Shackleton’s lost ship Endurance found 107 years after sinking off Antarctica

Sir Ernest Shackleton's vessel has not been seen since it was crushed by the ice and sank in the Weddell Sea in 1915.

Sir Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship found 107 years after sinking off Antarctica Handout

The wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance has been found 107 years after it became trapped in before being crushed by ice and sank off the coast of Antarctica.

The wooden ship had not been seen since it went down in the Weddell Sea in 1915, and 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, Endurance was discovered only around four miles south of the position originally recorded by the ship’s captain Frank Worsley at a depth of 3008 metres and in “a brilliant state of preservation”.

“This is by far the finest wooden shipwreck I have ever seen,” said the expedition’s director of exploration, Mensun Bound.

“We are overwhelmed by our good fortune in having located and captured images of Endurance.

“This is a milestone in polar history.”

The ship is upright, proud of the seabed, intact and you can see its name “Endurance” arced across the stern in images shared by the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust.

Historian Dan Snow, who accompanied the team, said the ship was in “astonishing” condition and described the footage they have captured as “magical”.

‘The world’s most challenging shipwreck search’

Expedition leader Dr John Shears

The wreck is protected as a Historic Site and Monument under the Antarctic Treaty, ensuring that whilst it is being surveyed and filmed it will not be touched or disturbed in any way.

Expedition leader Dr John Shears said the mission had been called “the world’s most challenging shipwreck search”.

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

The stern of the Endurance with the name and emblematic polestar. Handout

“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.”

In late 1914, Sir Ernest and his crew set out to achieve the first crossing of Antarctica from the Weddell Sea via the South Pole to the Ross Sea.

But Endurance encountered difficulties, became stuck in dense pack ice in early 1915.

After around ten months, the 28 men onboard had no choice but to abandon ship and set up a makeshift camp on the ice, as they watched their vessel become overwhelmed.

Dan Snow said on Twitter: “Endurance has been found. Discovered at 3000 metres on March 5, 2022, 100 years to the day since Shackleton was buried.

“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.”

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