Skip to main content

Kaimiloa: Kalākaua’s Naval Ship, 1887

Hawai‘i State Archives

The Royal Hawaiian Navy was created solely as a result of King Kalākaua's plan for a confederation of Polynesian nations.

The High Commissioner was a special Hawaiian envoy tasked with traveling to the various island nations of the Pacific to enlist them into the confederation.

In anticipation of the High Commissioner’s transportation needs, the Hawaiian government purchased a three-masted steamship named the Explorer. The ship was refitted as a gunboat and armed with Gatling guns and cannons. The name Explorer was translated into Hawaiian and the ship was renamed the Kaimiloa.

His Hawaiian Majesty’s Ship Kaimiloa was commissioned on March 28, 1887, for the naval service of the Kingdom and comprised the whole of the Hawaiian Navy fleet.



photo courtesy of: Hawaiʻi State Archives

King David Kalākaua on board his naval ship, the Kaimiloa.

Hawaiian-samoan meeting aboard kaimiloa 1887

photo courtesy of: Hawaiʻi State Archives

A ceremony was held aboard Kaimiloa to mark the alliance between the Kingdoms of Samoa and Hawaiʻi. L-R: Samoan delegates Ainuu Aisake, Ainuu Tatopau, and Moli, Samoan King Malietoa Laupepa, Hawaiian envoy John Edward Bush, and Henry F. Poor.

King malietoa laupepa aboard kaimiloa, 1887

photo courtesy of: Hawaiʻi State Archives

King Malietoa of Samoa on board the Kaimiloa. June 1887.

Related articles