The return of the Atlantic Fleet from its world cruise was an event of great interest to the nation and to the navy. This long voyage was successful in every respect, and it is worthy of note that while the fleet was entering the Suez Canal word was received of the earthquake in Sicily, thereby giving this country the opportunity to show its friendship for Italy and its interest in the cause of humanity by giving swift aid to the sufferers. The Connecticut, Illinois and Culgoa were dispatched to Messina at once. The crew of the Illinois recovered the bodies of the American consul and his wife, who had been entombed in the ruins. The Scorpion, our station ship at Constantinople, and the Celtic, a refrigerator ship fitted out in New York, were hurried to Messina, relieving the Illinois and the Connecticut, which continued on the cruise. The fleet reached Hampton Roads February 22, where President Roosevelt reviewed it as it passed into the roadstead on schedule time. From Hampton Roads to San Francisco the fleet was under Rear-Admiral R.D. Evans, and from San Francisco back to Hampton Roads was commanded by Rear-Admiral C.S. Sperry, the success of the cruise testifying to the able efforts of these officers.
The benefits of this cruise around the world to both the officers and enlisted men are in the increase in efficiency and economy in steaming, the lessons that have been learned in keeping the vessels self-sustaining, the training in holding vessels accurately in formation and in battle exercises, and the great improvement in target practice. The cruise also developed the desirability of certain alterations, especially the removal of unnecessary and unused top hamper and the substitution of the skeleton fire-control towers for military masts. These alterations were made immediately.
The Pacific Fleet, consisting of 8 armored cruisers, cruised from San Francisco to Talcahuano, Chile, and back, stopping for target practice at Magdalena Bay. This target practice was interfered with somewhat by the necessity for sending vessels to Central American waters, owing to the disturbed political conditions.