The lost ship of British-Irish explorer Ernest Shackleton, which sunk off the coast of Antarctica more than a century ago, has been recovered. At one point in 1915, the Endurance was stuck by deep pack ice, prompting Shackleton as well as his men to pull off an incredible rescue mission.
Mansun Bound, the director of the exploration at the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust, which coordinated the expedition that found the wooden schooner 107 years later, claimed it was “essentially intact.” As Bound informed NBC News, “”the preservation is beyond comprehension.” The vessel’s name can still be seen engraved across its stern, Bound said.
Endurance has been found.
Discovered at 3000 metres on 5 March 2022
— Dan Snow (@thehistoryguy) March 9, 2022
“It’s beautiful,” he said. He added that he had “never ever seen a wreck as bold and beautiful as this,” in the 30 years he had spent working on shipwrecks. “It just doesn’t get any better,” he said.
Scientists believe the frigid waters of the Weddell Sea helped preserve the ship, according to archaeologist Dan Snow, whose digital platform History Hit collaborated with the mission to describe the find. “It’s very frigid out there.” A few degrees below zero, maybe,” was his best guess. In other words, the vessel was free of “wood-eating germs and microorganisms,” as he put it.
Shackleton died in 1922, and this finding marks one hundred years after his expedition lost contact with the ship. When the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition was launched in late 1914, Shackleton, as well as his team, set out to traverse Antarctica by land for the first time, despite the advent of the First Ww1.
He volunteered to postpone the trip and give his vessel to the British authorities, but Winston Churchill, then the leader of the Royal Navy in the United Kingdom, ordered him to continue. Despite their best efforts, the crew of the Endurance failed to make landfall and was finally forced to evacuate the ship after being trapped in thick pack ice for more than a year. They made their way to safety by ferry and on foot.
The Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust reported that Captain Frank Worsley’s notes on the location of the ship’s sinking played a major influence in their finding of the ship. With Worsley’s data in hand, a group of scientists scoured the Weddell Sea for over 10,000 feet to find the ship.
After commencing the trip in Feb, they found their find a few weeks later. Underneath the Antarctic Treaty, the wreckage will be preserved as a Heritage Site and Monument, guaranteeing that it will not be damaged during surveys and filming.
A significant part of their mission was to “introduce Shackleton, his vessel, as well as individuals of his crew to a fresh and young public,” according to the trust. And now, according to Bound, “anyone can re-explore the entire Shackleton story” because of the ship’s finding.