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Shipwreck Of Ernest Shakleton’s Endurance Found At The Bottom Of The Antarctic After 107 Years

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Kay Smythe Reporter
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Sir Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship, Endurance, was discovered at the bottom of the Antarctic Ocean Wednesday.

The enormous vessel was lost to the frozen ocean floor of the Weddell Sea 107 years ago after sinking in 1915, according to the BBC. The ship was crushed by sea ice as Shackleton and his crew made a miraculous escape, but appears to remain in near perfect condition.

Despite sitting at a depth of nearly 3 km (10,000 ft), the stern, timbers and a majority of the ship looks the same as the cold November day it sank beneath the ice, the BBC continued. (RELATED: Doug Scott, One Of The First Explorers To Climb Everest, Dead At 79)

“Without any exaggeration this is the finest wooden shipwreck I have ever seen — by far,” marine archaeologist Mensun Bound of the discovery expedition told the BBC after searching for the ship for nearly half a century. “It is upright, well proud of the seabed, intact, and in a brilliant state of preservation.”

Shackleton, an Irish-British explorer, had a longtime obsession with the South Pole, setting sail on four separate expeditions toward the “White Continent,” reported CNN. Endurance left the United Kingdom in 1914, reaching Antarctica’s McMurdo Sound in 1915 on her final journey, which came to be known as the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Extreme conditions halted the ship’s journey, and the 28 crewmembers, including Shackleton, abandoned the vessel.

The crew made camp on the ice floes, eventually making it to Elephant Island, living off seals and penguins before escaping in lifeboats to a Norwegian whaling station on the island of South Georgia, Aljazeera reported. The entire crew of Endurance survived, but Shackleton died in a 1947 expedition on South Georgia, where he is buried, CNN reported.

Endurance was discovered roughly four miles from where her Captain Frank Worsley of New Zealand believed it to be, according to CNN. Scientists, historians and filmmakers aboard the discovery mission, named Endurance22, used Sabertooth hybrid underwater vehicles in the search.

Per the Antarctic Treaty guidelines, Endurance will not be moved or taken apart, but will be studied, mapped, and photographed in place, the outlet noted.

 

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Video posted by British historian and documentary filmmaker Dan Snow shows the remarkably preserved ship. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would get images of this clarity. A triumph for the team aboard,” he wrote.

Snow told Sky News how the Endurance22 team was “working around the clock for a month in some of the most hideous conditions on planet Earth. It was -35 degrees [Celsius] of wind chill. They were working through the night, all day, they were fixing these unmanned vehicles… all I had to do was post the odd picture on Instagram. So, I had the easiest job on the ship, let me tell you.”

He went on to say that discovering the ship was like a “miracle,” and that, because the water is so cold, there are no “wood-eating microorganisms” in the Antarctic, so the “ship is almost perfectly preserved.” Snow noted that Shackleton was so depressed at the loss of his ship that he could barely bring himself to write about it in his diary the day it went down.