|Part of Samoan Civil War|
The sketch features the locations of the wrecked German and American ships.
|United States||German Empire|
|Commanders and leaders|
1 gunboat 200 marines
|3 gunboats 150 marines|
|Casualties and losses|
1 sloop-of-war sunk
1 steamer sunk
1 gunboat grounded
1 gunboat sunk
2 gunboats grounded
In 1878, the United States acquired a fuelling station at the harbor at Pago Pago, on the island of Tutuila, in exchange for providing guarantees of protection to Samoa. The German Empire on the other hand desired concessions at the harbor at Apia, on the island of Upolu.
The incident involved three US 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), which kept each other at bay over several months in Apia Harbour, which was monitored by the British corvette HMS Calliope.
The standoff ended when the 1889 Apia cyclone, on 15 and 16 March, wrecked all six warships in the harbour. Calliope escaped the harbour and thus survived the storm. Robert Louis Stevenson did not witness the storm and its aftermath at Apia but after December 1889 arrival to Samoa, he wrote about the event. The Second Samoan Civil War, involving Germany, the United States, and Britain, eventually resulted in the Tripartite Convention of 1899, which partitioned the Samoan Islands into American Samoa and German Samoa.
Wrecked vessels at Apia Harbour, Upolu, Samoa, during salvage efforts soon after the storm. The view looks about northward, with USS Trenton and the sunken USS Vandalia to the left and the beached German corvette Olga at right. The wreckage just off Trenton's stern may be from the German gunboat Eber, which was destroyed when she struck the harbor reef during the hurricane.
Illustrated London News for 27 April 1889; artist's conception of HMS Calliope being cheered on by the crew of USS Trenton as Calliope escapes from Apia Harbour. Calliope actually passed to the port of Trenton.
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