After More Than 100 Years, Expedition Finds the Wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Ship Near Antarctica

“We are overwhelmed by our good fortune in having located and captured images of Endurance. This is by far the finest wooden shipwreck I have ever seen,” said Mensun Bound, Director of Exploration on the Endurance22 Expedition, which found Sir Ernest Shackleton’s long-lost ship in the Weddell Sea. “It is upright, well proud of the seabed, intact, and in a brilliant state of preservation. You can even see ‘Endurance’ arced across the stern, directly below the taffrail.”

Photo: YouTube/PBS NewsHour

The Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust celebrates the success of the expedition and congratulates everyone who has been involved in the discovery of the historic ship, HMS Endurance. The organization has been collaborating with South Africa to attain their objective to locate, survey, and document the entire expedition in film, which National Geographic plans to air this year as part of its Explorer Series.

According to Donald Lamont, trust chairman, “This success has been the result of impressive cooperation among many people, both on board the remarkable S.A. Agulhas II with its outstanding Master and crew, a skilled and committed expedition team, and many on whose support we have depended in the UK, South Africa, Germany, France, the United States and elsewhere.”

Photo: YouTube/PBS NewsHour

Sir Ernest Shackleton lost HMS Endurance in November 1915, after the ship was trapped by ice and later crushed by ice pack. Shackleton was leading the British Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which aimed to cross Antarctica via the South Pole. But their team never made it to the mainland.

However, Shackleton never lost anyone in his crew, for which he was praised. He already had a history of heroism as a war veteran and explorer, but keeping a whole crew of men alive in antarctic conditions was unbelievable.

The captain of HMS Endurance, Captain Frank Worsley, also left behind an excellent record of the 1914-16 expedition that became instrumental to the discovery of Endurance 3,008 meters deep in the Weddell Sea.

“We have made polar history with the discovery of Endurance, and successfully completed the world’s most challenging shipwreck search,” said Dr. John Shears, expedition leader.

Photo: YouTube/PBS NewsHour

Now, S.A. Agulhas II is sailing back to Cape Town after mapping the wreck. Under the Antarctic Treaty, Endurance is protected as a Historic Site and Monument, which ensures that it will not be disturbed in any way while being filmed and studied.

Bound also expresses a hope that this discovery will inspire younger generations with the pioneering spirit, bravery, and resilience of those people who had sailed HMS Endurance to the cold, unforgiving continent of Antarctica.

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