HMS Pandora was a 24-gun Porcupine-class sixth-rate post ship of the Royal Navy launched in May 1779. She is best known as the ship sent in 1790 to search for the BOUNTY and the mutineers who had taken her.

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The PANDORA was a 35m long frigate (keel length 29m) built in 1779, which carried 24 guns, and was commanded by Captain Edward Edwards. She left England in November 1790 and rounded Cape Horn to reach the Pacific. In 1791 PANDORA reached Tahiti and arrested 14 mutineers there. The prisoners were put in a cage on deck, which fittingly got the name “Pandora’s box”.

Finding no more mutineers, PANDORA headed back for England. The nearest way back was Torres Straits – the narrow and shallow passage between Australia and New Guinea. This is also next to the northern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. An area full of submerged coral rocks hidden slightly below surface, with only a few navigable passages.

The PANDORA hit one of the rocks and sank. Most of the crew and prisoners survived, and continued with the ship’s boats to Batavia (present Jakarta). Later, the mutineers were finally tried in London and three of them were hanged.

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