Shilling alert: Over at The New Ledger, fellow USNI contributor Craig Hooper and myself have a new piece advocating for the creation of a second Great White Fleet.

The United States can do anything, but it cannot do everything. With our attention and resources already committed near capacity around the globe, the U.S. needs strong partnerships to build a more resilient, secure world. A new Great White Fleet is an opportunity to build the relationships we need to face the threats of the coming decades. Describing the original Great White Fleet before its departure, U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Robley Evans proclaimed that “we are ready at the drop of a hat for a feast, a frolic, or a fight”. In the 21st century, the world knows America can fight. It is time we remind the world we can feast and frolic as well.

Check it out.

Posted by Christopher Albon in Navy, Soft Power

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  • Chuck Hill

    China v. US, Great Power competition in doing good. That could be interesting.

  • Matt Yankee

    I don’t disagree…but the ships which made up the great white fleet were battleships with the primary purpose of defeating the greatest of warships of the time. China has deployed ONE hospital ship and as mentioned in the previous blog it is perfectly suited for a Taiwan invasion operation for their own use. This could be a good idea only if they had dual purposes for real use in likey contingencies. In this age of asymetrical warfare it might be interesting to hide a large VLS capabliity or Spec. Ops use although the lawyers would never allow it. What about painting some Burkes white and making a scene with existing ships? Or use the new CG offshore cutters and build more of the smaller, less expensive ships to have the presence for a fraction of the cost. It would be interesting to know just how much time the sailors of the Great White Fleet spent ashore doing the PR work.

  • Jim Dolbow

    Great article shipmates!!!

  • Byron

    Who’s budget is this PR stunt coming out of?

  • Chuck Hill

    If we gave the Offshore Patrol Cutters a true flex deck they could take on that role as well as doing other partnership station duties. Plus they would be ready to respond to domestic emergencies, and fulfill the hospital ship role in wartime.

  • leesea

    Chuck I don’t know if the OPC would be big enough? however I also don’t think that the USN has defined the GFS very well. Of course blue water sailors always want a warship~~ Being a sealifter, I have always assumed “long term prescence” requires endurance? In that area naval auxiliaries and sealift ships are best. You are right that a Flexdeck would help varying missions.

  • Matt Yankee

    What about using the humanitarian card to build additional ships for this proposed fleet (charge the fleet and the operating costs to the State Dept…lol). I think that would sell to the public and give the economy a shot in the arm and give the USN some additional critical N strength. Flexdeck is a must. I prefer warships for this purpose just as they did in the Great White Fleet primarily b/c they would likely be close to the action wherever the action is and therefore need to switch missions quickly instead of running from a fight. If we had 18 ships in this fleet they would bring deterrence in numbers…and provide a humbling sight even if they weren’t the most advanced.


    Here’s an idea. Take three (or six) used self unloading containerships. Fill them with containers filled with humanitarian assistance stuff (tents, food rations, blankets, etc.). Include lighterage. Deploy one each with the three MPS Squadrons (so they are prepositioned around the world). Now, when you need to do disaster assistance, you send a tailored package from the MPS squadron that is closest. Since each current MPS squadron can support a MEB, a SeeBee BN, an expeditionary airfield, and a Field Hospital for 30 days, if you add relief supplies, you have everything you need. Relatively inexpensive, adds additional capaciity to the MPS Squadrons that would be useful in wartime missions (dealing with NEO, IDPs, Refugees, etc) as well as Humanitarian Assistance, doesn’t require something new and doesn’t require any additional personnel (outside the few Merchant Mariners to run the ships). Fly (and/or use your nifty new catamaran ferries) to bring in the right people for your planned operations. Cheap, sensible, easy, and leverages existing capacity and organizations. And you don’t need to waste time, effort, or resources on a new “Great White Fleet”. You could paint the ship white if you wanted but I don’t see why, grey or black and tan works fine.

  • Byron

    I’m going to ask you again: who’s going to pay the bill for this Great White Elephant Fleet? The manpower, fuel and repair bills have to come from somewhere. What ships will be taken from places they really need to be at to go do what amounts to a big PR “lets get people to love America” trip? If the State Department wants to dry lease some Merch’s and staff them with their people and use their budget, I don’t have a problem with that.

    Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are in the “breaking things and killing people” business…not the “we want you to love us” business.