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The wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton's ship Endurance has been found

Participants in a search expedition have announced that they have successfully found the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance. Less than a fortnight ago, we reported on the launch of an expedition to find the wreck of the ship Endurance. It was aboard this vessel that Irish explorer and traveller Sir Ernest Shackleton set
Published: March 9, 2022 - 09:00
Updated: July 23, 2023 - 00:15
The wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance has been found

Participants in a search expedition have announced that they have successfully found the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance.

Less than a fortnight ago, we reported on the launch of an expedition to find the wreck of the ship Endurance. It was aboard this vessel that Irish explorer and traveller Sir Ernest Shackleton set off on an imperial transantarctic expedition in 1914.

Wooden wreck of the Endurance at the bottom of the Weddell Sea
Endurance wreck found in the Weddell Sea Photo Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust / National Geographic

Representatives of the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust have announced that the wreck that rests sunk off the Antarctic coast has been found. This brings to an end a search that has lasted over 100 years since the Endurance was last seen on the surface of the Weddell Sea.

Trapped by ice

The vessel was immobilised and trapped by the ice masses, and then damaged under their pressure. The 28 expedition members, among them Shackleton himself, had to make a desperate fight for their lives. In October 1915, taking supplies from the ship, they set off on a trek that would lead them back to civilisation.

Meanwhile, the ice-damaged Endurance disappeared into the depths of the Weddell Sea. Over the years, several attempts have been made to find the wreck of the famous vessel, but without success. Until now.

Expedition to the shipwreck of the Endurance

The participants of the Endurance22 expedition set off in February from Cape Town South Africa on board the icebreaker Agulhas II. The goal was one, but the mission was not an easy one. Fortunately, despite the failures of previous missions and difficult weather conditions, the researchers achieved their goal.

Icebreaker Agulhas II
Icebreaker Agulhas II Photo: Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust / National Geographic

Searchers have located the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance ship at a depth of 3008 metres. The vessel is resting on the seabed, about four miles south of the position recorded by the ship’s captain Frank Worsley.

The Endurance22 expedition has reached its goal. With the discovery of the Endurance wreck, we have made polar history and successfully completed the world’s most difficult search for a shipwreck. In addition, we have undertaken important scientific research in a part of the world that has a direct impact on the global climate and environment said Dr John Shears, expedition leader.

Name of ship on stern
The name ‘Endurance’ visible on the stern Photo Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust / National Geographic

Shears also reported that, based on the video footage they have collected, he believes the wreck of the Endurance is intact and is by far the best preserved wooden shipwreck he has seen.

This is by far the finest wooden shipwreck I have ever seen. Settled flush on her keel, she is clearly visible above the seabed, intact and in excellent state of preservation. You can even see the inscription “Endurance” running along the stern, directly under the railing. This is a milestone in polar history added Dr Shears.

The researchers stressed that they hope their discovery will interest and inspire young people. The discovery of the Endurance wreck is also a tribute to the navigational skills of Captain Frank Worsley. It was Captain Endurance’s detailed notes that proved invaluable in the search for the wreck.

Photo: Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust / National Geographic

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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