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Kaimiloa and the Crewmen of the Hawaiian Navy

Hawai‘i State Archives

Two dozen Hawaiian youths, inmates from the Reformatory School, were enlisted as apprentice seamen to help crew the Hawaiian Navy’s ship the Kaimiloa. Early concerns arose as to whether the youths were of suitable conduct and ability.

With only one month of training, the youths were put to the test when the Kaimiloa was ordered to transport the Secretary of Foreign Affairs to Samoa. The ship departed Honolulu on May 18, 1887, and arrived in Samoa on June 15th, a voyage of 29 days.

Only a single disciplinary incident of an inmate was recorded in the Kaimiloa's log book:

June 11, 1887. Punished Akaole, an apprentice, with 12 lashes and to be kept on bread (and) water for a week for malicious mischief.

The Hawaiian Consul in Samoa, also impressed with their exemplary conduct, reported in a letter:

August 23, 1887. I must say a word in praise of the Reform School boys. It was a matter of surprise to me to observe how well they behaved on shore and aboard, and how well they performed their duties.


Photo Credit: Hawaiʻi State Archives (Photograph Collection, PP 102-4)

Royal inspection of the Kaimiloa. Upper deck: King Kalākaua and ship's officers. Ship's deck, left to right: Juvenile inmates, seamen and Hawaiian Marines.

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