13 Aug 2012

Tonga shipwreck being examined

5:12 am on 13 August 2012

A diving expert in Tonga says identifying the newly discovered ship recently discovered on a reef in the Ha'apai group is the top priority now.

The owner of Matafonua Lodge says everyone's been very excited since his friend Tevita Moala looked down in the water and thought he saw a ship's anchor on the seabed.

Darren Rice says the Port-au-Prince is a very famous wreck in Ha'apai and its been searched for, for two hundred years.

He says the area suffered high swells for most of the year and the structure has been destroyed but the debris field is extensive.

He says an agency in the United Kingdom is helping to analyse photographs taken of the wreck.

"I'd like to identify it first. We need to identify it without question, what it is. Whether it is the Port-au-Prince or it's not. If it's not, I think that's even more of a mystery, than the current one that we have now. I mean where did it come from? It's got an admiralty anchor, admiralty designed anchor. So I'm just guessing and I'm not an expert by any means, I'm just guessing that it comes from the UK."

Darren Rice says more work will be done on the find once the whale watching season is over and the weather calms.