Great White Fleet 1908

Great White Fleet of 1907-09 and the U.S. Coast Guard Today

In 1907 the United States Coast Guard (Revenue Marine before 1915) adopted the same paint standard as the "Great White Fleet" of the U.S. Navy.  However, almost the same white and spar paint scheme is still in use by the modern U.S. Coast Guard, as can be seen in these examples:

Great White Fleet 1908: USCGC Escape (WMEC-6) Commissioned 1980; Decommissioned 1995

USCGC Escape Commissioned 1980; Decommissioned 1995

Summary of U.S. Coast Guard Paint Scheme:

Superstructure and Hull Above Waterline


(FS 17875)

Masts and Items on Deck, Etc.


(FS 10371)



(FS 36231)


Blue Gray

(FS 16099)



(FS 12199)



(FS 15182)

Boot Topping


(FS 17038)

Hull Below Waterline




At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in 1898 the U.S. Navy painted all of its ships gray and did not return to the white and spar colors until after the conclusion of hostilities.  The U.S. Coast Guard has also painted its ships gray during World War I, World War II and other times of hostilities.


*     *     *     *     *

Excerpts on the use of Spar color in





On vessels whose main decks are all wood or nearly all wood the tops of cabins, pilot houses and engine trunks will be painted Spar (10371) except for aerial identification markings. Other vessels will have these areas painted Blue Gray(16099). STACKS

Stacks will be painted Spar (10371) with a broad black band around the top of the stack unless otherwise authorized by the Commandant. The width of the band will equal 1/2 the fore and aft diameter of the stack or 15 the height of the stack (whichever dimension is the smaller). If the stack has a hood, the hood will also be painted black in addition to the above band and will form an extension of the band. 378' WHEC'S shall follow the Vessel's Painting Schedule and continue with the present color scheme in use (white stack with broad black band). MAST AND SPARS

Masts (including ladders, crows nests, platforms, etc.), booms, cranes, davits, flagstaffs, jackstaffs, yardarms and their supports and foundations (other than rigging) will be painted Spar (10371) if metal or will be varnished if wood. Equipment secured to the masts such as radar antenna, pedestals, searchlights, bull horns, etc. shall also be Spar (10371). 378' WHEC'S shall follow Vessel Painting Schedule.

Mast areas which are directly in the way of stack gases may be black. Areas on masts painted black when the vessel is commissioned will be kept painted black in service. Any extension of these areas beyond that originally authorized or the painting of additional areas black without specific authorization from the Commandant is prohibited. DECK MACHINERY

Deck winches, capstan, winch and capstan controllers, sounding machines, and other deck machinery will be Spar (10371). Do not paint the surfaces of winches and capstan drums that contact the line. If such surfaces are steel they may be coated with a light preservative. BOAT DAVITS AND BOAT STOWAGE

Boat davits, boat chocks, blocks, gallow frames and other boat stowage appurtenances shall be Spar (10371). MISCELLANEOUS DETAILS AND FITTINGS

In general, miscellaneous objects whose color is not specifically prescribed elsewhere in these instructions, will be painted white if attached or immediately adjacent to some part of the superstructure that is painted white. They will be painted Spar (10371) if attached or immediately adjacent to masts, spars, or other objects whose prescribed color is Spar (10371). Objects standing alone on the deck shall also be Spar (10371).

Stumbling hazards such as deck padeyes, deck clips, and other projections shall be painted white for better night visibility.

Refer to the accompanying list of miscellaneous objects most frequently encountered. While not all these follow the general rules above, most do, and the general rules shall be applied to objects not listed.

On newer vessels, first refer to Vessel Painting Schedule then if not listed follow the Miscellaneous Painting Instructions listed in this Section. SUPERSTRUCTURE

Cabins, pilot houses, engine trunks extending appreciably above the sheer line, hatches and other superstructure will be painted white on the vertical surfaces. The horizontal surfaces will be Spar (10371). Utility boats will be Spar (10371). Where there is no distinct demarcation between vertical and horizontal surfaces, such as in the canopies of gigs and the cabins of the 36 foot motor lifeboat, the white color shall be used over the entire canopy or cabin. MAST AND SPARS

Masts, booms, cranes, davits, flagstaffs, jackstaffs, yardarms and their supports and foundation will be painted Spar (10371) if metal or will be varnished if wood. INSIDE OF OPEN HULLS, COCKPITS AND CARGO SPACES

The inside of open hulls and the cockpits and cargo spaces of decked hulls will be white down to the side seats or risers, or down to the cockpit deck, grating, or floor boards if there are no side seats or risers. UTMs and UTBs will have Blue Gray (16099) cockpit decks unless these decks are of color impregnated material. Spar (10371) will be applied below the white including seats, thwarts, inside of hull, cockpit decks, gratings, floor boards or open bilges. Engine trunks not extending appreciably above the sheer line will be Spar (10371) overall. This color scheme will apply to all boats except as noted below.

LCMs, Barges, and Buoy Boats will have the entire interior of their cargo spaces black. Work barge storerooms though will have a white overhead and white bulkheads.

LARCs and Motor Cargo Boats will have the interior of their cockpit and cargo space painted Spar (10371) MISCELLANEOUS DETAILS AND FITTINGS

In general, miscellaneous metal fittings and equipment will be painted white if attached or immediately adjacent to some part of the superstructure that is painted white or will otherwise be painted Spar (10371). Wood fittings will normally be varnished.


Great White Fleet 1908: USCGC Yocona (WAT-168; WMEC-168) Commissioned 1946; Decommissioned 1996

USCGC Yocona Commissioned 1946; Decommissioned 1996

San Francisco bay Area Post Card Club Postcard    Great White Fleet 1908

"San Francisco Celebrates"
Postcard Image Gallery:

1. Great White Fleet

2. Portola Festival

3. California Adm. Day

4. Pan. - Pac. Int. Expo.

5. Golden Gate Int. Expo.


Last updated: 09/16/2007 02:34:08 AM -0400
Jack Daley, Webmaster