Annually, Asiatic Memorial Fleet Day is observed on March 1. In 1942, the Asiatic Fleet ship U.S.S. Houston was sunk by the Japanese, resulting in the loss of many American lives. On the 60th anniversary of the event, former U.S. President George W. Bush designated March 1 as a day dedicated to the Asiatic Fleet as a special tribute to veterans and those who perished during the war. People assemble at a memorial ceremony to honour the veterans and the ship that participated in World War II following Pearl Harbor.
The background of Asiatic Fleet Memorial Day
The purpose of the U.S. Navy’s early 19th-century presence in East Asia and the Pacific Islands was to counter European influence in the East Indies. The primary objective was to protect American citizens in the region and American interests in China-adjacent territories. They provided diplomatic support by maintaining a robust naval presence. As most of these regions were frequently afflicted by natural disasters and civil unrest, it was always crucial for the United States to consolidate their dominance in them. During these times, they could assist American citizens and local civilians.
The United States did not enter World War II until 1941, when the Japanese attacked their fleet at Pearl Harbor. In response to the casualties and threat in South Asia, the United States became actively involved in defending its territories against the Japanese. The Asiatic Fleet was called upon to defend against the Japanese advance. British, Dutch, and Australian navies joined the fleet despite being outnumbered by Japanese warships. Coordinated attacks on Japanese supply lines in Balikpapan and Badung Strait temporarily impeded the Japanese, but they were ultimately defeated.
According to legend, the entire Asiatic Fleet perished with their guns still firing, refusing to surrender until their final breath. The fleet was destroyed, but the tragedy instilled in the U.S. Navy an enduring spirit of valour and selflessness that contributed to its victory in World War II. After World War II, the Seventh Fleet replaced the Asiatic Fleet and assisted the United States and its allies during the conflicts in Vietnam and Korea, thereby promoting regional peace and stability. Former President George W. Bush designated March 1 as a memorial day for the service and sacrifice of the Asiatic Fleet and its veterans as a tribute to the Asiatic Fleet.
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5 essential facts about the Asian Fleet
A small squadron of cruisers and destroyers, the Asiatic Fleet was rarely recognised as a naval fleet.
Despite the fleet’s modest size, one of the four four-star admirals of the U.S. navy was appointed as its commander-in-chief.
Even though there was an American minister for China, the admiral of the Asiatic Fleet had greater power and authority.
Throughout the forty-year existence of the Asiatic Fleet, there were 26 commanders.
The Asiatic Fleet lost 19 ships out of a total of 40, after which the remaining allied ships surrendered and retreated to Australia.
ASIATIC FLEET MEMORIAL DAY DATES