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Napoleon Bonaparte's getaway ship found in Australian waters

(Xinhua)    13:27, June 15, 2015

SYDNEY, June 15 -- The ship French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte used to sneak back to France while in exile has been found in Australia, a Queensland shipwreck hunter has claimed.

Australian filmmaker and shipwreck hunter, Ben Cropp, claimed that he's found the final resting place of the 337-ton brig " Swiftsure" in shallow, crocodile infested waters off far north Queensland, Local media reported on Monday.

Queensland authorities are verifying the claim.

The significance of the find dates to 1815 when Napoleon was living in exile on the island off Elba, off Italy, following a defeat during his march on Russia in 1814.

Napoleon escaped the island by commandeering a 337-ton brig named L'Inconstant, later renamed the Swiftsure to retake his homeland, famously confronting the soldiers of King Louis XVIII and ultimately forcing the monarch into exile.

England later seized the brig as a war prize after the battle of Waterloo, renamed her and used her on the England-Australia shipping route.

The brig was believed to have sank after striking a coral reef on the great barrier reef while en route from Sydney to Mauritius in 1829.

Cropp said it took years of meticulous research to narrow the search area, with the final line of debris he found during a scuba- dive corroborating reports from a ships log in 1830 which noted wreckers stripping the vessel of it's valuables.

Cropp made the discovery in November 2014, however kept it secret as plans were made to create a film of the discovery. Those plans were abandoned due to the site being highly decomposed and in crocodile infested waters.

"I counted six crocodile tracks leading into the water a mile away and that's not funny. My dive there (in November 2014) was very brief," Cropp said.


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