Samoan crisis

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Samoan Crisis
Part of the First Samoan Civil War
Samoan crisis map.jpg
A sketch featuring the locations of the wrecked German and American ships.
Result Both squadrons wrecked
 United States German Empire German Empire
Commanders and leaders
Naval jack of the United States (1877–1890).svg Lewis Kimberly German Empire Frizze
1 sloop-of-war
1 steamer
1 gunboat 200 marines
3 gunboats 150 marines
Casualties and losses
62 killed
1 sloop-of-war sunk
1 steamer sunk
1 gunboat grounded
~73 killed
1 gunboat sunk
2 gunboats grounded
  • The British in the cruiser HMS Calliope participated as mediators, their ship sustained fair damage.
  • Several merchant ships were also wrecked during the cyclone.

The Samoan Crisis was a standoff between the United States, Germany, and Great Britain from 1887–1889 over control of the Samoan Islands during the Samoan Civil War.[1] The incident involved three United States Navy warships (the sloop-of-war USS Vandalia, the screw steamer USS Trenton, and the gunboat USS Nipsic) and three German warships (the gunboats SMS Adler and SMS Eber and the corvette SMS Olga), keeping each other at bay over several months in Apia harbour, which was monitored by the British corvette HMS Calliope.

The standoff ended when a cyclone on 15 and 16 March wrecked all six warships in the harbour. Calliope was able to escape the harbour and survived the storm. Robert Louis Stevenson did not witness the storm and its aftermath at Apia but did, after his arrival in Samoa (December 1889) write about the event.[2] The Samoan Civil War continued, involving Germany, United States and Britain, eventually resulting, via the Tripartite Convention of 1899, in the partition of the Samoan Islands into American Samoa and German Samoa.[3]


See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Andre Trudeau, Noah. "'An Appalling Calamity'--In the teeth of the Great Samoan Typhoon of 1889, a standoff between the German and US navies suddenly didn't matter." Naval History Magazine 25.2 (2011): 54-59.
  • Conroy, Robert (2002). "Only luck kept the United States from being occupied by Kaiser Wilhelm II's army between 1899 and 1904". Military History. 18 (August).
  • Gray, J.A.C. (1960). Amerika Samoa: A History of American Samoa and Its United States Naval Administration. Annapolis: U. S. Naval Institute. ISBN 0-405-13038-4.
  • "Hurricane at Apia, Samoa, 15–16 March 1889". Events of the 1880s. Naval Historical Center. 2002. Retrieved 1 February 2010.
  • Kimberly, L.A. "Samoan Hurricane". Events of the 1880s. Naval Historical Center. Retrieved 1 February 2010.
  • LaFeber, Walter (1963). The New Empire: An Interpretation of American Expansion, 1860–1898. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.
  • Lind, L.J. "The Epic of HMS Calliope". Naval Historical Society of Australia. Retrieved 1 February 2010.
  • Rousmaniere, John (2002). After the Storm: True Stories of Disaster and Recovery at Sea. Camden, MN: International Marine/McGraw-Hill. pp. 87–106. ISBN 0-07-137795-6.
  • Sisung, Kelle S. (2002). "The Benjamin Harrison Administration". Presidential Administration Profiles for Students. Detroit: Gale Group.
  • Stevenson, Robert Louis (1892). A Footnote to History, Eight Years of Trouble in Samoa. Retrieved 1 February 2010.
  • Tucker, Spencer, ed. (2009). The Encyclopedia of the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars: A Political, Social, and Military History. ABC-CLIO. pp. 569–70.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  • Wilson, Graham (May–July 1996). "Glory for the Squadron: HMS Calliope in the Great Hurricane at Samoa 1889". Journal of the Australian Naval Institute. 22 (2): 51–54.


  1. ^ Spencer Tucker, ed. (2009). The Encyclopedia of the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars: A Political, Social, and Military History. ABC-CLIO. pp. 569–70.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Stevenson, Robert Louis (1892). A Footnote to History: Eight Years of Trouble in Samoa. BiblioBazaar. ISBN 1-4264-0754-8.
  3. ^ Ryden, George Herbert. The Foreign Policy of the United States in Relation to Samoa. New York: Octagon Books, 1975. (Reprint by special arrangement with Yale University Press. Originally published at New Haven: Yale University Press, 1928), p. 574; the Tripartite Convention (United States, Germany, Great Britain) was signed at Washington on 2 December 1899 with ratifications exchanged on 16 February 1900

Coordinates: 13°50′00″S 171°50′00″W / 13.8333°S 171.8333°W / -13.8333; -171.8333