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Shackleton’s Ship Endurance Found

The Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust’s  Endurance22 Expedition has located the wreck of Endurance, Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship which has not been seen since it was crushed by the ice and sank in the Weddell Sea in 1915. 

The stern of the Endurance with the name and emblematic polestar. Image © Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust / National Geographic

Dr John Shears, Expedition Leader, said:

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

“In addition, we have undertaken important scientific research in a part of the world that directly affects the global climate and environment.  We have also conducted an unprecedented educational outreach programme, with live broadcasting from on board, allowing new generations from around the world to engage with Endurance22 and become inspired by the amazing stories of polar exploration, and what human beings can achieve and the obstacles they can overcome when they work together.  

“We will shortly begin our return leg to Cape Town, after an expedition which it has been my great privilege and honour to lead. The Expedition team, and the officers and crew of the S.A. Agulhas II, have been simply outstanding.  I would also like to say thank you to The Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust, and all of our partners, especially in South Africa, who have played a vital role in the success of the expedition.”

One hundred years after Shackleton’s death, Endurance was found at a depth of 3008 metres in the Weddell Sea, within the search area defined by the expedition team before its departure from Cape Town, and approximately four miles south of the position originally recorded by Captain Worsley. 

The team worked from the South African polar research and logistics vessel, S.A. Agulhas II, owned by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment and under Master, Capt. Knowledge Bengu, using Saab’s Sabertooth hybrid underwater search vehicles. The wreck is protected as a Historic Site and Monument under the Antarctic Treaty, ensuring that whilst the wreck is being surveyed and filmed it will not be touched or disturbed in any way.

Donald Lamont, Chairman of the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust, said:

“Our objectives for Endurance22 were to locate, survey and film the wreck, but also to conduct important scientific research, and to run an exceptional outreach programme.  Today’s celebrations are naturally tempered by world events, and everybody involved in Endurance22 keeps those affected by these continuing shocking events in their thoughts and prayers.

“The spotlight falls today on Mensun Bound, the Director of Exploration, and Nico Vincent, Subsea Project Manager. Under the outstanding leadership of Dr John Shears, they have found Endurance. But this success has been the result of impressive cooperation among many people, both on board the remarkable S.A. Agulhas II with its outstanding Master and crew, a skilled and committed expedition team and many on whose support we have depended in the UK, South Africa, Germany, France, the United States and elsewhere. The Trustees extend to them all our warmest thanks and congratulations on this historic achievement.”