Thursday, June 9, 2011

Apia Hurricane Centenary (1889 - 1989)

Date of Issue: March 16, 1989
Scott #: 755 a-d

Samoa issued a strip of four stamps to commemorate 100 years of cyclone, which swept across Apia, Samoa on March 15, 1989 during the Samoan crisis. The effect on shipping in the harbor was devastating, largely because of what has been described as 'an error of judgement that will forever remain a paradox in human psychology'.

Apia is an exposed harbor, unprotected by high ground or an enclosing reef. The northern part of the harbor is open to the Pacific, and thus wind and waves can sweep through the area and drive any shipping which remained in the bay onto the reefs at the Southern end, or toss them right up the beach. However, even though the officers of the various navies were well aware of the necessary procedures in the face of such a threat, none made a move. This has been attributed to jingoism or national pride; none of the men in the harbor were willing to admit in front of the other nations' navies, that they were afraid of the elements, and so refused to take precautions, and refused to allow the merchant ships which accompanied them to move either, leaving thirteen ships, some larger vessels, at anchor close to one another in Apia harbor.

SMS Eber - German gunboat. The Eber was anchored in Apia Harbor, Samoa, during the 1889 Apia cyclone of 15-16 March 1889. Though she was the most modern of the seven warships present, damage to her propeller made it impossible for her to survive the violent wind and seas. After a long struggle, Eber was forced against the edge of the harbor reef and sank quickly, with the loss of 73 of her crewmen.

SMS Olga - German - beached & repaired

HMS Calliope -  British - a Calypso-class corvette of the Royal Navy which served from 1887 until 1951. She was the only ship that survived the tropical cyclone that struck Samoa in 1889.

USS Vandalia - was a screw sloop in the United States Navy.  The ship wrecked during the cyclone and 43 of the crew were dead.

Source: Wikipedia

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