April 18, 1908: The Great White Fleet arrived in Los Angeles and stayed until April 25. During these eight days, navy officers and crewmen were treated to a variety of celebratory events around Los Angeles. On April 20, a banquet was held at the Alexandria Hotel. On April 21, navy officers rode in cars for an “automobile parade” in downtown Los Angeles. On April 22, the navy officers attended a large ball at the Shrine Auditorium (the invite). A detailed account of the events were listed in the April 17, 1908 Los Angeles Herald.
At the time, this was the most powerful fleet ever assembled under the American flag as it included 18 battleships, 8 armored cruisers (including the California), 8 torpedo boat destroyers, 2 submarines and various auxiliary vessels. The combined crews totaled about 25,000 men and the cost of maintaining men and ships was $1 million a month.
President Teddy Roosevelt sent the new battle fleet around the world as he had “a deep conviction that only through a strong navy could a nation project its power and prestige abroad.” As relations between Japan and the US became strained, the Great White Fleet’s tour around the served as a signal to the international community that the US Navy could adeptly shift from the Atlantic to the Pacific. [Source: Navy Department Library]