The wreck of Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance, the ship whose arrest in pack ice began one of humanity’s most extraordinary survival stories, has been discovered in unusually excellent shape, considering its ordeal. Now, 100 years after Shackleton’s death, the Endurance 2022 mission to discover the lost ship, which has been recording its journey online, has identified the ship and captured it in wonderfully precise images and film.
The Endurance, a ship constructed for cold weather as a vessel for Arctic tourist cruises, conducted a research mission to reach the Antarctic in 1914. Unfortunately, the ship was captured 100 kilometers (60 miles) off the Antarctic coast in 1915, during a harsh pack ice season, and was progressively crushed and sunk. Lifeboats were hauled onto the ice by the crew. The 27-man crew waited for the ice to break up before sailing and rowing to uninhabited Elephant Island after failed attempts to get the lifeboats to open sea.
Shackleton and five others traveled 1,300 kilometers to South Georgia in the finest of the lifeboats, where they received assistance in rescuing the rest. Every member of the expedition returned alive, which was a rare bit of good news given the fact that World War I was still raging when they returned. The conflict had indeed hampered the dispatch of a rescue effort. The epic narrative of survival has sparked curiosity in the Endurance that has lasted far longer than the ship itself, prompting efforts to locate the wreck. The Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust has announced that the ship has been located 3,000 meters (almost 10,000 feet) underneath the surface of the Weddell Sea.
The Endurance was difficult to locate not just because to the depth of the sea, but also because the ice that crushed it was moving and transported the ship a great way from where it was seized until it was abandoned. Calculating how much further the ice took the ship before it sunk was difficult, as was avoiding current sea ice, which led a previous effort to discover the wreck to be abandoned. In a statement, John Shears, the expedition’s commander, termed it “the world’s most demanding shipwreck search.” However, the ship was discovered barely 6 kilometers (4 miles) from the point where salvaging was no longer viable.
The big ship has fared better in the depths of the Southern Ocean than it did in the ice that smashed it. “By far the most beautiful wooden wreckage I’ve ever seen.” Mensun Bound, the Endurance 22 expedition’s Director of Exploration, remarked, “It stands erect, well proud of the seabed, entire, and in a spectacular condition of preservation.” “The word “Endurance” is arced over the stern.” The expedition aired live from the South African polar research vessel S.A.Agulhas II and the Sabertooth underwater search vehicles in an effort to teach people about one of humanity’s great survival stories and stimulate interest in exploration.
“We’ve also done vital scientific study in a section of the globe that has a direct impact on global climate and environment,” Shears noted. If the depth of water isn’t enough of a deterrent, the location is designated as a historic monument under the Antarctic Treaty and cannot be damaged.