HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Acting Lieutenant Fletcher Christian successfully leads a mutiny against Captain William Bligh on the HMS Bounty. The Bounty was tasked with retrieving breadfruit plants from Tahiti and transplanting them to the West Indes to be used as a staple food source.
Bligh was only a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, but the nature of the Bounty's mission made him the ranking officer on board the ship. Bounty was small, only 90 feet long; a good portion of the ship's living quarters were converted to greenhouse space so that breadfruit plants could be stored and kept for a long journey around the globe. This reduced the crew significantly and removed the normal compliment of Royal Marines usually present.
Once the Bounty arrived at Tahiti, a five month layover was required to mature the some one thousand breadfruit plants for transport. During this time a large number of the crew including Christian spent most of their time on the island consorting with Tahitian women and enjoying themselves. Captain Bligh did not take very kindly to what he perceived as a "laxness of duty," and he constantly berated and insulted his crew. Once the men set sail from Tahiti, Christian launched the now infamous mutiny.
Christian sent Bligh and 18 other men adrift at sea with only paltry supplies and a sextant. The Bounty then sailed for several other nearby islands. Remarkably, Captain Bligh navigated the small boat by the stars and by compass over 4,100 miles to safety. He made it back to England and accounted for the loss of his ship, receiving a promotion. The Admiralty sent the HMS Pandora to retrieve the treacherous mutineers, but she was unsuccessful in finding Christian; Pandora sank on the Great Barrier Reef in August 1791.
After setting Bligh adrift, Christian sailed the Bounty to Pitcairn Island where he intended to settle. The Bounty burned in what is now called Bounty Bay in January 1790. Fletcher Christian's exact fate is unknown.