Haitian gunboat Crête-à-Pierrot

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Haitian ship Crête-à-Pierrot.jpg
Name: Crête-à-Pierrot
Builder: Earle's Shipbuilding & Engineering Co, Hull (Yard 396)
Launched: 7 November 1895
Commissioned: 1896
Out of service: 1902
Fate: Destroyed to prevent capture
General characteristics
Type: Gunboat
Displacement: 950 tons
Installed power: Triple expansion steam engines
Propulsion: 1 × propeller
Speed: 16 knots (30 km/h)
Complement: 175

Crête-à-Pierrot was a gunboat in the Haitian Navy. It was destroyed by Admiral Hammerton Killick in 1902 to prevent it falling into the hands of a German warship.


The ship displaced 950 tons. It was powered by a triple expansion steam engine driving a single screw propeller, giving a speed of 16 knots (30 km/h). Armament comprised a 16 cm, 12 cm and four 10 cm guns, four Nordenfelt machine guns and two Maxim machine guns.[1][2]


The Haitian Government commissioned an armed cruiser to be designed by Sir E J Reed and built by Earle's Shipbuilding & Engineering Co at Hull, Yorkshire, England.[1][2][3] The ship was launched as Crête-à-Pierrot, named for the revolutionary battle of Crête-à-Pierrot, on 7 November 1895.[2] After arming in France, it was added to the Haitian Navy in 1896 and considered the Navy's crown jewel, the best of the four ships it possessed at the time.[3]

Crête-à-Pierrot's first commander was Captain Gilmour, from Scotland, who served under contract to Haiti.[3]


In 1943 the ship appeared on a postage stamp commemorating its 1902 destruction

In 1902 Haiti was enveloped in a civil war over who would become president after the sudden resignation of Tirésias Simon Sam. Crête-à-Pierrot was controlled by Admiral Hammerton Killick and supporters of Anténor Firmin and was used to blockade ports where Pierre Nord Alexis was gathering troops.[4] There was a plan to use Crête-à-Pierrot to transport Firmin to Port-au-Prince while Jean Jumeau marched on Port-au-Prince by land.[5]

In September 1902, Crête-à-Pierrot seized a German ammunition ship, Markomannia en route to provide ammunition to Alexis' forces.[5] Alexis asked Germany for help subduing a pirate ship.[4] In response, Germany sent the gunboat SMS Panther to find and capture Crête-à-Pierrot.[5]

On 6 September, Crête-à-Pierrot was in port at Gonaïves, with Killick and most of the crew on Shore leave when Panther appeared.[6] Killick rushed aboard and ordered his crew to abandon ship.[6] When all but four crew members had evacuated the ship[5] Killick, inspired by the tale of Captain LaPorte, wrapped himself in a Haitian flag, fired the aft magazine, and blew up the ship rather than let the Germans take her.[6][7] Killick and the remaining four crew members went down with the ship.[6]

An hour later, Panther fired thirty shots at Crête-à-Pierrot to finish it off, then sailed away.[7] The ship's rifles and machine guns were salvaged, along with the bodies of the crew that remained on board.[7]



  1. ^ a b "The Sinking of a Haitian Gunboat". The Times (36868). London. 9 September 1902. col A, p. 3.
  2. ^ a b c Neal, William George, ed. (1 December 1895). "Armed Cruiser for the Haytian Government". The Marine Engineer. XXII: 355. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Hesketh-Prichard, Hesketh Vernon (October 15, 2012). Where Black Rules White: A Journey Through and About Hayti. Wermod and Wermod Publishing Group. pp. 77–84. ISBN 9780956183583.
  4. ^ a b Dubois, Laurent (January 3, 2012). Haiti: The Aftershocks of History. Macmillan. ISBN 9780805095623.
  5. ^ a b c d Smith, Matthew (October 20, 2014). Liberty, Fraternity, Exile: Haiti and Jamaica after Emancipation. UNC Press Books. ISBN 9781469617985.
  6. ^ a b c d Haiti: A Slave Revolution: 200 years after 1804. International Action Center. September 2004. ISBN 978-0974752105. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  7. ^ a b c "Killick Went Down with His Warship" (pdf). The New York Times. September 11, 1902. Retrieved 3 February 2015.