Three vessels, part of the United States Navy's "Great White Fleet" pictured in Sydney Harbor in 1908. File Photo courtesy Australian National Maritime Museum/UPI
OLD POINT COMFORT, Va., Feb. 22, 1909 (UP) -- President Roosevelt made the following welcoming address Monday afternoon on board the Mayflower to Admiral Sperry and staff, and later repeated the speech on the flagship:
"Over a year has passed since you steamed out of this harbor, and over the world' rim, and this morning the hearts of all who saw you, thrilled with pride as the hulls of the mighty warships lifted above the horizon.
"You have been in the northern and the southern hemispheres; four times you have crossed the line; you have steamed through all the great oceans; you have touched the coast of every continent. Even your general course has been westward; and now you come back to the port from which you set sail.
"This is the first battle fleet that has ever circumnavigated the globe. Those who perform the feat again, can but follow your footsteps.
"The little torpedo flotilla went with you around South America, through the straits of Magellan, to our Pacific coast. The armored cruiser squadron met you and left you again, when you were half-way around the world.
"You have falsified every prediction of the prophets of failure. In all your long cruise, not an accident worthy of mention has happened to a single battleship, nor yet to the cruisers or torpedo boats.
"You left this coast in a high state of battle efficiency, and you return with your efficiency increased; better prepared than when you left, not only in personnel, but even in material.
"During your world cruise you have taken your regular gunnery practice, and skilled though you were before with the guns, you have grown more skillful still; and through practice you have improved in battle tactics, though here is more room for improvement than in your gunnery.
"Incidentally I suppose I need hardly say that one measure of your fitness must be your clear recognition of the need always readily to strive to render yourselves more fit: if you ever grow to think that you are fit enough, you can make up your minds that from that moment you will begin to go backward.
"We are proud of all the ships and all the men in this whole fleet, and we welcome you home to the country whose good repute among nations has been raised by what you have done."