Sea History 179 - Summer 2022

Page 43

Endurance Found: Shackleton’s Legacy Endures ne hundred years after the death of Ernest Shackleton, the ship that he abandoned in the Antarctic was located by a team of maritime archaeologists and oceanographic technicians as part of an expedition organized by the Falkland Maritime Heritage Trust, led by Falkland Islands native and maritime archaeologist Mensun Bound and expedition leader John Shears. The discovery was made on 5 March of this year, following the work initially conducted by the 2019 Weddell Sea Expedition, during which the search for Endurance was not the main focus but rather an added mission, since the research vessel was going to be conducting marine science surveys in the same area where the Endurance sank in 1915. Endurance was purpose-built in 1912 for polar cruising, with her keel, frames, and planking made from stout oak and Norwegian fir. Her hull was sheathed with tough greenheart (Chlorocardium rodiei ) as a sacrificial layer to protect the hull from damage by ice. A 144-foot three-masted barquentine, Endurance could operate under both sail and power, as she was fitted with a 350-horsepower coal-fired steam engine, which could get the ship moving at speeds greater than ten knots.

royal geographical society


by Mark Antelme and Celicourt Communications

Searching for a lead of open water in the ice pack: When conditions allowed, the Endurance crew set all sail and fired up the engine to try to push through to open water, to no avail. Shackleton purchased the ship in January 1914 to serve as his expedition vessel for his upcoming Imperial TransAntarctic Expedition, during which he planned on crossing the Antarctic continent overland. The saga of the ill-fated expedition is one of the most famous in history, and the story and photos of the crew’s aban-

donment of their ship in the ice pack of the Weddell Sea and their remarkable feat to save themselves have been studied, exhibited, written about, and dramatized in documentaries and films. Photographer Frank Hurley’s presence of mind to photodocument their experience and make sure his glass-plate negatives survived the ordeal

falklands maritime heritage trust

Endurance’s hull is upright and remarkably intact. The ship’s wheel is still in place and the aft deck is now home to deep-sea marine life.



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