The discovery of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship, Endurance is being hailed as one of the greatest Antarctic finds this century, by those at the helm of conserving Antarctic history.
The team at the Antarctic Heritage Trust is delighted that Endurance22 Expedition has successfully located the wreck of the Endurance.
Crushed by ice in the Weddell Sea, the ship 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.
Antarctic Heritage Trust Executive Director Nigel Watson says this is a landmark find from one of the most remarkable stories from the heroic age of Antarctic exploration.
“To see the stunning imagery of the ship so well preserved in the Antarctic waters is fantastic”.
“The circumstances surrounding the Endurance and its demise in the Weddell Sea led to one of the greatest survival stories and now it feels like we can write the final chapter more than 100 years later. It’s fitting it has been found in the centenary year of the end of the heroic age of Antarctic exploration.”
Antarctic Heritage Trust has been involved in earlier famous discoveries, such as the century-old fruitcake found in the first expedition base built in Antarctica and Shackleton’s whisky, found under Shackleton’s 1908 Antarctic base.
A world leader in cold climate conservation, AHT cares for the expedition bases and more than 20,000 items left behind by the early Antarctic explorers, including Sir Ernest Shackleton, Captain Robert Scott and Carsten Borchgrevink.
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 the 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.
Nigel says, “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 no doubt a critical factor.”
The Endurance22 expedition deployed SAAB Sabertooth underwater vehicles, which were able to travel under the ice, and could reach sites up to 100 miles away from where they launched.
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