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First Name: Frank

Last Name: Arms

Birthplace: Norwich, CT, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Hiram

Date of Birth: 01 June 1835

Date of Death: 16 March 1889

Rank or Rate:

Years Served:
Frank Hiram Arms


Frank Hiram Arms

Pay Master, U.S. Navy

Frank Hiram Arms was born in Norwich, CT, on 1 June 1835. Frank married Grace Turner and had 3 children.

Arms served on the second USS Vandalia which was a screw sloop in the U.S. Navy. She was laid down at the Massachusetts Boston Navy Yard in 1872 and was commissioned there on 10 January 1876. She was wrecked in a cyclone, 16 March 1889.

While Vandalia lay at Mare Island, relations between American and German officials at Apia, Samoa, became increasingly strained. Late in the winter of 1889, at the behest of the American consul in Samoa, Vandalia, Trenton, and Nipsic sailed for Samoa and reached Apia Harbor early in March to balance the presence of the German vessels Adler, Olga, and Eber. The British were ably represented by HMS Calliope. On 15 and 16 March 1889, each of these vessels suddenly became trapped in the harbor when violent, hurricane-force winds roared out of the northeast, driving mountainous waves before them in the 1889 Apia cyclone. Adler, Olga, and Eber were all either sunk or hopelessly grounded and torn apart on the sharp reef, and together lost a total of 150 officers and crew killed. The powerful engines of Calliope barely enabled the vessel to get to sea in a dramatic performance that drew cheers from the crews of the American vessels. However, despite heroic efforts by the officers and crews of Vandalia and Trenton, the two vessels tore their bottoms out upon the reef on 16 March. Vandalia struck at about noon and sank until her decks were completely awash, forcing her crew to scramble into the rigging. Trenton grounded alongside Vandalia at 2200 that evening, but enough of her main deck remained above water to allow Vandalia's crew to climb on board. After the hurricane began, Nipsic was driven ashore on a sandy beach and was later salvaged.

American casualties totaled 52 killed, 43 from Vandalia alone. The survivors from Vandalia, Trenton, and Nipsic soon sailed for Mare Island on board a chartered steamer, but Vandalia and Trenton themselves were so battered that they were soon dismantled and their scrap donated to the Samoans.

Death and Burial

He passed away on 16 March 1889 in Apia, Samoa, in the wreck of the USS Vandalia. He is buried in the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery, Annapolis, MD.

Honoree ID: 3389   Created by: MHOH




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