The stern of the Endurance with the name and emblematic polestar. © Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust and National Geographic
In March 2022, the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust’s Endurance 22 Expedition successfully located the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship Endurance. Our congratulations go out to the expedition team who have made this discovery.
Crushed by ice in the Weddell Sea, Endurance sunk in 1915, and sparked an incredible tale of survival. Previous attempts to unearth the ship have been thwarted by heavy sea ice, including the loss of a remote search vehicle. This is a landmark find from one of the most remarkable stories of the heroic age of Antarctic exploration and it is fitting it has been found in the centenary year of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s passing.
Commander F.A. Worsley. Photographer unknown, c.1920. © Frank A. Worsley Collection, Akaroa Museum. Donated by Patrick Bamford
The New Zealand connection to the Endurance story is strong. Captain Frank Worsley was born in Akaroa, New Zealand but a life at sea took him to London. Sir Ernest Shackleton hired Worsley for his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition and made him captain of the expedition ship Endurance.
The expedition party were forced to abandon the ship in October 1915 after Endurance was crushed by ice floes in the Weddell Sea.
Worsley’s role in ensuring the survival of the men was crucial as he navigated their three lifeboats to Elephant Island where they repurposed their largest boat, the James Caird, in the hopes that they could use it to get them to the whaling station at South Georgia, 1300km away.
Worsley managed to safely steer the James Caird to South Georgia amongst strong winds and powerful currents with only four sightings over the 16-day voyage.
This journey is still referred to as one of the most heroic ocean voyages of all time and its success came down to Worsley’s navigation skills and unbreakable perseverance under the most difficult circumstances.
Stories of exploration and bravery have the ability to transcend time and many generations. Captain Frank Worsley’s act of recording the final position of Endurance in his logbook all those years ago was acknowledged by the search crew as a critical factor in finding the wreck. It was a remarkable and unheralded act by an incredible navigator in a time before GPS, but given the quality of his navigation skills is not a surprise.
James Blake and Trust Executive Director Nigel Watson crossing South Georgia in 2015 on the Trust’s Inspiring Explorers Expedition™. © AHT
James Blake on Endurance22 Expedition Team
Trust alumnus James Blake was Director of Photography on the Endurance22 Expedition. He is creating a feature documentary on the search and discovery for Disney+ and National Geographic. James was controlling the camera when the iconic footage of Endurance were captured.
Through the Trust, James has a special connection to Sir Ernest Shackleton’s legacy and the story of the Endurance. In January 2007 he visited Shackleton’s Nimrod hut at Cape Royds in Antarctica to launch the Trust’s Antarctic Youth Ambassador programme in partnership with Blake Trust and Antarctica New Zealand and was involved in the work to uncover Shackleton’s whisky.
In 2015, to honour the centenary of Shackleton’s crossing of South Georgia, James took part in the Trust’s inaugural Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ to retrace the epic crossing made by Shackleton, Worsley and Crean to raise the alarm and get help for the crew of the Endurance.
He produced a film about the crossing called The Last 36.