Samoan crisis

Second Samoan Civil War Samoan Civil War German Empire
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

Further reading


  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