Saturday, April 24, 2010

Great White Fleet in Rio de Janeiro

JAN 12, 1908, 5,700 MILES FROM HOME


Wireless Message Tells of Approach to Brazilian Capital

RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan. 11 – The captain of the German cruiser Bremen received a wireless dispatch from the American battleship fleet this afternoon announcing that the fleet is nearing Rio de Janeiro.

The dispatch did not give the position of the American vessels.

Admiral Evans’ Command May Make Trip to Puget Sound Early Next Summer

VALPARAISO, Jan. 11 – A government commission, with Admiral Simpson at the head, will proceed to Punta Arenas on board the cruiser Charabuco to welcome Rear Admiral Evans and the American battle ship fleet to Chilean waters.

Admiral Evans’ fleet may make a trip to Puget Sound, after leaving San Francisco, in the early summer, according to an official statement made at the Navy Department yesterday. Many applications requesting that the fleet visit that section have been received at the Navy Department, which have the strong indorsement of public men.

Fleet Program at Rio

Today Rear Admiral Evans and his officers will go to Petropolis to pay his respects to the American ambassador, Mr. Dudley. They will then be introduced by the American ambassador to Dr. Penna, President of the Brazilian Republic.

Tonight a banquet will be given to Rear Admiral Evans and flag officers.

Tomorrow a luncheon will be given on Mount Corcovado by the minister of marine, Rear Admiral Alencar.

Wednesday the American ambassador and the four flag officers of the American fleet will be guests at the presidential pageant, after which a garden party by the American ambassador has been planned.

Thursday there will be a festival at Rio de Janeiro given by the American colony.

Friday a garden party will be offered at the Naval Club and on Saturday a ball at the Diar Ros Club, at Petropolis, will be given in honor of the American Navy.

The entertainment for Sunday includes a large auto party.

Monday, January 20, a banquet of 600 covers will be offered to Admiral Evans and his men.

Tuesday, January 21, a farewell entertainment will be given aboard the flagship Connecticut.


RIO DE JANEIRO, January 13. – The sixteen great fighting ships composing the American battleship fleet arrived here at 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon. When the fleet arrived off Cape Frio, eighty miles to the eastward of Rio de Janeiro, it was met by the tender Yankton, Lieut. Gheradi commanding, which arrived here last Friday, she having been dispatched from Trinidad in advance of the fleet. The Yankton delivered to Admiral Evans dispatches containing instructions regarding the anchorage of the ships in the harbor here, details of the official plans for the entertainment of the officers and other matters concerning the visit of the battleships.

The voyage of over 3,000 miles from Port of Spain, Trinidad, was unmarred by any serious accident.

The fleet weighed anchor at 4 o’clock the afternoon of December 29 at Port of Spain, and exactly at 4 o’clock yesterday the vessels were swinging at their anchors in this beautiful harbor. All of the battleships are here, but the supply ships Culgoa and Glacier are still at sea, not having been able to keep along with the others. The fleet has now covered about 4,600 miles about a third of the distance of the voyage to San Francisco.

A Magnificent Scene

As the fleet passed the lighthouse on Cape Frio, a signal, set by order of the government, conveyed a welcome from the Brazilian people. As the warships came up the bay every man who could possibly do so was on deck to view the picturesque scenery, for which Rio de Janeiro is noted the world over. Each warship moved to the anchorage position assigned to her, anchors were dropped, and fleet presented a magnificent picture to those having the slightest interest in nautical affairs.

Many Dollars for Tradesmen

A tour of the money changers shows the jackies spent ashore approximately $100,000 in the last four days. About 9,000 men have been ashore, spending an average of $11 each. Hundreds of pairs of light shoes and a great quantity of souvenirs were bought. The shopkeepers welcome the influx. Moving pictures of the arrival of the fleet and of the jackies in the streets are exhibited.

Ambassador Dudley visited the flaghip and lunched on the Connecticut. He also visited the Brazilian flaghip and the Italian and German cruisers, which fired salutes.

President Penna intends to view the fleet on the day of its departure, when it will leave in company with the Brazilian cruisers.

Two hundred and fifty officers attended a smoker last night at the Parque Flumigense, given by American and British residents. A band of fifty-four pieces from the fleet were present and there was a vaudeville entertainment. The total cost was $6,000, and the affair was a huge success.

Alexander McKenzie, vice president of the Rio tramway, gave a dinner to Capt.. Osterhaus, Lieut. Commander McLean and others. The New Jersey’s team has defeated the Rio Athletic Club at baseball.

The Japanese minister is successfully promoting the immigration of 2,000 Japanese to work the rice fields in Rio Janeiro province. A Japanese company will bring the immigrants soon.

Twelve-Oared Cutter Race

There was great excitement among the jackies today over a race between the battleships Minnesota and Louisiana. The course was three miles straightaway, and the Minnesota crew won after a lively struggle. The jackies bet their money on their choice with great enthusiasm, and it is said that nearly $12,000 changed hands as a result of the victory of the Minnesota’s men. The winners will race against a crew from the Illinois tomorrow over the same course.

Sailors in a Riot

Scenes of disorder marked the presence ashore of the sailors from the American battleships last night. Ten sailors were slightly inured in a disturbance at the fleet landing, and the trouble was so serious that the liberty parties were recalled to the ships.

The riot was due to the arrest of a native by the fleet police. The sailors say the man flourished a knife and that the Rio police released him. In the confusion the man, it is alleged, cut two sailors. A great crowd fought the sailors and stones were thrown and knives used. Three hundred sailors and 2,000 natives were in the flight until officers intervened and restored order. The reserve police were summoned.

Eighty sailors were hit by stones. Seaman Doyle of the Louisiana was struck on the head and sent to the hospital. Men were sent through the city offering the sailors back and three natives were arrested. The officers say the liberty order may be revoked or modified.

Distributing Many Dollars

It is calculated that between the buying of supplies for the ships and the money spent on the shore by officers and sailors, not less than a quarter of a million will have been left behind in Rio by the time the vessels sail on their way south, on January 21. These prospects are naturally very pleasing to the tradesmen of Rio Janeiro, who wish the fleet was going to stay longer.

Admiral Evans’ Report

Rear Admiral Evans, the commander-in-chief of the battleship fleet, yesterday reported to the Navy Department that a slight disturbance occurred Monday night on shore at Rio de Janeiro, involving a number of shore liberty men. It was promptly suppressed by a patrol of petty officers and police. Four petty officers were slightly injured. The shore liberty men were directed to return to the ships immediately, and liberty was temporarily suspended. Admiral Evans says that after investigation, however, the granting of liberty was resumed as many as 4,000 men going ashore at a time. The commander-in-chief reports that the men have been received with great cordiality.


RIO JANEIRO, Jan. 14 – Every officer who could be spared from the American fleet came ashore today and was greeted at the landing by Rear Admiral Alecar, Brazilian minister of marine, and his staff. Following formal addresses of welcome the party entered special conveyances and made a tour of the city, after which they went to Mr. Corcovado.

There the Brazilian naval officers and the minister of marine entertained the Americans with an elaborate luncheon which served the purpose of making the American officers better known to their hosts.

Four Thousand Enlisted Men Go Ashore and Are Made Welcome Everywhere

While this was going on, liberty parties of marines and jackets were being entertained by the rank and file from the Brazilian warships in the city proper. The entertainment so far afforded the visitors has equaled anything American sailors ever had. All hands are on their mettle.

There has been no drunkenness and no disorder and the bluejackets from the ships have been made welcome every place they have gone. So far, 4,000 men have been giving shore leave and their conduct is being praised by city authorities.

The city is being policed by 200 masters at arms, detailed from the ships, and under command of Lieutenant C.P. Nelson, of Minnesota. He secured automobiles for his men, and in them they are patrolling, but have had nothing to do. Just to keep their hand in, though, a couple picked up an intoxicated Brazilian soldier, who was spoiling for a fight, and took him to a station, explaining they thought he was better off there. The city police officers did not know what they said, but smiled at them, and took care of the soldier.

Admiral Evans Suffers From Rheumatism, and Has to Decline All Invitations

Admiral Evans is still suffering severely with rheumatism, and is compelled to refuse all invitations for entertainment. He has designated Rear Admiral Thomas to act in his stead.

No foundation has been found for the extraordinary rumor set on foot that the minister of marine had been informed Japanese would try to blow up one of the ships at anchor. Still, the fact remains that the minister of marine has designated special police boats to patrol the roadstead, and all boats are compelled to land their occupants under their direction.

This precautionary measure is undoubtedly responsible for the wild rumor.

Friendship of Brazil: Cordial Greeting of President Penna to American Captains

The following is the toast of President Affonso Penna of Brazil at the luncheon he tendered yesterday to Rear Admiral Thomas, acting commander of the American fleet during the illness of Admiral Evans, and to the captains of the Louisiana, the Minnesota, the Rhode Island, the Connecticut and the Georgia:

“The warm and brotherly welcome which the people of the capital of the republic have given to the powerful American fleet will have proved to all how deep and sincere is the sympathy and friendship that moves the Brazilian nation with regard to her great and prosperous sister of North American.

“These are not ephemeral and occasional sentiments. They came to us from the cradle of our nationality, always growing progressively in the course of time and ever binding more closely the friendly ties and the economical relations of the two countries.

“When the South American nations proclaimed their independence, in that first moment of doubt and vacillation as to the future, the encouragement of the young American republic came to use with the solemn declaration of indestructible solidarity among the peoples of the new world issued by the voice of their great President Monroe, whose name shines in history as that of a statesman of far reaching sight and of rare political prescience.

“The long and difficult cruise of the powerful fleet to which Brazil is host today, its mission of going around the whole American continent, constitutes a new surpassable vigor and of the extraordinary energy of the great people friend of Brazil.

“With my ardent and sincere wishes that the navigation of the friendly fleet continues to be an unbroken record of favorable circumstances, I raise my glass in honor of the glorious American Navy, for the prosperity of the United States of America and for the personal welfare of her eminent chief and great statesman, President Theodore Roosevelt.”


Ships are Ready to Sail

RIO JANEIRO, January 18. Rear Admiral Evans today expressed appreciation of the magnificent reception accorded to the fleet by the Brazilian government and people. A serious attack of rheumatism, from which he suffered soon after leaving the Port of Spain and which has troubled him ever since, has prevented his enjoyment of the many receptions and entertainments organized in honor of the visitors, but has in nowise lessened his appreciation of the efforts of the nation to make the sojourn here a pleasant and memorable one.

Passage Of Magellan

The admiral is now anxious to press on to his destination. All the vessels are shipshape and have taken on their supplies, awaiting only the signal from the flagship to weigh anchor and begin the third leg of the journey to Magellan, a distance of 2,500 miles or more. Punta Arenas on the east coast of the Brunswick peninsula, the most southerly town of any importance of the world, will be the next stop.

Passage of the Strait

Admiral Evans said today that he did not fear any difficult in the passage of the Strait of Magellan by the fleet in regular column formation. The so-called dangers of the strait he does not consider serious, and he believes that the fleet of battleships under his command, with the accompanying flotilla of torpedo boats will make the tortuous trip without a jar.

Squadron Will Have Good Weather For It

With their departure from Rio Janeiro today the sixteen battleships under the command of Rear Admiral Evans enter upon their third stage of their voyage to the Pacific. In this run of 2,230 knots which will terminate February 1, according to the schedule at Punta Arenas, the most southern port in the world, the ships will traverse the hazardous narrows at the eastern entrance to the Strait of Magellan.


Final Salutes are Exchanged and the Vessels Disappear at a Ten-Knot Gait

RIO JANEIRO, January 23. To the booming of guns and the cheers of the thousands on the accompanying pleasure craft, the American warships sailed from Rio Janeiro yesterday afternoon, bound for Punta Arenas, on the Magellan strait. Ten days will bring the fleet almost midway on its 14,000-mile cruise to San Francisco, and the ships and the men carried with them today the godspeed and good wishes of the whole Brazilian nation.

Airship Test

The beginnings of aerial navigation by the Navy may be accomplished in Magdalena Bay, Rear Admiral Evans said. “Before I left Hampton Roads, Rear Admiral Chester informed me that he would try to send one of Alexander Graham Bell’s aeroplanes to Magdalena Bay to meet the fleet in March. I promised all possible assistance. If the aeroplane is sent I will conduct the experiments. Whether aerial navigation will become feasible for military or naval purposes, I can’t say, but I believe it should be investigated; then if practical flying machine is developed we will be the first in the line of progress. I hope Prof. Bell sends the aeroplane.

Excerpts taken from:

The Evening Star Newspaper

Washington D.C.

Courtesy of The Naval Historical Center

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