Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Naval Review in Hampton Roads, 1957

The museum is remembering many events in June, like the Battle of Midway in 1942, and our own relocation to Nauticus in 1994. Not to be forgotten are the exciting weeks of June 1957 when an International Naval Review entertained the residents of Hampton Roads.
The program for the Naval Review, from HRNM's collection. Participating countries
included France, Canada, Columbia, Cuba, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, France,
Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom,
Uruguay, and Venezuela.     
Like the 1907 naval review, the 1957 review was tied to the anniversary of the 1607 Jamestown Colony. The State Department invited members of NATO and other countries thought to have an interest in celebrating the colonization of North America. The result, gushed the Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch, was “one of the mightiest peacetime armadas in history.” Thirty warships representing 17 countries joined 80-some U.S. naval vessels for review by Secretary of Defense Charles Wilson on June 12, 1957.

A searchlight display, open houses at naval installations, television specials, and ship visits comprised some of the festivities. Concerning the opportunity to visit foreign naval ships, the Virginian-Pilot newspaper quoted the advice of two local civilian women: “Don’t say ‘yes’ to anything.  You don’t know what they’re asking.”

Blimps ride herd over the International fleet on June 12. Admiral Claude V. Ricketts,
USN commander of Destroyer Flotilla Four, was the “traffic director” for the ships. 
He did his job from one of these aircraft.

Spectators viewed the parade of ships from the south end of a new bridge off of Willoughby Spit – part of the new Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, which would open in November of 1957. These thousands of spectators probably did not imagine that sitting immobile on that bridge would become a regular feature of transportation in Hampton Roads for decades to come.

(This blog post was written by HRNM Curator Joe Judge.)

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