South Pacific wreck may be full of pirate treasure

Treasure ship site

By Kathy Marks - The Independent

The wreck of a 19th-century pirate ship believed to contain a hoard of treasure may finally have been found off Tonga, according to officials on the South Pacific island.

The Port-au-Prince, a British privateer which had seized treasure from French and Spanish vessels, sailed into Tongan waters in 1806 in search of whales.

However, it was seized by the local chief, Finau Ulukalala II, whose warriors massacred most of the crew, including the captain, William Thompson, and then scuttled it, so Tongan legend goes.

Although the chief salvaged cannons and iron – then of great value in Tonga – from the ship, the rest of the treasure was supposedly left intact.

Sandra Fifita, a local tourism official, said the Port-au-Prince's hold was believed to contain "a considerable amount of copper, silver and gold … along with a number of silver candlesticks, incense pans, crucifixes and chalices".

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