Long-lost Ernest Shackleton ship HMS Endurance rediscovered 107 years after sinking near Antarctica in 'world's most challenging shipwreck search'

AFTER sinking 107 years ago, the wreck of HMS Endurance has been rediscovered near Antarctica.

Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 10:51 am

Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship became trapped in sea ice and sank in 1915.

The wooden vessel has not been seen since it went down in the Weddell Sea.

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Dr John Shears, the expedition leader, called the mission to find HMS Endurance 'the world’s most challenging shipwreck search'. Picture: Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust/National Georgraphic/PA

In February, the Endurance22 Expedition set off from Cape Town, South Africa, a month after the 100th anniversary of Sir Ernest’s death on a mission to locate it.

The Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust said Endurance was found at a depth of 3,008 metres and approximately four miles south of the position originally recorded by the ship’s captain Frank Worsley.

Mensun Bound, the expedition’s director of exploration, said footage of Endurance showed it to be intact and ‘by far the finest wooden shipwreck’ he has seen.

He added: ‘We are overwhelmed by our good fortune in having located and captured images of Endurance.

Handout photo dated October 1915 issued by the Royal Geographic Society with RBG of The Endurance keeling over. Picture: Royal Geographic Society.

‘It is upright, well proud of the seabed, intact, and in a brilliant state of preservation. You can even see ‘Endurance’ arced across the stern, directly below the taffrail.

‘This is a milestone in polar history.’

Dr John Shears, the expedition leader, said his team, which was accompanied by historian Dan Snow, had made ‘polar history’ by completing what he called ‘the world’s most challenging shipwreck search’.

He said: ‘In addition, we have undertaken important scientific research in a part of the world that directly affects the global climate and environment.

Photo issued by Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust of (left to right) John Shears, Expedition Leader, Mensun Bound, Director of Exploration, Nico Vincent, Expedition Sub-Sea Manager, J.C. Caillens, Off-Shore Manager, holding the first scan of the Endurance wreckage alongside photos from Frank Hurley, during the expedition to find the wreck of Endurance, Sir Ernest Shackleton's ship which has not been seen since it was crushed by the ice and sank in the Weddell Sea in 1915. Picture: Esther Horvath/Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust.

‘We have also conducted an unprecedented educational outreach programme, with live broadcasting from on board, allowing new generations from around the world to engage with Endurance22 and become inspired by the amazing stories of polar exploration, and what human beings can achieve and the obstacles they can overcome when they work together.

Sir Ernest and his crew set out to achieve the first land crossing of Antarctica but Endurance did not reach land and became trapped in dense pack ice, forcing the 28 men on board to eventually abandon ship.

They were stuck in the ice for around 10 months, before escaping in lifeboats and on foot.

Historian Dan Snow said on Twitter: ‘Endurance has been found. Discovered at 3,000 metres on March 5 2022, 100 years to the day since Shackleton was buried.

S.A. Agulhas II, from the South African polar expedition team. Picture: Nick Birtwistle/Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust.

‘After weeks of searching Endurance was found within the search box conceived by Mensun Bound, only just over four miles south of the location at which its captain Frank Worsley calculated it had sunk.

‘The entire team aboard #Endurance22 are happy and a little exhausted!

‘Nothing was touched on the wreck.

‘Nothing retrieved. It was surveyed using the latest tools and its position confirmed.

‘It is protected by the Antarctic Treaty.

‘Nor did we wish to tamper with it.’

He said the wreck is ‘coherent’ and in an ‘astonishing state of preservation’.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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