VALETTA, Malta — A ceremony held aboard USS Barry (DDG 52) Jan. 9 commemorated the 100th anniversary of the "Great White Fleet" voyage, a historic U.S. Navy goodwill voyage around the world that included a stop in Malta in January 1909.
The ceremony, held aboard Barry was hosted by the U.S. Ambassador to Malta, the Honorable Molly Bordonaro and U.S. Sixth Fleet Deputy Commander, Rear Adm. Joe Leidig.
Guests learned about the history of the Great White Fleet and celebrated the history between the U.S. and Malta both 100 years ago and now.
"It was 100 years ago in January 1909 that the Great White Fleet called on Malta near the end of its voyage of goodwill around the world," said Bordonaro. "Just as the voyage of the Great White Fleet demonstrated to the world the United States friendship and its commitment to enhancing multi-lateral relations, this week's visit of USS Barry reflects the strong collaborative relationship shared by the U.S. and Malta."
In the 100 years since the Great White Fleet's visit, added Bordonaro, the U.S. and Malta have worked closely to keep the seas safe for travel and trade.
While the ceremony aboard Barry marked a century-old happening, the future of U.S. and Maltese relations became a focal point of the evening.
"I believe the historic deployment of the Great White Fleet 100 years ago sent a clear and important message that still resonates even today," said Leidig during his speech at the ceremony. "It is that the U.S. Navy deploys around the world 24-seven, assuring friends, deterring potential adversaries, and forging cooperative partnerships to improve and maintain maritime security and safety worldwide."
Leidig impressed upon the more than 100 guests at the reception that while it is important to remember and honor the past, it was more important to focus on the future "and our commitment to work with partners like Malta" protecting rights to operate freely at sea, and providing worldwide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
"Honoring the 100th anniversary of Theodore Roosevelt's Great White Fleet deployment underscores our commitment to our international partners and international community while also sustaining a Navy responsive to the challenges of the 21st century," said Leidig.
In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt sent 16 battleships, including 14,000 sailors and Marines on a 14-month journey to demonstrate to the world the United States' friendship and its commitment to enhancing multi-lateral operations. The journey visited 20 ports of call on six continents and traveled 43,000 miles. Because the ships were painted white, the fleet was soon known as the "Great White Fleet."
USS Barry is an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer home ported in Norfolk, Va. The ship is in its fifth month of a regularly scheduled six-month deployment. In addition to ambassadors and representatives from around the world, Maltese Rural Affairs Minister George Pullicino and Peter Darley, a local businessman whose great grandfather took part in the Great White Fleet voyage, were in attendance.