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Navy marks 'Great White' launch

Dec. 17, 2007 at 6:56 AM

NORFOLK, Va., Dec. 17 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy celebrated the centennial of the launching of the 16 battleships of the Great White Fleet in Norfolk, Va.

U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt pushed for the creation of the fleet, which he intended as a show of U.S. maritime power, the Newport News (Va.) Daily Press reported Sunday.

Saturday was the 100th anniversary of the day the ships -- and their more than 14,000 sailors -- set off on a 43,000-mile odyssey to six continents to impress potential rivals and allies with American naval might.

At an event Saturday commemorating the launch, Navy Secretary Donald Winter and chief of naval operations Adm. Gary Roughead praised Roosevelt for his foresight in launching the fleet.

"It's not possible to improvise a Navy after war breaks out," Roughead said.

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