The first violent hostile act of the war between the United States and Germany probably was the destruction of the S.M.S. Cormoran by her own commander in Apra Harbor, Guam. To those actively participating, the epsiode loomed large in interest, and in tragedy, owing chiefly to the unique situation which, over a long period of time, had permitted the friendly intercourse between the personnel of the ship and the colony ashore. In a large community, this friendly interest between the ship’s company of an interned vessel and the authorities of the neutral nation could not have been feasible; but in Guam, no one could get away, and the addition of cultured foreign officers was a distinct boon to the small group that formed the local society. A number of the German officers and several of the chief petty officers lived ashore. Moreover the enlisted men were granted regular liberty, more or less restricted to certain localities.
Destruction of S.M.S. "Cormoran"
By Commander Owen Bartlett, U. S. Navy (Retired)