A new quest to find Shackleton’s lost endurance ship


If found, no attempt will be made to raise the relic.

It is arguably the most famous shipwreck and its location has not yet been found.

The Endurance ship, lost in the unfortunate expedition of Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton in 1914-17, is at the bottom of the Weddell Sea.

Many people want to identify the resting place. I’ve even been to some. However, sea ice in this area makes navigation very difficult.

But Dr. John Sears and his colleagues are not afraid. Beaten in their last mission, they are back.

The team will take various submersibles this time after the vehicle type used in the previous quest is gone.

If the group succeeds in finding the endurance, they map it and take a picture, but they don’t get the artifact.

Shackleton’s ship is a historically important place and has been designated as a monument under the International Antarctic Treaty. Never get in the way.

“This ship has become an icon,” said Dr. Sears. “Shackleton’s epic survival story is timeless and touching, and among the shipwrecks there, it’s the most famous and hardest to find yet. is.

“If we can identify it, we will inspect it and use a laser to do a detailed 3D scan of it, and we want to broadcast all of this at that time,” he said. Told BBC News.

Shackleton map

Shackleton map

Have you ever heard of Ernest Shackleton and his extraordinary Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-1917?

The explorer Endurance, trapped in sea ice for more than 10 months, drifted in the Weddell Sea and eventually crushed by sea ice and fell into the deep sea. How Shackleton and his men escaped on foot or on a lifeboat became legendary.

It is well known where the endurance is reduced in 3,000 m of water. The ship’s captain, Frank Worsley, recorded the position using a sextant and theodolite. However, reaching this part of the Weddell Sea, just east of the Larsen Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula, is extremely difficult even for modern icebreakers.

Dr. Shears and colleagues operated and managed the Agulhas II, a South African-registered research vessel, in 2019. They deployed an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) at a presumed wreck, but 20 hours later, the submersible lost contact with the surface.

Cape Agulhas

Agulhas crew proved to be good at sea ice threading in 2019

The new mission is funded by the Folkland Maritime Heritage Trust. Approval from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth Office is required, but assuming this is happening soon, the Endurance 22 team hopes to be in Antarctica next February.

Dr. Sears is a leader of the expedition directed by marine archaeologist Mensanbound. Both have been fascinated by Shackleton’s ships for life.

They are confident in their crew and ice expertise, so they will use Agras again.

Last time, the submersible expert came from Ocean Infinity, a US and British company. The company is once again part of the team, but plans to use another underwater solution in the form of serve sable tooth.

These robots are built for the deep sea, can move for long periods of time, are autonomous or can be controlled by fiber optic tethers.

The big challenge comes from the infamous drift ice of the Weddell Sea, which has greatly confused Shackleton and has confused all attempts to find sunken ships to date.


Sabretooth robots can operate autonomously or be controlled by tethers

To get a chance of success, you really need a continuous feed of radar images acquired by satellites. Endurance22 gets the ice map again from the TerraSAR-X platform of the German space agency.

One of the big problems is about the likely condition of a wreck. The timber probably stands proudly on the ocean floor, as the depth of the water is too deep to allow the bulldozer to pass through the iceberg and the sedimentation rate in the area is thought to be low.

However, the bottom water passing through the wreck is almost certainly fully oxygenated. In other words, creatures that can withstand the cold may have eaten a significant portion of the wooden structures that have landed on the ocean floor.

“The truth is, I really don’t know what it will be like,” Dr. Sears told BBC News.

“We know that the boring mollusks of ships that usually devour wooden shipwrecks in the north cannot survive in the cold waters of Antarctica, but because you have a large source of carbon in wood. , We are interesting that we live in some very real shipwrecks. You may find that we have some new species. “

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