The Great Storm at Samoa – Death of Calliopes Commander

The Hobart Mercury on Friday 2 February 1917 ran the following piece, as an obituary for Admiral Sir Henry Kane, the Captain of HMS Calliope of the Hurricane at Apia, Samoa fame mentioned elsewhere here in Thomo’s Hole.

LONDON, February 1

The death took place to-day of Admiral Sir Henry Kane, the hero of the great storm at Samoa, in 1880. Admiral Kane was, born in 1843, his father being Sir Robert Kane, F.R.S. He chose the Navy as a career, and in 1863 was promoted to a sub-lieutenancy. After being naval attaché to the Maritime Courts from 1883 to 1887 he was appointed to command the cruiser Calliope, and in 1889, an international dispute having arisen as to the rights of Britain, the United States, and Germany in Samoa, she was sent out to the Pacific to represent British interests. The Calliope with three German and three American warships, and a number of merchantmen, was lying at anchor at Apia on March 16, when a terrific hurricane swept the island One by one the ships began to drag their anchors and go ashore. The American ship Trenton was dismasted and thrown on her side on the beach, while of the German cruisers only the Elbe was afterwards found to be sound enough to make salvage operations worth while. Seeing that delay would inevitably result in the loss of his ship, Admiral Kane-then captain-decided on the bold course of trying to steam out through the narrow, rock-bound entrance in the teeth of the hurricane. For some time it seemed that the Calliope’s engines were not strong enough to take her out against the gale, but she gradually gathered way, and, to the accompaniment of cheering from the crews of the Trenton and other American vessels, steamed out to the open ocean and safety. All the other vessels were driven on the rocky shore, and many sailors were drowned in, the surf in spite of the particularly gallant efforts of the natives to effect rescues. Admiral Kane was appointed a Director of Naval Ordnance in 1894, and this post he held until his retirement in 1897. His services at Samoa brought him promotion to the rank of admiral and a knighthood.

The other pieces in the Hole here are:

Still such stirring stuff.

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