In March 1857, Captain Sotheby and his men aboard HMS Pearl found themselves off the Peruvian coast as part of their patrol duties. Britain had declared that it was neutral in the country’s ongoing civil war despite having worked with the established government for many years and so was allowed to drop anchor near the disputed Callao port without opposition from either side. On March 24th 1857, the officers of the Pearl organised a soiree aboard their vessel inviting some of the more influential people from Callao and Lima as well as members of the British consul aboard for drinks, music and food.
As the night went on reports began to filter down that would potentially have serious consequences for Great Britain and the Royal Navy in the region. The reports stated that a British supply ship, the New Grenada belonging to the Pacific Steam Navigation Company, had been seized by rebel vessel’s on Peru’s north-west coast. Among the New Grenada’s cargo was a sum of money equivalent to 32,000 dollars as well as personal and official dispatches and other assorted goods. The Admiralty continued to investigate the claims and when it was confirmed that a British ship had indeed been taken by the rebels the Pearl was ordered to sail for Lambayeque and recover it, the crew and the cargo.
For the full story read HMS Pearl and the “New Grenada” Incident, 1857