Lighthouses of American Samoa

The Samoan Islands are an archipelago of Polynesia in the South Pacific Ocean. The islands were partitioned in 1900; the large western islands of 'Upolu and Savai'i were assigned to Germany and the smaller eastern islands to the United States. German Samoa, as it was called, was occupied by troops from New Zealand early in World War I, in 1914. Renamed Western Samoa, it remained under New Zealand administration until it became the independent nation of Samoa in 1962.

The eastern islands, American Samoa, continue as a U.S. territory. Tutuila is the major island; there are four other islands and two coral atolls also in the territory. The capital and principal town is Pago Pago on Tutuila; it has a magnificent natural harbor, one of the best in the South Pacific. The total population of the territory is a little less than 60,000.

American Samoa has no traditional lighthouses, but there are a small number of minor lightbeacons maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. Information on these lights is scarce and photos are difficult to find. Special thanks to Elinor DeWire, author of The Field Guide to the Lighthouses of the Pacific Coast, for sharing information and historic Coast Guard photos from her files.

Admiralty numbers are from volume K of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 111. USCG numbers are from Volume VI of the U.S. Coast Guard Light List. ARLHS does not list any lights in American Samoa.

General Sources
NOAA Nautical Chart On-Line Viewer: Pacific
Nautical charts for the coast can be viewed online. Chart 83484 covers American Samoa.
Online List of Lights - American Samoa
Coming soon, photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.
U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Center: Light Lists
The USCG Light List can be downloaded in pdf format.

Pago Pago Range Front Light
Range Front Light (right of the church), Pago Pago, October 2006
Panoramio photo copyright Olivier Caplain; permission requested

Aunu'u Lightbeacon
[Aunu'u Island (2?)]
Date unknown. Inactive since 2014. 7.5 m (25 ft) steel tower. No photo available, and the small tower is not seen in Google's satellite view. Jenkins 1907 light list does not include this light, but a 1922 light list describes a 4 m (13 ft) white square pyramidal tower. Aunu'u is a small volcanic island off the southeastern coast of Tutuila. The light, with a focal plane 83 m (272 ft), guided vessels as they round the eastern end of Tutuila en route to Pago Pago. Located on the steep northeast coast of Aunu'u. Site status unknown. ex-Admiralty K4588; ex-NGA 3084; ex-USCG 6-30175.

Tutuila Lightbeacons
* [Breakers Point (2?)]
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 58 m (190 ft); flash every 6 s, white or red depending on direction. 8 m (27 ft) post carrying a diamond-shaped daymark painted with black and white checkers. The photo at right shows a U.S. Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team checking the light after the earthquake and tsunami that struck the islands in September 2009. The small tower is barely visible in Google's satellite view. Jenkins 1907 light list does not include this light, but a 1922 light list describes a 5 m (16 ft) white square pyramidal tower. The light is close to communication towers and other facilities. Located on the promontory on the east side of the entrance to Pago Pago Harbor. Accessible by road. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty K4576; NGA 3088; USCG 6-30185.
* Pago Pago Range Front (4?)
Date unknown (station established 1901). Active; focal plane 11 m (37 ft); quick-flashing red light, visible only on or close to the range line. 11 m (36 ft) square skeletal tower, painted white. Olivier Caplain's distant view is at the top of this page, and Google has a street view and an indistinct satellite view. The original range lights were described as "iron standards," a 1922 light list describes a 3.5 m (11 ft) white square pyramidal tower, and by 1947 the lights were shown from the wood towers seen below. The rear light is still described as being on a small square tower on the mountainside 194 m (212 yd) northwest. Located at the water's edge on the east end of the Pago Pago waterfront. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty K4580; NGA 3092; USCG 6-30190.
[Pago Pago Range Rear (4?)]
Date unknown (station established 1901). Active; focal plane 55.5 m (182 ft); red light, 3 s on, 3 s off, visible only on or close to the range line. 3 m (10 ft) "square structure." No photo available, and the tower is not clearly identified in Google's satellite view. The "square structure" as of 1947 is seen below. Located on the mountainside 194 m (212 yd) northwest of the front light. Site status unknown. Admiralty K4580.1; NGA 3096; USCG 6-30195.
Breakers Point Light
Breakers Point Light, 2009
U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Elinor DeWire
Pago Pago Front Range Light
Range Front Light, Pago Pago, 1947
U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Elinor DeWire
Pago Pago Rear Range Light
Range Rear Light, Pago Pago, 1947
U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Elinor DeWire

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: Southeast: Cook Islands | Southwest: Tonga | West: Samoa

Return to the Lighthouse Directory index | Ratings key

Posted April 30, 2014. Checked and revised June 1, 2017. Lighthouses: 1. Site copyright 2017 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.