In 1915, Sir Ernest Shackleton and the 28 members of his crew were forced to abandon their ship after it was trapped within sheets of ice. After 100 years of searching, the ship, Endurance, was finally located Wednesday at the bottom of an Antarctic sea.
History of Endurance: In 1914 under the orders of Winston Churchill, Shackleton set out on the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition to be the first to cross Antarctica from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea, according to the project website, Endurance22.
- During the expedition, Endurance became stuck in a dense pack of ice. The crew was forced to abandon the ship.
- The crew made an 800-mile journey on lifeboats to Elephant Island where they survived until they were rescued and taken to Chile, states the project website.
How was the ship found? The project to find the ship — Endurance22 — was conducted by the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust.
- The project cost $10 million and was funded by an anonymous donor, reported The New York Times.
- The wreckage was located by a South African research vessel. The vessel used underwater submersibles that combed the seafloor to look for wreckage, according to Endurance22.
Where was the ship found?: The ship was located in the Weddell Sea, just 4 miles south of the last location Shackelton reported the ship was in, stated The New York Times.
- The Waddell Sea is located south of the country of South Georgia, and north of Antarctica.
Why is this discovery so important? “Endurance, a 144-foot, three-masted wooden ship holds a revered place in history because it spawned one of the greatest survival stories in the annals of exploration,” said The New York Times.
- The entire crew of the Endurance survived this journey, which was an accomplishment given the harsh and icy conditions of the Antarctic waters, according to the BBC.
- The other reason the discovery is important is because of the difficulty of locating the ship. The ship sank in the harshest part of one of the most frigid Antarctic seas. The Weddell Sea is almost always covered in thick ice, per the BBC.
- Even though the ship had been sitting under almost 3 miles of water for over 100 years, the remains were in great condition.
- “Without any exaggeration this is the finest wooden shipwreck I have ever seen — by far,” said Mensun Bound, a marine archaeologist and the expedition director, according to the BBC.