On April 7, 2017, Guam commemorated the 100th anniversary of the scuttling of the German vessel SMS Cormoran II, the same day the United States entered World War I and fired its first shot. The story of how the SMS Cormoran II came to lie on the floor of Guam’s Apra Harbor and earn its place in both Guam and the United States’ history is fascinating. The incredible story of the SMS Cormoran II and the solemnly beautiful underwater tribute to the ship can now be experienced on YouTube.
The SMS Cormoran arrived in Guam in December 1914, out of coal and desperate after being chased throughout the Pacific by Japanese Imperial Navy warships. The US Naval governor refused to refuel the Cormoran and she remained in Guam for the next two and a half years. The Cormoran ultimately had a friendly relationship with Guam and Navy personnel, a relationship that became strained on December 6, 1917, when the US entered WWI.
The captivating story of the SMS Cormoran is featured on the YouTube channel The Great War, hosted by Indy Neidell. Titled “Guam and the Cormoran,”
the video documentary shares all the interesting details of the Cormoran’s history, which began as a ship named the SS Ryazan, and ends as part of one of the world’s most unique dive sites.
The occasion of the 100th anniversary of the scuttling of the Cormoran was recognized with two special ceremonies, one at the US Naval Cemetery in Hagåtña, at the graves of six of the seven German sailors who perished that day. The second was at sea, both above and below the waves where the SMS Cormoran II lay.
The morning of April 7, 2017 was greeted by clear skies and beautiful weather. Boats bearing those coming to pay their respects, including dignitaries from Guam, the US Navy, and Germany, arrived at the site above the SMS Cormoran II. The ceremony began at 8:03 a.m., the exact time explosions shook the Cormoran a hundred years before, and she began to sink. At 8:30 a.m., divers entered the water to begin a second ceremony. The underwater presentation on board the Cormoran was captured on video and can be watched at YouTube. The memorial piece was produced by the Guam Visitors Bureau and is called “SMS Cormoran II 100th Anniversary.”
The SMS Cormoran II and her crew came to Guam as strangers and became part of the community and history. Learn more about the history of the Cormoran and Guam by watching these great videos now available on YouTube. For more information about the commemoration of the SMS Cormoran II, please visit visitguam.com/smscormoranguam . To learn more about visiting our beautiful island and all the exciting things to experience in Guam, please visit us at visitguam.org