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Reproduced courtesy of John Wright


Date: 1994
Overall: 290 x 910 x 220 mm, 6 kg
Medium: Timber, copper alloy
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from John Wright
Object Copyright: © John Wright
Object Name: Ship model
Object No: 00019509
Place Manufactured:Telopea

User Terms

    This model at a scale of 1:48 depicts the three-masted Royal Navy 24-gun frigate HMS PANDORA. This plank-on-frame model by John Wright has been left partially unplanked on the deck to allow the ship's internal structure to be viewed. PANDORA became famous after it was used to search for and capture mutineers from HMS BOUNTY in 1790.
    SignificanceThis model represents the Royal Navy's determination to bring to justice those involved in the infamous mutiny of HMS BOUNTY.
    HistoryHMS PANDORA was designed by Sir John Williams and built in Deptford, London by Messrs Adams, Barnard and Dudman in 1778-1779. PANDORA was active in North America during the American Revolutionary War, acting as a convoy escort. However it is probably best known for its role in the story of the BOUNTY mutiny.

    On 24 May 1789, while under the command of Captain William Bligh, HMAT BOUNTY was taken over by 25 mutinous crew members, led by Fletcher Christian. Bligh was placed with 18 of his supporters in one of the ship's boat and cast adrift in the South Seas near Tonga. The mutineers then sailed the BOUNTY to Tahiti where they collected supplies and a number of women and boys. In an effort to hide from the Royal Navy, the mutineers first attempted to settle in Tubuai, one of the Austral Islands; but did not succeed due to the enmity of the local islanders who vigorously opposed them at every opportunity. This first unsuccessful attempt at settlement was followed by a second on Pitcairn Island by a smaller group under Fletcher Christian. Some descendants of the BOUNTY mutineers still live on Pitcairn Island today (2010).

    Once news of the BOUNTY mutiny reached England in March 1790 the Admiralty dispatched the Royal Navy's 24-gun frigate HMS PANDORA to search for the mutineers. Under the command of Captain Edward Edwards the PANDORA, impressively armed with 20 six-pounder carriage guns and four 18-pounder carronades left to search, locate and apprehend the 25 mutineers.

    Leaving England on 7 November 1790 PANDORA arrived at Tahiti on 23 March 1791 where it arrested 14 surviving mutineers who had left Fletcher Christian’s party after a failed attempt at settlement on Tubuai; they had decided to return to Tahiti. These men were James Morrison, William Muspratt, Charles Norman, Richard Skinner, George Stewart, John Sumner, Henry Hillbrant, Thomas Burkitt, Michael Byrne, Joseph Coleman, Thomas Ellison, Peter Heywood, John Millward and Thomas McIntosh. The PANDORA continued sailing west in search of the remaining mutineers and the missing BOUNTY; which by this time had actually been broken up by the mutineers off Pitcairn Island to conceal their whereabouts.

    After locating 14 of the mutineers on Tahiti Captain Edwards carried on with his search according to the orders he had received from the Admiralty. During its home-bound passage the ship ran aground as it attempted to enter the Great Barrier Reef near Cape York in August 1791. PANDORA's rudder and part of its sternpost were torn away and it quickly began to take on water. The vessel sank in approximately twelve hours after striking the reef and the wreck resulted in the deaths of 35 men, including four of the mutineers who drowned with their hand shackles still on. Ten surviving mutineers were returned to England where they were tried for their role in the BOUNTY mutiny. Seven were acquitted or pardoned but three were hanged in 1792 on the deck of HMS BRUNSWICK moored off Spithead.

    The PANDORA wreck lay undetected off the coast of Cape York for nearly 200 years until finally discovered in 1977. Protected by the Historic Shipwrecks Act of 1976 this site is one of the most important and well preserved archaeological wrecks in the southern hemisphere. The site's conservation and excavation is the responsibility of the Queensland Museum (QM).

    Interpreting images obtained by remote-sensing equipment and comparing portions of the ship's timbers that have been uncovered by excavation, it is estimated that betweeen one quarter and approximately one-third of the ship's hull still lies more or less intact intact, buried in the sea bed waiting further archaeological investigation. Nine seasons of marine archaeological excavation have been carried out by a team assembled by the QM during the 1980s and 1990s.

    Artefacts recovered from the PANDORA continue to provide an insight into maritime life on board a 'ship of discovery' during the late 18th century. Human remains of some of the victims of the wreck - 3 individuals- have been recovered and many personal objects belonging to the officers and crew. Some of these objects have been linked to possessions belonging to specific individuals -notably to the surgeon and possibly to one of the commissioned officers- that were left on board the PANDORA when it sank in 1791.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: HMS PANDORA

    Web title: HMS PANDORA

    Related People
    Model Maker: John Wright

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