18 Apr 2005

France launches mission to find fleet that vanished in Solomon Islands in 1788

6:45 am on 18 April 2005

A French expedition is expected to set out for Solomon Islands today, in a bid to shed more light on the disappearance of the fleet led by the explorer Laperouse in 1788.

The mission has unprecedented support from the French government.

The naval transporter, Jacques Cartier, is set to leave Noumea, in New Caledonia, with 70 people on board, including archaeologists, surveyors, and forensic surgeons.

The crew also include archaeological research divers, navy divers trained in removing mines, geophysicists, and an official artist.

Since 1981, there have been six expeditions involving the Solomon Association of Noumea, led by Alain Conan.

The association has sought to reveal how Laperouse's two frigates, the Boussole and the Astrolabe, went down with all hands, near Vanikoro in Solomon Islands.