In 1888, Chancellor Otto von Bismarck decided to establish a naval base in the Pacific, and sent warships to occupy the Samoan Islands, without regards to American interests there. Before long, the property of American citizens was being destroyed by German naval fire, and sailors went to far to go ashore and tear apart an American flag. President Grover Cleavland repsonded by sending American warships to protect his countrymen. A great naval battle was about to commence, when a hurricane blew in, scattering ships and sinking others. Both American and German sailors found themselves being rescued from the sea by their enemies. After the storm, the German ships returned home, and Samoa became an American protectorate. Were it not for the hurricane, war would almost certainly have broken out between Germany and the US.