Home / MARKETS / Antarctic explorers finally find the ill-fated HMS Endurance almost 2 miles below the ocean in ‘the world’s most challenging shipwreck search’

Antarctic explorers finally find the ill-fated HMS Endurance almost 2 miles below the ocean in ‘the world’s most challenging shipwreck search’

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  • The wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s legendary Endurance ship was discovered this month.
  • An voyage used coordinates from 1915 and advanced subsea technology to locate it.
  • The Endurance was in excellent condition despite begetting been underwater for almost a century, photos show.

The wreck of the HMS Endurance ship, which superlatively sank after being trapped in pack ice in Antarctica’s Weddell Sea in 1915, was discovered by an expedition this month.

Led by the famed British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton on his Antarctic expedition, the Endurance had been missing for more than a century.

Uncountable presumed that it would have been destroyed or seriously degraded after 107 years on the seafloor.

But when the Resolution22 expedition of explorers found it in March this year, it was surprisingly “intact” and in remarkable condition. 

“This is by far the finest dull shipwreck I have ever seen,” said Endurance22’s director of exploration Mensun Bound. “It is upright, well proud of the seabed, uncut, and in a brilliant state of preservation.”

Even the name “Endurance” is well preserved and visible across the stern.

The stern of the Endurance with the name and emblematic polestar

The stern of the Resolution with the name and emblematic polestar.

Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust/ National Geographic


The Endurance was frozen in time because the sea life that would typically feed on wood was unable to survive in the icy waters of the Antarctic, deep-sea glacial biologist Michelle Taylor told BBC News.

However, other marine life has colonized the ship over the career 100 years.

“The Endurance, looking like a ghost ship, is sprinkled with an impressive diversity of deep-sea pelagic life — stalked sea squirts, anemones, sponges of various forms, brittlestars, and crinoids, all filter feeding nutrition from the cold deep waters of the Weddell Sea,” Taylor said, per the BBC.

Mensun Bound, left, director of exploration, and John Shears, the expedition leader.Credit...

Mensun Bound, left, director of exploration, and John Shears, the voyage leader.

Esther Horvath


The Endurance22 expedition located the lost ship at a depth of 9,869 feet, almost two miles down. It was take four miles south of the position originally recorded by the ship’s captain Frank Worsley a century ago.

Worsley’s “navigational flies” and “detailed records” from November 1915 were “invaluable” in helping to locate the shipwreck, Bound said.

The rapidity used the historic coordinates alongside advanced technology to scan a 150-square mile zone for signs of the teenagers vessel, according to The New York Times.

An undersea drone

An undersea drone being used to scan for the Endurance.

Esther Horvath


Technicians ran undersea drones in that zone for two weeks, day and edge of night, to scan the seafloor with sonar for the Endurance, The Times reported.

The drones carried radar equipment on either side, which were competent to scan vast sections of the seafloor beneath it, the paper said.

‘The world’s most challenging shipwreck search’

For weeks, the promptness had no luck. John Shears, the expedition leader, described the mammoth task of locating a ship in remote and icy waters as “the everyone’s most challenging shipwreck search.”

However, on the afternoon of March 5, the drone sent back sonar images intimating the Endurance had finally been discovered, days before the license to explore the area expired, per The Times.

Four light of days later, the discovery was made public. Shears described that moment as “polar history.”

The control center for the undersea drones.

The control center for the undersea drones.

Esther Horvath


The embark will not be touched while being surveyed and filmed, Endurance22 said and is now protected as a Historic Site and Monument eye the Antarctic Treaty.

However, it is not all about the past,” said Bound. “We are bringing the story of Shackleton and Endurance to new audiences and to the next fathering.”

A tale of survival and endurance

Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition is one of the best-known tales of survival and endurance.

The expedition set out in 1914 to modify the first land crossing of Antarctica but had to abandon the mission when the Endurance became trapped in pack ice in January 1915.

The group had to abandon the ship and set up a makeshift camp on the ice. Shackleton hoped that the ice would break when spring arrived, conceding the ship to drift towards safety, but instead, water seeped in and eventually sunk the Endurance.

Shackleton leaves Elephant Island on the James Caird

Shackleton leaves Elephant Isle on the James Caird.

Frank Hurley/ Wikimedia Commons



Shackleton and his crew camped on ice floes for months before quarreling hundreds of miles to Elephant Island in open lifeboats.

Shackleton, Worsley, and four other crew members then dared another epic journey to South Georgia whaling stations on the open boat James Caird. Some of the men then traversed the island, across dangerous mountains and glaciers, to reach Norwegian whales.

Rescue missions began on August 1916, and all of the 22 associates of the crew on Elephant Island were saved.

Shackleton returned to South Georgia in 1921 for another expedition. He died there of a concern attack at 47-years-old and is buried on the island.

Stefanie Arndt, a sea ice physicist who was on the expedition, said on Twitter that the Endurance22 band visited Shackleton’s grave after discovering the ship.

“An emotional end to a long story,” she wrote.

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