Searchers for Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship set sail on Endurance22 Expedition

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Searchers for Ernest Shackleton's lost ship set sail on Endurance22 Expedition

A South African icebreaker set off from Cape Town on Saturday in search of the world’s most elusive shipwreck: explorer Ernest Shackleton’s vessel Endurance.

The 144-foot wooden ship, which sank off the coast of Antarctica in 1915, has been lost ever since in the depths of what the Irish-born British explorer described as “the worst portion of the worst sea in the world.”

The Endurance22 Expedition, a project of the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust, aims to locate, survey and film the wreck of the iconic ship resting 3,000 meters below the surface of the Weddell Sea, Agence France-Presse reported.

“We very much hope we can do justice to this magnificent chapter in polar exploration,” said Mensun Bound, Endurance22’s director.

The 144-foot wooden ship sank off the coast of Antarctica in 1915.
The 144-foot wooden vessel sank off the coast of Antarctica in 1915.
AP Photo/Frank Hurley
Sir Ernest Shackleton's Nimrod expedition got to within ninety-seven miles of the South Pole before being forced to turn around
Ernest Shackleton’s Nimrod expedition (1907-1909) got to within 97 miles of the South Pole before being forced to turn around.
Irish explorer Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton and two members of his expedition team beside a Union Jack within 111 miles of the South Pole, a record feat.
Ernest Shackleton and two members of his expedition team beside a Union Jack within 111 miles of the South Pole, a record feat.
Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Shackleton had intended to make the first land crossing of Antarctica during his Imperial Trans-Antarctic expedition between 1914 and 1917.

Instead, his vessel was icebound for 10 months before it was splintered by the force of the floes. Shackleton and his crew made a miraculous escape on foot and by lifeboat that became legendary.

Bound hopes to pinpoint the lost ship with side-scan sonar and scrutinize it with underwater drones and 3D scanners. The team will leave Endurance’s remains untouched.

Ernest Shackleton had intended to make the first land crossing of Antarctica during his Imperial Trans-Antarctic expedition between 1914 and 1917.
Ernest Shackleton had intended to make the first land crossing of Antarctica during his Imperial Trans-Antarctic expedition between 1914 and 1917.
Photo by Frank Hurley/Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge/Getty Images
FILE: 100 Years Since Shackleton's Trans-Antarctic Expedition Began.  On 5th December 1914, explorer Ernest Shackleton left South Georgia with his ship HMS Endurance, heading  for Antarctica. His Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition is now seen as the last in the golden age of Antarctic exploration.   On board was photographer Frank Hurley who would document the epic journey. Within weeks the crew had run into trouble. Heavy pack ice surrounded the vessel, which stopped their progress and gradually began to crush the ship. Miraculously, they remained aboard for almost a year, but by the end of the following October, the damage from the ice  was so bad that they were forced to abandon ship.   Hurley was able to rescue 400 of his precious glass plate negatives from on board, but due to their weight, he could only carry 150 with him on the onward journey. Having selected the best, to make sure he would not be tempted back to collect anymore, he smashed the rest. Strenuous endeavours are made to free the 'Endurance' from the ice, 14th & 15th February 1915, but are ultimately unsuccessful; taken during the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-17, led by Ernest Shackleton.
In December 1914, explorer Ernest Shackleton left South Georgia with his ship, heading for Antarctica.
Frank Hurley/Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge/Getty Images

But the Weddell Sea’s swirling currents and masses of thick sea ice mean there’s no guarantee of success. A previous attempt to locate Endurance in 2019 failed to find the wreck.

“In terms of shipwreck challenges, it is the most difficult,” David Mearns, one of the world’s leading shipwreck hunters, told the outlet.

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