The U.S. Navy and Guano

The U.S. Navy defended our citizens’ claims to remote guano islands in the Pacific and Caribbean.

USS St. Mary’s, 1919
Courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command, Photo Archives

After the Guano Islands Act was passed, the United States had to defend its citizens’ interests. That task fell to the Pacific Squadron of the U.S. Navy, which enforced citizens’ claims and safeguarded their presence on remote guano islands.
In August 1857, the twenty-two-gun warship  USS St. Mary’s, under Commander Charles Davis, visited New Nantucket and Jarvis islands in the remote Pacific Ocean. The ship collected guano samples that were sent back to the Smithsonian for analysis.