10 March 1788: French exploration vessels, Astrolabe, Boussole, Commander Jean-Francois Galaup, Comte de la Perouse wrecked on Tucopia Island

French exploration vessel. Commander Jean-Francois Galaup, Comte de la Perouse, sailed from Botany Bay, NSW, on 10 March 1788, on the Astrolabe, in company with the vessel Boussole, with the intention of heading north, but disappeared.

Lost on Vanikoro Island in the Solomon Islands: Their fate was finally discovered thirty-nine years later when Captain Peter Dillon, commanding the vessel St. Patrick, noted relics from the French vessels at Tucopia Island, between new Hebrides and Santa Cruz group of the Solomons. He returned in 1827 in the vessel Research and discovered that the surviving crew had landed on Vanikoro Island in the Solomon Islands, where they were probably massacred. One group apparently managed to built a boat from parts of the wreckage, but they were never heard of again. It appears that the vessels had been anchored near each other and had both been driven ashore in a gale. A later expedition under Dumont dUrville in a vessel named Astrolab, visited the Santa Cruz Islands in 1828 and confirmed Dillon’s report. Perouse’s two vessels were located in 1962 by a New Zealander engineer and diver Reece Discombe, resident in Vanuatu. For his achievement he was awarded the National Order of Merit by President Charles de Gaulle.

Encyclopedia of Australian Shipwrecks

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