THE Royal Charlotte brought convicts to Australia, carried troops to India and served as a warning beacon to other vessels, and scientists now want her to help them understand trade between fledging colonies in the early 19th Century.
The only problem is she's been under water for more than 180 years.
The Indian built ship ran aground in the Frederick Reef, off the Queensland coast, on June 11, 1825, resulting in two deaths.
A party was sent to Moreton Bay, while the rest of the ship's 100 passengers - soldiers and their families - scraped their way to a sandy coral quay, where military discipline and ingenuity ensured their survival for six weeks, after which help finally came.
It's a remarkable story which an expedition is trying to complete as they search for the Royal Charlotte's remains.
The two-week expedition, led by Australian National Maritime Museum marine archaeologist Kieran Hosty, will depart Gladstone tomorrow.
Mr Hosty said the crew will search a 14 nautical mile by 4 nautical mile (26km x 7km) area of shallow water.
There was evidence the ship had survived several years after the wreck, Mr Hosty said.
"There's accounts that the Royal Charlotte was still sitting there four years later, and being used as a beacon," he said.
"When the area was accurately charted thirty years later, the Royal Navy navigators found remains of an Indian-built ship they called the Queen Charlotte.
He said the ship's construction meant it had a chance of survival.
"It's interesting, because the Royal was an Indian built ship, so it was made out of teak, which is quite a robust material," he said.
"However, this is a tropical environment - there's all sorts of insects which eat timber and there have been numerous cyclones in the area.
"We're not going to find a ship as people would imagine. We're more likely to find a scattering of timbers and hopefully buried material."
Mr Hosty said the remains could shine light on the early trade between colonial Sydney and India.
"There was an ad hoc trade system where anything and everything was traded," he said.
"At first it was general supplies and provisions, but later on there were timbers, coal, alcohol. Even horses and exotic animals."
Read more: http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/maritime-crew-to-search-for-royal-mess/story-e6frfku0-1226235801520#ixzz1j7PRCPzI