Yaarrrr: Shipwreck Might Yield Pirate's Booty

Divers may have found storied sunken ship off Tongan coast

By Liam Carnahan,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 9, 2012 2:54 PM CDT

(Newser) – Shiver me timbers! Divers off the coast of Tonga have found what they suspect is an old pirate's ship with a history straight out of Treasure Island, AFP reports. The Port-au-Prince was built by the French, captured by British privateers (read: pirates) in 1805, and then met its end at the hands of Tongan warriors in 1806. Nearly every member of its crew was slaughtered. If that's not enough, it's rumored that the Tongan king ordered the ship to be sunk...though it was laden with gold, silver candlesticks, chalices, crucifixes, and other booty.

Divers have yet to determine that the wreck is indeed the Port-au-Prince. But they say if it is the ship, then it's highly likely the treasure is still on board. That might be all that's there, though—Darren Rice, one of the two divers to visit the site, says there's not much of the ship itself left, after being "pounded by (13- to 16.5-foot) swells for 200 years." If it's not the ship in question, don't fret—it's still a fascinating mystery. As Rice asks, "Only one ship of that era has ever gone missing in Ha'apai, so if it's not the Port-au-Prince, what is it?"

Treasure may have been found on a sunken ship off the coast of Tonga.
Treasure may have been found on a sunken ship off the coast of Tonga.   (shutterstock)
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