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Samoan crisis

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Title: Samoan crisis  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: United States involvement in regime change, Samoa–United States relations, Imperial German Navy, Shipwrecks of Samoa, Wars involving Samoa
Collection: 1887 in Samoa, 1888 in Samoa, 1889 in Samoa, 19Th-Century Military History of the United Kingdom, Conflicts Involving the German Empire, German Colonisation in Oceania, Germany–samoa Relations, Germany–united Kingdom Relations, Germany–united States Relations, History of Samoa, History of the Foreign Relations of Germany, History of the United States Navy, Maritime Incidents in 1889, Military Expeditions of the United States, Military Operations Involving Germany, Military Operations Involving the United States, Naval History of Germany, Political History of the United States, Samoa–united Kingdom Relations, Samoa–united States Relations, Shipwrecks of Samoa, United States Navy in the 19Th Century, Wars Involving Samoa
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Samoan crisis

Samoan Crisis
Part of the First Samoan Civil War

A sketch featuring the locations of the wrecked German and American ships.
Date 1887–1889
Location Apia Harbor, Samoa, Pacific Ocean
Result Both squadrons wrecked
 United States German Empire
Commanders and leaders
Lewis Kimberly Frizze
1 sloop-of-war
1 steamer
1 gunboat
3 gunboats
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 confrontation standoff between the United States, Imperial Germany and Great Britain from 1887–1889 over control of the Samoan Islands during the Samoan Civil War. The incident involved three American warships, USS Vandalia, USS Trenton and USS Nipsic and three German warships, SMS Adler, SMS Olga, and SMS Eber, keeping each other at bay over several months in Apia harbour, which was monitored by the British warship HMS Calliope.

The standoff ended on 15 and 16 March when a cyclone wrecked all six warships in the harbour. Calliope was able to escape the harbour and survived the storm. Robert Louis Stevenson witnessed the storm and its aftermath at Apia and later wrote about what he saw.[1] 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.[2]



  • 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.  
  • "Hurricane at Apia, Samoa, 15–16 March 1889". Events of the 1880s. Naval Historical Center. 2002. 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.  
  • Sisung, Kelle S. (2002). "The Benjamin Harrison Administration". Presidential Administration Profiles for Students (Detroit: Gale Group). 
  • 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. ^ Stevenson, Robert Louis (1892).  
  2. ^ 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
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