Tsunami narratives seldom mention the results of a sizeable vessel's encounter with one of the seismic sea waves. Among the U.S. warships that have endured such experiences, the story of the USS Wateree stands alone, for she is the only one to have served as useful a life ashore as she did afloat.
A two-masted side-wheeler, the iron-hulled gunboat was at anchor in the port of Arica in present-day Chile on 13 August 1868. About 1705, she began to vibrate violently. Rushing on deck, her crew saw a great cloud of dust overlaying the town and the ground literally rippling in waves. Arica was being laid waste by an earthquake, which was later estimated to have been 8.5 magnitude on the Richter scale.