Press Release


Arqueonautas discovers the sunken 1650 Ternate Fleet in Indonesia

Lisbon, May 16th, 2016 – Arqueonautas Worldwide / Arqueologia Subaquática, S.A. (AWW), in co- operation with Maresearch Indonesia, the regional Bureau for the Protection of Cultural Heritage South Sulawesi (BPCB Sulawesi), the Association for Saving Underwater Cultural Heritage (ASUCH), Hamburg, and Sony Computer Entertainment Germany for Uncharted 4: A Thief ́s End, announces the discovery of a Dutch East India Company fleet lost during a 1650 voyage to the Indonesian Spice Island Ternate. An initial film trailer is available at

On March 4, 1650, two hours before daybreak, the fleet’s five ships stranded on the reef of Sagori, a then still uncharted atoll some miles west off the island of Kabaena, Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. All efforts to refloat the ships proved fruitless; however, in the next two months the nearly 600 shipwrecked sailors and soldiers managed to construct a new vessel out of the remains of their small fleet. Concurrently, they established diplomatic ties with the nearby Sultanate of Buton that were to shape the political landscape of the region for the next 300 years.

‘Since the discovery of the journal of the events, in the National Archives of the Netherlands, more than ten years ago I have been hoping that the remains of this fleet would finally be located,’ stated Dr. Horst Liebner, the leader of the expedition, adding that ‘our close and productive collaboration with the people of Sagori Island and the local administration should now be a good base for further exploration of the site’. For the Director of the regional Bureau for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, Dr. Laode Muhammad Aksa, the discovery of the final resting place of the East Indiamen is a pioneering example for an international co-operation that should be expanded upon: ‘We will continue with the archaeological campaign by next year – yet ideally with further support from the Netherlands, the country of origin of the ships, and Germany, where many of the soldiers aboard the fleet had come from.’

‘The pre-survey of the 1650 Ternate Fleet by far exceeded our expectations. Based on a co- operation with Sony Computer Entertainment Germany for the newly published computer game Uncharted 4: A Thief ́s End we could obtain a co-sponsorship for the funding of the expedition, while the seamless collaboration with the Bureau for the Protection of Historic Monuments in Sulawesi was a perfect example of how such surveys and research expeditions could be handled in the future’, says AWW‘s chairman and initiator of the project, Nikolaus Graf Sandizell, from Lisbon. ‘Our team, led by the historian Horst Liebner and the maritime archaeologist Dr. Thomas Förster of the German Oceanographic Museum at Stralsund, were able to detect the remnants of two vessels, one of which we believe to be the Tijger, the flagship of the fleet. Nonetheless, this is only the start of the research; the people of Sagori Island know about at least three further possible sites that now are covered by thick layers of sediment driven onto the reef during the last west monsoon and hence still need to be studied in detail. With great excitement I am looking forward to the continuation of this maritime detective story’.

Regarding the co-operation with Arqueonautas, Jochen Färber, PR Manager of Sony Computer Entertainment Germany, in Frankfurt, stated: ‘As part of our Uncharted video game series, we have been plotting our storylines with the fictional-romantic side of modern adventure and treasure hunters. Our excellent collaboration with Arqueonautas has provided both ourselves and our audience with a completely new behind the scenes perspective of this exciting subject. Information on Uncharted 4: A Thief ́s End can be found at

Photos, charts, and additional historical background information on the project can be downloaded at: and

Arqueonautas Worldwide – Arqueologia Subaquática, S.A. (AWW) was founded in August 1995 in Portugal and has since then become a leading marine archeological institution for shallow-water operations (up to 60 meters). Arqueonautas works under government licenses to protect endangered, historically relevant shipwrecks adhering to strict academic criteria.

With head offices based in Portugal, a professional team of historical researchers, marine archeologists, expert divers and conservators work in coordination with the company’s founder and CBO, Nikolaus Graf Sandizell, around the globe on a number of survey and recovery projects.

The company’s mission is to protect world maritime heritage and advance learning through scientifically conducted marine archaeological projects, which are sponsored through the Arqueonautas lifestyle-brand (ARQ) and cooperation partners.

To date, Arqueonautas has discovered more than 300 shipwrecks in Africa, Asia, South America and Europe. Fifteen historical shipwrecks have been excavated and approximately 100,000 coins and over 10,000 culturally relevant artefacts have been rescue-recovered, documented and published, with representative collections on display in various museums in Africa, Asia and Europe.

The Arqueonautas lifestyle brand (ARQ) was under license by the Otto Group Germany until 30.04.2016. AWW is now once again the sole owner of all license rights and is actively working to relaunch the ARQ fashion label. (Arqueonautas Worldwide SA Homepage) (Arqueonautas Foundation) / +351 21 4663040

Cooperation Partners:

  • –  Sony Computer Entertainment Germany (Co-Sponsor)
  • –  The regional Bureau for the Protection of Historic Monuments in Makassar, Indonesia (Licensing and Supervision)
  • –  PT Maresearch Indonesia in Jakarta, Indonesia, a subsidiary of AWW (Logistics and Expertise)
  • –  ASUCH, Association for Saving Underwater Cultural Heritage, in Hamburg, a non-profit organisation founded by AWW (Historical Research)