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.
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.
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.