24 Mar 2005

Major French expedition planned to track Laperouse in Solomons

11:05 am on 24 March 2005

Three French ministries will launch a joint expedition next month to research the disappearance of the 18th century French navigator Laperouse in Solomon Islands.

Laperouse's fleet hit a reef in Vanikoro in 1788, ending a voyage of discovery in the Pacific.

More than 200 French experts will now take part in the month-long expedition, code-named Vanikoro 2005, which comes two years after a skeleton was found of one of Laperouse ships' crew.

The ministries of defence, culture and research will send archeologists, divers, geophysicists, a linguist and other specialists to find out what happened to the explorers.