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Ernest Shackleton’s ship discovered off Antarctica

The wreckage of the Endurance in the Weddell Sea Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust/National Georgraphic via AP

Ernest Shackleton’s ship discovered off Antarctica

A team of scientists and engineers off the coast of Antarctica announced Wednesday they had discovered the sunken remains of one of the most famous ships in the history of maritime exploration — the Endurance. The team found the wooden ship, used by Ernest Shackleton in his 1914-1916 expedition to the South Pole, at the bottom of the Weddell Sea beneath 10,000 feet of icy water. The three-masted ship remains well-preserved due to the environment’s absence of bacteria and wood-eating worms. The Endurance’s wooden helm is intact, as are the gold-leafed letters affixed to the stern that spell out the vessel’s name. The ship is protected as a historic monument under a six-decade-old Antarctic treaty, but the explorers plan to use laser scans to create a detailed 3D model of the shipwreck.

How did the Endurance sink? in August 1914, Ernest Shackleton led a team of 27 men on an expedition to cross Antarctica and the South Pole. But before reaching land, the Endurance became stuck in pack ice, eventually forcing the sailors to disembark as the ship slowly sank. Shackleton’s crew camped on ice floes for several months and eventually reached Elephant Island, where they waited while the captain and five crew members set off in a lifeboat in search of rescue. The entire crew ultimately survived.

Dig Deeper: Read Michael Cochrane’s report on Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s recovery of the ship’s bell from the HMS Hood, a British battlecruiser sunk in 1941.

Daniel James Devine

Daniel is editor of WORLD Magazine. He is a World Journalism Institute graduate and a former science and technology reporter. Daniel resides in Indiana.


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