piracy."
As Loeffler addressed the crowd of more than 100 guests, he emphasized the significance of this historical event and its message, which still resonates today.
"Though the voyage was 100 years ago, Theodore Roosevelt's 'Great White Fleet' underscores the United States commitment to our international partners and international community while also sustaining a Navy, responsive to the job through the 21st century," Loeffler said.
In 1907 President Theodore Roosevelt sent 16 battleships and 14,000 sailors and Marines on a 14-month journey, conducting 20 port calls on six continents and traveling 43,000 miles. The Battleships were painted white, thus earning the name the Great White Fleet.