As part of the Columbus Day celebrations; (10/7 - 10/19) an exhibition entitled "The Great White Fleet" was held in Vanderbilt Hall in New York Cityís Grand Central Station. Presented by the Columbus Citizens Foundation in collaboration with the Office of the Secretary of the Navy, the exhibition documented the aid given by the Great White Fleet to the Italian people during the devastating earthquake and tidal wave which hit Sicily and southern Italy in late 1908.

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In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt sent 16 battleships, their hulls painted white, to circumnavigate the world in a demonstration of military might and goodwill toward all nations. In December of 1908, as the fleet approached the Suez Canal, Southern Italy and Sicily were devastated by a 7.5 earthquake and huge tidal wave, resulting in over 200,000 dead. The Fleet immediately steamed to help and supply humanitarian aid. Naval personnel helped construct over 3,000 new homes in the ravaged areas.


USS Kearsarge BB-5 1:48 Scale
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I thought the exhibition was very well mounted. As a naval buff, whose motherís family hails from Calabria, it brought to life a forgotten piece of history. But, of course, as a ship modeler the highlight of the exhibition was the two 1/48 models of the USS Maine and USS Kearsarge on loan from the Navy. I only wish my photography could do justice to these magnificent examples of the modelerís art.


USS Maine 1:48 Scale
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John Collier

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