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Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance Ship Found in Antarctica 107 Years After Sinking
Paul Seaburn March 10, 2022
On December 17, 1912, a ship named Polaris was launched from the Framnæs shipyard in Sandefjord, Norway. Considered to be one of the sturdiest wooden ships ever made, it was originally built to be used for polar bear hunting cruises. When financial problems killed that idea, the owners sold it at a loss to polar explorer Ernest Shackleton. Under Shackleton, it was renamed Endurance and set sail from the UK in 1914 on the Imperial Trans-Antarctic expedition of 1914–1917—an attempt to make the first land crossing of the Antarctic continent. Unfortunately, Shackelton’s Endurance was caught in the pack ice of the Weddell Sea before reaching its destination and stayed stuck through the winter of 1915 before being crushed and sinking to the bottom. The story of how Shackelton managed to save his entire crew and return all to safety is the stuff of legend. Now his ship can reach legendary status as well — on March 9, 2022, 107 years after it sank, the wreck of Endurance was found.
Endurance under sail, Antarctic Ocean, c. 1915, by Frank Hurley (public domain)
“One hundred years after Shackleton’s death, Endurance was found at a depth of 3008 meters in the Weddell Sea, within the search area defined by the expedition team before its departure from Cape Town, and approximately four miles south of the position originally recorded by Captain Worsley.”
The press release for the Endurance22 Expedition announced the finding with outstanding photographs and videos of the well-reserved Endurance on the bottom of the Weddell Sea at a depth of nearly 10,000 feet. The icebreaker S. A. Agulhas II was equipped with remotely operated submersibles by the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust (FMHT) and sailed under mission leader and polar geographer Dr John Shears, who told the BBS this was “the world’s most difficult shipwreck search, battling constantly shifting sea-ice, blizzards, and temperatures dropping down to -18C.”
Using detailed records kept by Captain Frank Worsley, the Captain of the Endurance, the expedition was able to find the general vicinity of the wreck, then spent two weeks combing likely target areas before locating the wreck site on the 100th anniversary of Shackleton’s funeral. Because the wreck is a designated monument under the international Antarctic Treaty, no artifacts have been recovered. However, there’s no question what ship this is – photos and videos clearly show the name “Endeavor” and its polestar emblem on the stern, which is in unspoiled condition due to the cold water and lack of wood-eating microbes in the Weddell Sea.
Ernest Shackleton, leader of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (public domain)
According to The New York Times, the more than $10 million cost of the Endurance22 Expedition was covered by an anonymous donor. And, despite being in the same place where the Endurance sank, the search was relatively uneventful … except for the end.
An extensive collection of photos of the entire expedition can be seen on the Endurance 22 website and an underwater video can be seen here.https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-60662541
Endurance: Shackleton’s lost ship is found in Antarctic
What was one of the world’s greatest undiscovered shipwrecks is identified on the Antarctic seafloor.