More than a century after it sank, explorer Shackleton's ship found deep below Antarctic ice
LONDON (REUTERS) - The wreck of polar explorer Ernest Shackleton's ship the Endurance, which was crushed by Antarctic ice and sank some 3,000m to the ocean floor more than a century ago, has been found, a team searching for it said on Wednesday (March 9).
The three-masted sailing ship was lost in November 1915 during Shackleton's failed attempt to make the first land crossing of Antarctica.
Previous attempts to locate the 144-foot-long wooden wreck, whose location was logged by its captain Frank Worsley, had failed in the hostile conditions of the ice-covered Weddell Sea under which it lies.
But the Endurance22 mission, organised by the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust, using advanced underwater vehicles called Sabretooths fitted with high-definition cameras and scanners, tracked the vessel's remains down.
Footage showed the ship in a remarkably good condition, with its name clearly visible on the stern.
"We are overwhelmed...," said Mr Mensun Bound, the expedition's director of exploration.
"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."
This expedition, led by British polar explorer John Shears, operated from the South African ice-breaking ship Agulhas II. It is also researching the impact of climate change.
It found the "Endurance" 6km from the position recorded by Worsley.
Despite being stranded on the ice, the 28-man crew of the Endurance made it back home alive and theirs is considered one of the greatest survival stories of human history.
They trekked across the sea ice, living off seals and penguins, before setting sail in three lifeboats and reaching the uninhabited Elephant Island.
From there, Shackleton and a handful of the crew rowed some 1,300 km on the lifeboat James Caird to South Georgia, where they sought help from a whaling station.
On his fourth rescue attempt, Shackleton managed to return to pick up the rest of the crew from Elephant Island in August 2016, two years after his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition left London.