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Ernest Shackleton's Endurance ship found in the icy waters of Antarctica after 107 years

The ship set sail in 1914 and following a year-long journey, it got stuck in ice in the Weddell Sea.

Ernest Shackleton's Endurance ship found in the icy waters of Antarctica after 107 years
Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust / National Geographic

Polar explorer Ernest Shackleton's ship HMS Endurance, which sank in 1915 in Antarctica, has been found after 107 years. The ship was discovered 9,842 feet deep in the icy waters of the Weddell Sea, a pocket in the Southern Ocean along the northern coast of Antarctica, south of the Falkland Islands. The ship was in good condition and intact, surprising experts. While the ship marks an important expedition to Antarctica, it was the survival story of the crew after its sinking that etched the story into Polar exploration legend. The discovery was the result of a collaboration between the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust and History Hit, the content platform co-founded by historian Dan Snow. "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," said Mensun Bound, the mission's director of exploration, in a statement, reported CNN. "This is a milestone in polar history."

Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust / National Geographic



Endurance was a 144-foot, three-masted wooden ship and was led by Polar explorer Ernest Shackleton, an Irish-British explorer, who was obsessed with the South Pole. He organized a total of four expeditions to Antarctica with the. Endurance left the UK in 1914, in what was dubbed the "Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition," and reached Antarctica's McMurdo Sound after a year. Endurance got stuck amid impenetrable ice in the Weddell Sea, forcing Ernest Shackleton to abandon the ship. Shackleton along with the 28 men on board, set up rudimentary camp facilities onboard ice floes that were floating northward.


They made it to the uninhabited Elephant Island. From there some volunteers, including Shackleton, got in a lifeboat and made an 800-mile journey through treacherous waters towards South Georgia Island, before crossing it on foot and reaching Stromness whaling station. They then organized an operation to rescue the crew left behind on Elephant Island. While the expedition in itself was a failure, the team's survival under such punishing conditions and their rescue hailed in the UK and was attributed to the leadership skills of Shackleton. The Polar explorer passed away from a heart attack on South Georgia Island in 1922 at the age of 47. He was buried there as per the wish of his wife.

Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust / National Geographic


Endurance that was abandoned after getting stuck in the ice would eventually sink and remained there until it was found by the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust. The team managed to locate the ship using the navigational record of Captain Frank Worsley, a New Zealander who helmed the ship. The ship was found 4 miles from where Captain Worsley noted it would be. The mission to find the ship was called Endurance22. The team included scientists, historians, and filmmakers. The footage shot will feature as part of an upcoming National Geographic documentary. 


Endurance22 employed underwater search vessels to help find the wreck. As pictures released by the team show, the name of the ship etched on the ship can still be seen clearly. "We are overwhelmed by our good fortune in having located and captured images of Endurance," said Bound. As per the Antarctic Treaty, signed by 12 countries in 1959, Endurance will not be moved or taken apart and will only be studied, mapped, and photographed at the same location.


Dr. John Shears, the expedition leader, said, "We have also conducted an unprecedented educational outreach program, with live broadcasting from onboard, 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."

ANTARCTICA - 1916: Members of an expedition team led by Irish explorer Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton pull one of their lifeboats across the snow in the Antarctic, following the loss of the 'Endurance'. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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