HMS Bounty (1784)

Admiralty plans of the Bounty. Originals in the collections of the Royal Museums Greenwich.

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Ship Type

Launched in 1784, Bethia was a collier built in England. She operated in the private sector until 23 May, 1787, when she was sold to the Royal Navy for a special project. Refitted and armed with four 4-pounder guns, and ten swivel guns, she was renamed HMS Bounty, and placed under the command of William Bligh. Bounty set sail for the Pacific on 23 December, and made her way to the Pacific via the Indian Ocean. Bounty reached Tahiti the following October, and began loading breadfruit plants, intended for introduction to the Caribbean as a cheap food source for the slave populations there. Bounty departed on 4 April, 1789, and headed West, but a mutiny broke out on the 28th. Bligh and about half the crew were set off in the ship's boat, and Bounty continued first to Tubuai, then back to Tahiti, where sixteen of the remaining crew tried to settle. Bounty and the remaining crew, plus some natives, eventually made their way to Pitcairn Island, where everything of use was offloaded before the ship was burned on 23 January, 1790. Some pieces of the wreck were taken in 1825 and turned into souvenirs. The wreck was identified in 1957, and some of her remains have been salvaged. The rudder is on display at the Fiji Museum in Suva, and one of the 4-pounders is on display at a community hall on Pitcairn Island.