A furious sea battle was fought 144 years ago this week, at Bias Bay, on 1 October 1849, between the pirate junks of Chi-apoo and the gunboats of the Royal Navy. The Hong Kong squadron consisted of HMS Columbine, the paddle steamer HMS Fury and the boats of HMS Hastings, which were towed into position by the P&O steamer Canton. They cornered the pirate fleet at Bias Bay, 40 miles east of Hong Kong. Aboard HMS Fury was Edward Cree, a Naval Surgeon. He described the battle in his diary: ''They opened fire from their whole line almost before we were within range. Fury was then moved 500 yards and fire opened from the bow and starboard guns as they bore on the enemy, who returned well-sustained fire. ''About twenty of their shot struck the Fury, but most went overhead. One struck the paddle-box and wounded the helmsman in the leg and passed through the Captain's skylight; another went through the signal-locker and the gunroom roun d-house; another smashed the bath and harness casks in the paddle-box. ''Soon the nearest junks were blown up by shell from the Fury and a lot more set on fire. ''The firing of shot, shell and grape was too hot for the rascals and all junks were in a blaze, as many pirates as were able were swarming over the sides and swimming for the shore.'' The squadron destroyed 26 pirate junks. Head-money was paid on 1,800 pirates and the crews were awarded GBP15,000 by the Courts of Admiralty. Between 1849-1850 the British sailors of the China Station were so successful in their war against piracy, that they were awarded GBP76,690 in prize money. This was too much for the British Admiralty and bounty for the capture of pirates was stopped in 1850.