Shackleton’s legendary ship “Endurance” finally found off the Antarctic Coast
One of history’s greatest undiscovered shipwrecks has finally been found! After more than a century, the legendary ship “Endurance” is discovered beneath the sea ice, at the bottom of the Weddell Sea, at nearly two miles deep. Under water images of the wreck show that it’s in remarkable condition, almost as if it sank yesterday. The cold temperatures, absence of light and low oxygen in the Antarctic waters have preserved the wreck for 107 years.
The ship is sitting upright on the ocean floor and you can clearly see the wooden deck with ropes, tools, portholes and railings. Even the brass letters spelling out “Endurance” on the stern of the ship still seem as shiny as they were in 1915. Marine archaeologists claim it is the finest wooden shipwreck the have ever seen, by far.
Polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance expedition is regarded as one of polar history’s greatest stories of survival and heroism. Knowing the dangers and hardships that he and his man had to endure in Antarctica and South Georgia makes the name of the ship seem very approprate.
Ernest Shackleton’s expedition to Antarctica set off in December 1914. Their goal was to cross the continent over land, but they never even reached the coast. In January 1915, Shackleton’s ship Endurance got trapped in the sea ice. For months they were at the mercy of the ice, having to survive the harsh conditions of Antarctic winter on the floe. Eventually, the ship was crushed by the immense powers of the ice and sank off the coast of Antarctica, in the Weddell Sea, in November 1915. Its crew stranded on the ice and having to overcome a seemingly endless journey to safety. In April 1916 they finally set foot on land at Elephant Island. From there, Shackleton and 5 others set off in one of their small life boats named James Caird and head for South Georgia.
Shackleton and his men finally came ashore at King Haakon Bay, South Georgia in May 1916. It soon became clear to them that the whaling stations, their chance to be rescued, were on the other side of the island. This meant they had to cross a mountain range and glaciers, something that had never been done before. Shackleton and two of the men hiked for 36 hours to overcome the 32 miles (51 km) of treacherous terrain before reaching the whaling station at Stromness Bay. An incredible accomplishment knowing how weakened and exhausted they were after months of survival.
In the footsteps of Ernest Shackleton
During an expedition cruise to Antarctica and South Georgia you can follow in Shackleton’s footsteps. Our Waterproof Singature Expedition to Antarctica & South Georgia in January 2024 will take you on a voyage through history. We will retrace part of the route by ship, walk some of his legendary crossing of South Georgia and visit the Stromness whaling station where he and his men found rescue. One of the sites that can’t be skipped is Grytviken. The place where the legendary Endurance expedition started is also his last resting ground. Here you can visit the grave of Sir Ernest Shackleton, one of the greatest polar expedition leaders who ever lived.
Header image of Endurance ship wreck by Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust