As a flotilla of naval vessels from around the world participates in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) to sustain relationships in the maritime community, a century ago this week international navies converged for a remarkably different occasion—to drink the last of the U.S. Navy’s supply of alcohol. On July 1, 1914 the ships of the U.S. Navy officially became dry under General Order No. 99. “The use or introduction for drinking purposes of alcoholic liquors on board any naval vessel, or within any navy yard or station, is strictly prohibited, and commanding officers will be held directly responsible for the enforcement of this order,” reads the hundred year-old order. Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels issued the order. A teetotaler, former newspaper publisher, and supporter of the temperance movement, the North Carolinian had already become unpopular with many of those in the sea services. When the order was first announced in on April 16, 1914, it was met with derision and mockery in the press, which regarded the policy as an attempt to make the Navy softer.
Editorial cartoons dubbed Daniels “Sir Josephus, Admiral of the USS Grapejuice Pinafore” who oversaw a fleet of Navy ships with names such as “USS Piffle” that were bedecked with flowers, rocking chairs and potted plants. But Daniels’ order was actually just the final phase of a long process that had been slowly reducing the presence of alcohol on Navy ships.