Searched By Researchers
Well, it was on March 5, 2022, researchers discovered Endurance, rather the wrecked remains of the three-masted barquentine, in which Anglo-Irish Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton (February 15, 1874 – January 5, 1922) had sailed for the Antarctic as part of the 1914-17 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Apart from Sir Ernest, a crew of 27 men and one cat were onboard the ship. Mensun Bound, the Director of Exploration, has confirmed the news, saying that they found the ship at a depth of 3,008mt (or 9,869ft) in the Weddell Sea, about 6km from where it was slowly crushed by pack ice way back in 1915. Incidentally, the wreck has been discovered 107 years after it sank, and on the 100th anniversary of Sir Ernest’s funeral.
Bound has admitted that they indeed are lucky to locate the wreck, and to capture images of Endurance. He has issued a statement, stressing: “This is by far the finest wooden shipwreck I have ever seen. 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.” According to Bound, the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust organised the expedition, as researchers left Cape Town on February 5 with a South African icebreaker. They planned to discover the Endurance before the end of the summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
As per the original plan of Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, the ill-fated ship was meant to make the first land crossing of Antarctica. However, the vessel had fallen victim to the tumultuous Weddell Sea. Endurance had become ensnared in sea-ice for more than 10 months before being crushed just east of the Larsen ice shelves on the Antarctic peninsula. It is regarded as one of the historic voyages, as Sir Ernest and other crew members had made miraculous escapes on foot and in boats. They managed to escape by camping on the sea ice until it ruptured. Later, they launched lifeboats to Elephant Island and then South Georgia Island, which lies around 1,400km east of the Falkland Islands. All of the crew had managed to survive. Later, Sir Ernest was heard describing the site of the accident as “the worst portion of the worst sea in the world“.
Meanwhile, Bound has revealed that the explorers used underwater drones to discover and film the shipwreck in the Weddell Sea. According to the Exploration Director, the swirling current of Weddell Sea sustains a mass of thick sea ice, challenging even modern ice breakers. Hence, it is one of the most difficult parts of the ocean to navigate. “This has been the most complex subsea project ever undertaken,” stressed Nico Vincent, the Subsea Project Manager of the mission.
Vincent has claimed that the underwater drones clicked stunningly clear images of the 144ft-long ship. Surprisingly, the helm of the vessel has still remained intact after more than a century underwater, with gear piled against the taffrail as if its crew just left the Endurance. Although wooden timbers of the ship were damaged by the ice, the wreckage is in fine condition. South Africa’s Agulhas II icebreaker has successfully lifted the Endurance over the frozen sea by a crane. As per International Law, the wreck would be protected as a historic site, as people would be allowed to film and scan the ship, but not to touch it.
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