The Final Trip of the Alceste in 1816
Scarce map of Southeast Asia, illustrating the route take by HMS Alceste, carrying Lord Amherst on his 1816 diplomatic mission to China. On the return journey, she struck a reef in the Java Sea, which was subsequently plundered and burned by Malayan pirates.
The map details the route taken by Amherst, along with the place the ship was lost, between Billiton and Bank islands.
HMS Alceste was built at Rochefort in 1804 for the French Navy as Minerve, an Armide-class frigate. In the spring of 1806, prior to her capture, she engaged HMS Pallas, then under Lord Cochrane. During the duel she ran aground, but Cochrane had to abort his attack when French reinforcements appeared.
The British seized the ship in September 1806, and the Royal Navy took Minerve into service as Alceste in March 1807.
Alceste continued to serve throughout the Napoleonic Wars. On November 29, 1811, Alceste led a British squadron that captured a French military convoy carrying more than 200 cannon to Trieste in the Balkans. After this loss, Napoleon changed the direction of his planned eastward expansion in 1812 from the Balkans to Russia. The British historian James Henderson has suggested that the two events were linked, and may have changed the course of the war.
In 1814, Alceste was converted to a troopship and used to transport British soldiers to North America during the War of 1812. Following the Treaty of Paris in 1815, Alceste carried Lord Amherst on his 1816 diplomatic mission to China. On the return journey, she struck a reef in the Java Sea; her wreck was subsequently plundered and burned by Malayan pirates.