Ernest Shackleton's ship Endurance could be RAISED

Ernest Shackleton's ship Endurance could be RAISED

Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship Endurance could be RAISED from its resting place 10,000ft under the Antarctic sea more than 100 years after it vanished, expedition leader says

  • Endurance became stuck in ice and sank in Weddell Sea off Antarctica in 1915 
  • Has been lost ever since until it was found by an expedition team in February
  • Raising the ship has been considered, amid concerns it could eventually decay 

Sir Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship could be raised from under the sea in Antarctica, the expedition crew who found it has said.

Endurance became stuck in ice and sank in the Weddell Sea off the coast of Antarctica in 1915 and had been lost until it was located by a mission vessel which was launched in February, a month after the 100th anniversary of Sir Ernest’s death this year.

The Endurance22 Expedition director of exploration Mensun Bound has revealed he is planning to look more closely at the wreck, which lies 10,000 feet beneath the surface of the ocean. 

Raising the ship has also been considered, amid concerns it could eventually decay despite being preserved in the ice and cold water for so long.

Sir Ernest and his crew set out to achieve the first land crossing of Antarctica but Endurance did not reach land and became trapped in dense pack ice, forcing the 28 men on board to eventually abandon ship.

They were stuck in the ice for around 10 months, before escaping in lifeboats and on foot.

Sir Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship could be raised from under the sea, the expedition crew who found it has said 

Sir Ernest (pictured in 1909) and his crew set out to achieve the first land crossing of Antarctica but Endurance did not reach land and became trapped in dense pack ice 

ENDURANCE STATS 

Type: Three-masted schooner barque

Former name: Polaris*

Builder: Framnæs shipyards, Norway

Launched: December 17, 1912

Crew complement: 28

Length: 144 feet (44 metres)

Beam: 25 feet (7.6 metres)

Tonnage: 348 register tons

Propulsion: Steam and sail

Max. speed: 10.2 knots (11.7 mph)

Sank: Weddell Sea, November 21, 1915

Notable features: Strengthened hull and denser framework custom-designed for operation in polar waters

Asked at an event in central London if the ship will be raised, maritime archaeologist Mr Bound said: ‘There are a lot of contrasting views about that – we have a range of ideas on that one.

‘And we have to remember the Shackleton family, who very likely own the ship, they have fairly strong views of their own.

‘Bringing it up – we’ve got to think about conserving it and the process of that, which museum is going to take that, which could take forever and a day.

‘But if we leave it there, it’s organic, it’s going to decay some time beyond our lifetime.’

In March, the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust said Endurance was found at a depth of 3,008 metres and approximately four miles south of the position originally recorded by the ship’s captain Frank Worsley.

For the mission, the expedition team worked from the South African polar research and logistics vessel, S.A. Agulhas II.

Underwater search vehicles were used to locate, survey and film the wreck.

Mr Bound said Endurance is ‘by far the finest wooden shipwreck’ he had seen.

Talking about other future plans, he went on: ‘She’s the ultimate sealed box mystery, it’s an Aladdin’s cave.

‘It’s like the film Citizen Kane with all the antiques, everything is there in that box.

‘The technology’s there, we can have a look through some of the gaps.

‘[We’re] anxious in time to conduct a proper marine biological survey because she is this incredible oasis in a vast plain.’

Sir Ernest and his men were stuck in the ice for around 10 months, before escaping in lifeboats and on foot. Above: The ship is seen stuck in ice 

Endurance became stuck in ice in the Weddell Sea on the west coast of Antarctica on January 18, 1915

A pair of boots and a flare gun were among the items seen on the ship.

Television historian Dan Snow, who founded Netflix-style streaming platform History Hit, said the expedition, which he was a part of, was ‘lucky’ as they were able to navigate through the sea ice with ‘relative ease’.

He went on: ‘We had a brilliant search box that Mensun Bound worked out, looking at all the data from 1915, looking at where the ship probably sunk.

‘They were still doing readings with the sun to fix their position, latitude and longitude, and they made daily weather observations, things like that.

‘The plan was if we couldn’t near the box, to use helicopters to lift – which was a crazy plan – all the equipment required, build a camp on the ice, drill a massive hole in the ice and drop the drones like VHS tapes through the ice.

Photo issued by Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust of the stern of the wreck of Endurance

Endurance was one of two ships used by the Imperial Trans-Antarctic expedition of 1914–1917, which hoped to make the first land crossing of the Antarctic. Pictured: a photograph of the vessel stuck in pack ice taken in the October of 1915, a few weeks before she sank

Anglo-Irish sailor and explorer Frank Wild assessing the wreckage of the Endurance, after it was crushed by tightening pack ice

The ship was found approximately four miles south of the position originally recorded by Captain Worsley. Pictured is the the South African polar research and logistics vessel, S.A. Agulhas II

‘Bonkers idea, because the ice is ever-shifting, it’s moving erratically.’

The team instead deployed a drone off the back of the ship to move around the area.

Endurance was found to be leaning on its right with ice coming ‘up and over’ it which ‘bulldozed’ parts of the deck and accommodation area, although Sir Ernest’s cabin is still intact.

The ropes and mast have fallen down but are still attached and perhaps acted like a ‘parachute’ as the ship sank.

If the Endurance is raised, the operation would echo the lifting of the Tudor warship the Mary Rose in 1982. 

Henry VIII’s flagship was raised from the Solent in an operation that was watched by an estimated 60million people on television. 

More than 500 volunteer divers and many others on shore helped with the work.

The ship sank while on its way to battle against the French in 1545.

Henry VIII was watching when the vessel met its fate. It is believed she tipped over after being overburdened with men and equipment. 

Around 500 men lost their lives.

Sir Ernest Shackleton: Famed Anglo-Irish Antarctic adventurer

Sir Ernest Shackleton during the 1908 expedition to Antarctica

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton  was an Anglo-Irish Antarctic explorer who led three expeditions to the frozen continent. 

He was at the heart of a period in history that later came to be known as the ‘Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration’.

Born in Ireland, Shackleton moved to London with his family when he was 10 and first experienced polar climates as an officer on Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s Discovery expedition of 1901–1904.

He was sent home early from that expedition after work experiencing poor health that had been ascribed to scurvy. New studies suggest he had beriberi. 

During the Nimrod expedition of 1907–1909, Shackleton and his companions created a new recorded of farthest south latitude at 88 degrees south. 

Disaster struck his next expedition, the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914–1917, when the ship, the Endurance, became trapped in pack ice.

The crew were able to escape by launching lifeboats and reaching nearby islands, travelling through stormy oceans for 830 miles.

He returned to the Antarctic for one final time in 1921 with the Shackleton–Rowett Expedition, but died of a heart attack on January 5, 1922, while his ship was moored in South Georgia. 

While Shackleton is best known for his exploration, his legacy is also one of enabling a considerable amount of scientific research.

 His expeditions helped produce comprehensive scientific and geographical surveys — among which were the first surveys of Antarctica’s interior and the effective location of the Magnetic South Pole.

‘Shackleton is an iconic figure of Antarctic history with the most incredible legacy of courage and endeavour,’ noted the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust’s CEO, Camilla Nichol.

‘But we sometimes overlook the contribution his expeditions made to science.

‘To this day Antarctica is an essential barometer for climate change at the heart of climate science. 

‘We preserve Shackleton’s legacy to inspire the next generation of pioneering scientists and explorers.’

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