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09th Mar 2022

Endurance: Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship found frozen in time after sinking off Antartica 107 years ago

Charlie Herbert

Endurance discovered 107 years after she sank

It has been labelled the ‘finest wooden shipwreck ever seen’

Endurance, the lost ship belonging to legendary explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, has been found in the Antarctic in one of the greatest shipwreck discoveries ever.

The ship sank in 1915 when it was crushed by sea ice during one of Shackleton’s expeditions to the Antarctic, forcing him and his crew to make a miraculous escape on foot and in small boats.

The team leading the search for the wreck has finally located it at the bottom of the Weddell Sea, more than 3km deep.

Despite sitting on the ocean floor for 107 years, film footage of the discovery shows The Endurance in a remarkable condition, with its wooden timbers and hull still intact and its name clearly visible.

The project to find Endurance has been led by the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust, and the mission’s leader, Dr John Shears, said they had made “polar history.”

“Endurance22 has reached its goal. We have made polar history with the discovery of Endurance, and successfully completed the world’s most challenging shipwreck search,” he said.

In a press release, Mensun Bound, Director of Exploration on the expedition, said: We are overwhelmed by our good fortune in having located and captured images of Endurance.

“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, directly below the taffrail.  This is a milestone in polar history.”

Endurance can be seen in the background here in 1915, trapped in the ice. An expedition member can be seen in the foreground leading out a dog sled team on a foraging mission (Underwood Archives/Getty)Endurance was slowly crushed by the ice, until this was all that was left on the surface (Frank Hurley/Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge/Getty)

The wreck site was discovered on March 5, on the 100th anniversary of Shackleton’s funeral.

Under the international Antarctic Treaty, the wreck is a designated monument and therefore must not be disturbed in any way. Because of this, no physical artefacts have been brought to the surface.

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