Journal Article

Uninvited and Unwelcome: The SS Appam and the US Law of Neutrality

Andrew J Norris

in European Journal of International Law

Volume 29, issue 2, pages 477-502
Published in print July 2018 | ISSN: 0938-5428
Published online July 2018 | e-ISSN: 1464-3596 | DOI:
Uninvited and Unwelcome: The SS Appam and the US Law of Neutrality

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On 15 January 1916, the British steamer Appam was captured near the Madeiras by the German raider Moëwe. British mystification regarding her disappearance was more than matched by American officials’ consternation when the vessel, flying German naval colours, unexpectedly appeared at the entrance to Hampton Roads, Virginia, on 1 February 1916. These officials were further discomfited to discover she was under the command of a German prize crew whose commander, LT Hans Berg, was demanding that the USA permit Appam, under German control, to remain indefinitely in a US port. This demand was the first salvo in a bitter diplomatic row between the USA, Britain and Germany regarding the rights and obligations of a neutral respecting a prize brought by a belligerent into its territory. The nature of this dispute was irrevocably altered when the vessel’s British representatives filed suit in the USA for the return of the vessel and her cargo. This article tells the story of Appam, focusing on the diplomatic and legal sparring that characterized her tenure in US waters. In so doing, it traces the development of the law of maritime neutrality with respect to prizes in the USA during World War I.

Journal Article.  13854 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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