The wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance has finally been found off the coast of Antarctica 107 years after it sank.
The Anglo-Irish explorer’s missing ship has not been seen since it was crushed by ice and sunk in the Weddell Sea on November 21, 1915.
Last month, the Endurance22 Expedition set sail from Cape Town in South Africa on a mission to find the ship – a month after the 100th anniversary of Sir Ernest’s death.
And Endurance was finally discovered on Saturday at a depth of 3,008 meters and about four miles south of the position recorded by the ship’s captain Frank Worsley, according to the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust.
Although the wreck had been in the water for more than a century, the expedition’s director of exploration said the Endurance was “the best wooden shipwreck to date” he had ever seen.
Mensun Bound, who has now fulfilled the dream of his nearly 50-year career, said: “We were truly overwhelmed by our luck in locating and capturing Endurance’s images.
“This is the best wooden shipwreck I’ve seen so far.
“It’s upright, very proud of the seabed, intact and in excellent condition. You can even see ‘Strength’ mounted on the stern, just below the taffrail plate.
“This is an important milestone in polar history.”
The ship is said to look exactly as it did when it was last photographed by Shackleton filmmaker Frank Hurley in 1915.
The masts are down and the anchors are visible – but the rig is tangled and has some damage to the bow, likely from the time the ship sank to the seabed.
The expedition team even tracked down some boots and crockery on board.
Mr Bound said to BBC: “Besides the companion passage, you can see a window that is Shackleton’s cabin.
“At that moment, you really felt the great man’s breath on the back of your neck.
“We found the wreck a hundred years ago until the day after Shackleton’s funeral. I don’t usually bring these with me at all, but this one I found a bit spooky.”
Dr John Shears, the expedition leader, described the moment the camera landed on the ship as “astonishing”.
“The discovery of the wreck is an amazing achievement,” he said.
“We’ve successfully completed the world’s hardest shipwreck search, weathering constant shifting sea ice, blizzards and temperatures dropping to -18C.
“We have achieved what many have said was impossible.”
“In addition, we’ve done significant scientific research in one region of the world that has a direct impact on the global climate and environment,” he added.
Sir Ernest set out to make the first sea crossing to the South Pole – but he had to abandon the mission when Endurance was trapped and hidden by sea ice.
Miraculously, the brave explorer brought his men to safety on foot and in small lifeboats.
The search for the lost ship was initiated by the Falklands Maritime Heritage Foundation using the South African icebreaker, Agulhas II – equipped with remotely operated submersibles.
The shipwreck is a designated monument under the International Antarctic Treaty and must not be tampered with in any way.
And the ghost ship has been taken over by an “impressive diversity of deep-sea life on the seabed”.
Deep-sea polar biologist Dr Michelle Taylor from the University of Essex said: “It appears that there is very little loss of wood, inferring that the animals that cut the wood are found in other parts of the ocean. Our oceans, perhaps unsurprisingly, are not without forest lands in Antarctica.
“The Endurance, which looks like a ghost ship, is dotted with an impressive diversity of deep-sea life – stalked sea squirts, sea anemones, sponges in various forms, crustaceans and species. crinoids (related to urchins and starfish), all of which feed on nutrients from the cool deep waters of the Weddell Sea.”
Agulhas II completed his survey of the historic wreckage and left the search site on Tuesday.
The icebreaker is currently on its way back to Cape Town – but the group plans to stop at the British Overseas Territory in South Georgia, where Shackleton is buried to pay his respects.
https://www.thesun.ie/tech/8477326/ernest-shackleton-lost-ship-endurance-finally-found-antarctica/ Ernest Shackleton’s Lost Ship Endurance is Finally FINDED in Antarctica, ending a 107-year-old astonishing mystery