The Pathfinders

President Roosevelt had decided to significantly build up the standing of the Pacific Fleet.  The 16-battleships of the Atlantic Fleet would sail around the world, but the size and strength of the Pacific Fleet would need to be bolstered.  Additionally, having a strong Pacific Fleet during the cruise of the battleship fleet, would be a further deterrence to aggression for Japan to consider.  At the end of this build-up more than 24-ships would be added to the Pacific Fleet.

The first major transfer of ships was the new armored cruisers Washington and Tennessee.  These new cruisers were designed with four 10-inch guns in twin turrets and were capable of doing 22-knots.  They were built in response to foreign developments to move from fast scouts and convoy escorts to capital ships that could engage in battle at sea.  The Battle of Tsushima in 1905 presented a clear need for this change.

On October 11, 1907, Washington and Tennessee left Hampton Roads as Special Service Squadron with Rear Admiral Uriel Sebree hoisting his flag on the Tennessee.  Captain T. B. Howard was in command of Tennessee, and Captain A. M. Knight of Washington.  The squadron was know as "The Pathfinders" as they would travers the course to be used by the battleship fleet starting in December 1907.  Below is the itinerary that the ships completed after leaving Hampton Roads..

The postcard at right are part of a series of cards that were published by Allen Fanjoy showing the USS Tennessee and USS Washington with garlands of roses.  To see more of this collection follow this link.

PortDate ArrivalDate of Departure
Port of Spain, TrinidadOctober 18, 1907October 24, 1907
Crossing the LineOctober 28, 1907October 28, 1907
Rio de Janeior, BrazilNovember 4, 1907November 10, 1907
Montevideo, UruguaryNovember 13, 1907November 19, 1907
Punta Arenas, ChileNovember 23, 1907November 27, 1907
Calao, PeruDecember 5, 1907December 12, 1907
Acapulco, MexicoDecember 19, 1907December 22, 1907
Pichilinque, MexicoDecember 26, 1907December 28, 1907
Magdalena Bay, Mex.December 29, 1907January 1908


The below card shows the baseball teams from the Washington and Tennessee competing in Magdalena Bay on November 8, 1908.  This was after the battleship fleet had visited Yokohama, Japan.

On January 1, 1908, in Magdalena Bay, Rear Admiral Sebree assumed command of Second Division, First Squadron, of the Pacific Fleet.  USS California and South Dakota joined the Division in Magdalena Bay creating a force of four armored cruisers.  This Division would then head north along the Pacific Coast visiting San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Pedro, San Francisco, Monterey, Redondo Beach, Venice, Angel Island, and then to the Northwest visiting Port Townsend, Port Angeles, Seattle, Tacoma, and Bremerton.  The were among the ships seen by the Secretary of the Navy at the Naval Review in San Francisco on May 6th, 1908.


Above is a real photo postcard of sailors on the USS Washington.  "This photograph was taken the day after we arrived in Frisco after our long trip.  Say Lizz as soon as you get this write and give me Dave's address.  From W. B. Donahue, Gunner's Mate, USS Washington, San Francisco, Cal.  To Postmaster."  "Next time you see March give her my best and tell her I would like very much to hear from her."  Don't forget to remember me to March will you."  On the Back, "Dear Lizz,  Received your letter tonight.  Haven't hardly time to write a letter now but will tomorrow or next day.  Will also send some postals.  What are you doing in Chicago.  Write soon, Salt."  W. B. Donahue, Gunner's Mate Third Class can be found in the roster provided by the Grand Ball Menu below.


The second Division of the Pacific Fleet visits the northwest

This group of photo postcards show units of the Second Division visiting Puget Sound.  All of the cards were made by local photographers that were active in and around Seattle.


The above postcard shows the USS Washington while she was still on the east coast.  The card is postmarked in Philadelphia, where the Washington was commissioned, on May 16, 1907 which was 10-months after commissioning.

From the emblem on the upper left of the card, this might have been a single issue card for the crew to mail home.

The booklet above was printed for the Grand Ball given by the crew of the USS Washington while visiting Seattle on April 24, 1908.  The event was held at the Leschi Park Pavilion in the evening and include 18 dances that included the waltz and two step.  The booklet includes the names of the entire crew, the ports they had visited since commissioning, photos of the Captain and Executive Officer, and some basic  ship statistics.

Below is a real photo postcard showing the USS Tennessee and California, cruisers of the Pacific Squadron, in Puget Sound.  The card is mailed on April 25, 1908 from Everett, Washington, and received the next day in North Yakima, Washington.  The photographer is Rigby Photos. "Am going to Navy Yard tomorrow on an excursion."

Below is a photo postcard produced by Romans Photo Company showing the Pacific Squadron leaving Puget Sound.  It is postmarked May 29, 1908.

The below card is an advertising card given out during the visit of the Pacific Squadron for Pacific Outfitting Company located on Pike Street in downtown Seattle.  "Dress up for the Fleet"  "Everybody will welcome it dressed in their best.  Our splendid stock of cloaks, suits and millinery for $1.00 a week."  On the front a copyrighted photo by N. L. Stebbins of the USS Washington.

The card below is from a popular series of cards published by Edward Mitchell of San Francisco showing the USS Tennessee.  The car is postmarked from the period of the Second Squadron's visit to Puget Sound, June 5, 1908, Bellingham, Washington, and sent to Everett, Washington. "Hello Old Lady:  How are you.  Received your letter and will answer in a few days.  Everybody is OK up here.  We are very busy all the so Long."

The Pacific Squadron was again augmented on its return to San Francisco.  President Roosevelt decided to bring the Navy's four new cruisers of the First Division back home to become part of First Squadron.  These four ships were known as "The Big Four" and included the Maryland, Colorado, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.  The Squadron departed from Mare Island on August 17th with eight armored cruisers headed to the Pacific.



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