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Polar Expedition Endurance Ship Found in the Icy Waters of Antarctica after 107 Years

The discovery of Sir  Ernest Shackleton’s ship that sunk in the Weddell sea off Antarctica in 1915 is unbelievable. March 9, 2022, goes down in history as the most memorable day. The shipwreck is finally found and this puts end to a century-old quest.

Endurance had been sitting 10,000 ft below water for over a century and remains in absolutely brilliant condition. The awestriking discovery added a milestone to polar history.  Let’s read on the story of Endurance Ship.

About Endurance

Endurance was designed by Ole Aanderud Larsen and built at the Framnaes shipyard in Norway. It was completed on 17 December 1912. The master wood shipbuilder Christain Jacobsen holds the credit for making it the stronger wooden ship ever.

The three-masted, sail and coal-powered cruiser, was initially launched under the name of Polaris. It was built for amateur explorers and polar bear hunters. It provided 30 inches thick protection against icebergs. But then, the owners struggled with finances.

Ernest Shackelton brought the ship layer and named it Endurance. He took this name from his family’s Latin motto “Fortitudine vincimus” (By Endurance we conquer). It was engraved in a bronze letter just above the original Polaris star. Can you believe that the letters are still clearly visible in the shipwreck today?

Shackelton’s Voyage

Last voyage of Endurance

Shackleton and a crew of 27 sets on a voyage on Endurance for his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition to make the first-ever crossing of Antarctica. He called it “one great main object of Antarctic journeying.” However, the voyage turned into a nightmare when the ship was trapped in a pack-ice.

The greatest expedition turned into a nightmare and Endurance sank on November 21, 1915. Shackleton and his crew had to abandon the ship. This is considered one of the most miraculous survivals in the history of voyages.

Endurance Lost and Found

The discovery of this shipwreck is considered one of the most challenging shipwrecks search. The herculean task of finding the wrecks of the greatest wooden ship ever built was given to the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust.

The expedition cost more than $10 million and was largely paid by an anonymous donor. Historians and scientists embarked on the Edurance22 Expedition in February 2022. They continued their search for two weeks.

The shipwreck was finally found on Wednesday off the coast of Antarctica, approx 4 miles south of the position originally recorded by Captain Frank Worsley back in time. Do you know that the Weddell Sea is icier than the other Antarctic waters? An ice-breaker ‘Agulhas II’ was used in this expedition.

Frozen in time, yet preserved

The shipwreck remains well-preserved and polished even after a century-long quest. The engraved name “Endurance” is visible in the photographs taken on Wednesday after the search was completed.

Mensun Bound, a marine archaeologist who is a part of the Endurance22 discovery expedition says, “You can even see the ship’s name — E N D U R A N C E — arced across its stern directly below the taffrail. And beneath, as bold as brass, is Polaris, the five-pointed star, after which the ship was originally named.”

So how is it possible? How did the ship remain preserved in the icy waters of Antarctica? Shielded from parasites, the shipwreck appears in excellent condition. It appears that the shipwreck remains intact because the marine life was absent due to icy water. Otherwise, it could have fed on it.

The Polar biologist Michelle Taylor revealed that the ship will be studied using submersible cameras. He further said:

“It would appear that there is little wood deterioration, inferring that the wood-munching animals found in other areas of our ocean are, perhaps unsurprisingly, not in the forest-free Antarctic region. The Endurance, looking like a ghost ship, is sprinkled with an impressive diversity of deep-sea marine life—stalked sea squirts, anemones, sponges of various forms, brittlestars, and crinoids, all filter feeding nutrition from the cool deep waters of the Weddell Sea.”

Did you know this?

The American Journalist Alfred Lansing wrote the book Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage (1959) wherein he described the miraculous survival of Shackleton and his crew. This book became a bestseller.

Not just this, two Antarctic patrol ships of the British Royal Navy are also named Endurance in honour of this ship. Interestingly, the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance, a capsule built by NASA to transfer personnel to ISS was also named in honour of this ship.

Have a look at some of the tweets on this historical search:


Current status

The ice researchers on board have claimed that climate change could result in the deterioration of the shipwreck. The historical shipwreck is placed under the title of  Historic Site and Monument under the Antarctica Treaty. This ensured that no one can disturb or touched while filming or investigating Endurance.

The expedition leader Dr John Shears also conveyed that they conducted an educational outreach program to inspire young generations from across the globe to participate in this expedition. What do you think about this astonishing discovery of the long lost shipwreck?

I am Mallika Singh, a lawyer and writer by profession. Writing gives me a sense of freedom and independence. I am a keen observer and an ardent reader. When not at work, you can find me at the stable. Horse riding is another passion that keeps me going.


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