Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance ship – Lost 1915 – Found 10,000 feet below ocean surface in Antarctica


The Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust is pleased to confirm that the Endurance22 Expedition has located the wreck of the EnduranceSir Ernest Shackleton’s ship which has not been seen since it was crushed by ice and sank in the Weddell Sea in 1915.

One hundred years after Shackleton’s death, Endurance was found at a depth of 3,008 meters (9,869 ft) in the Weddell Sea, within the search area defined by the expedition team before it left Cape Town, and about four miles south of the original position. recorded by Captain Worsley.

The team worked from the South African Polar Research and Logistics Vessel, SA Needles II, owned by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment and under the direction of the captain, Captain Knowledge Bengu, using Saab’s Sabertooth hybrid underwater research vehicles. The wreck is protected as a Historic Site and Monument under the Antarctic Treaty, ensuring that while the wreck is being studied and filmed, it will not be touched or disturbed in any way.

Wreck of Ernest Shackleton's Endurance

Taffrail and rudder, shaft aft deck. Credit: © Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust / National Geographic

Donald Lamont, Chairman of the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust, said:

“Our goals for Endurance22 were to locate, survey and film the wreckage, but also to conduct important scientific research and conduct an outstanding outreach program. Today’s celebrations are understandably tempered by world events, and everyone involved with Endurance22 keeps those affected by these continued shocking events in their thoughts and prayers.

“The spotlight falls today on Mensun Bound, the director of exploration, and Nico Vincent, underwater project manager. Under the exceptional leadership of Dr. John Shears, they found Endurance. But this success was the result of an impressive cooperation between many people, both on board the remarkable SA Agulhas II with its exceptional captain and crew, a qualified and committed expedition team and many people from whom we have depended in UK, South Africa, Germany, France, USA and elsewhere. The directors send them our warmest thanks and congratulations for this historic achievement.

Mensun Bound, exploration director of the expedition, said:

“We are overwhelmed by our luck in having located and captured footage of Endurance. It is by far the most beautiful wooden wreck I have ever seen. It is upright, proud of the seabed, intact and in a brilliant state of preservation. You can even see “Endurance” arched through the stern, directly under the taffrail. This is a milestone in polar history. However, it is not just about the past; we bring the story of Shackleton and Endurance to new audiences, and the next generation, who will be entrusted with the essential safeguarding of our polar regions and our planet.We hope that our discovery will engage young people and inspire them with the pioneering spirit , courage and fortitude of those who sailed the Endurance to Antarctica We pay tribute to the navigational skills of Captain Frank Worsley, the captain of the Endurance, whose detailed records were invaluable in our quest for local be the wreckage. I would like to thank my colleagues at the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust for enabling this extraordinary expedition to take place, as well as Saab for their technology, and the entire team of dedicated experts who were involved in this monumental discovery.

Ernest Shackleton's Endurance Wreck

The stern of the Endurance with the name and the emblematic pole star. Credit: © Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust / National Geographic

Dr John Shears, Expedition Leader, said:

“The Endurance22 expedition has achieved its goal. We made polar history with the discovery of the Endurance and carried out the most difficult search for wrecks in the world. In addition, we have undertaken important scientific research in a part of the world that directly affects the global climate and environment. We also conducted an unprecedented educational outreach program, with live streaming on board, allowing new generations around the world to engage with Endurance22 and be inspired by the incredible stories of polar exploration, what human beings can achieve and obstacles they can overcome. when they work together. We will soon begin our return leg to Cape Town, after an expedition that I had the great privilege and honor of leading. The expedition team and the officers and crew of SA Agulhas II were nothing short of outstanding. I would also like to thank the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust and all our partners, especially in South Africa, who played a vital role in the success of the expedition.

Ernest Shackleton Endurance Shipwreck Weddell Sea

Front starboard. Credit: © Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust / National Geographic

Nico Vincent, Submarine Project Manager, said:

“This is the most complex underwater project ever undertaken, with several world records achieved to ensure the safe detection of Endurance. State-of-the-art underwater technologies were deployed to achieve this successful outcome and I would especially like to thank the underwater team for all the technical support, both on board the vessel and throughout the months of planning, design and test. All have shown immense commitment and resilience, worthy of the finest tradition of polar exploration. Saab supplied the Sabertooth, so I also want to thank them, including their team of aces on board the SA Agulhas II, and those who ensured the vehicles performed as well as they did.

South African Polar Research and Logistics Vessel

The Endurance 22 expedition was carried out from the South African polar research and logistics vessel, SA Agulhas II. Credit: Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust

The Imperial Transantarctic Expedition

It was Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ambition to make the first land crossing of Antarctica from the Weddell Sea via the South Pole to the Ross Sea. The Ross Sea Party which landed at Hut Point on Ross Island had the task of laying supply dumps for Shackleton’s crossing party and achieved their objective, but at the cost of three lost lives. In the Weddell Sea, Endurance never reached land and became trapped in the dense pack ice and the 28 men on board ultimately had no choice but to abandon ship. After months in makeshift camps on the north-drift pack ice, the group took the lifeboats to reach the inhospitable and uninhabited Elephant Island. Shackleton and five others then made an extraordinary 800-mile (1,300 km) open-boat voyage in the lifeboat, James Caird, to reach South Georgia. Shackleton and two others then crossed the mountainous island to the whaling station of Stromness. From there, Shackleton was eventually able to organize a rescue of the men waiting on Elephant Island and bring them home with no loss of life.

Hurley Endurance

One of Frank Hurley’s photographs of the Endurance hit trapped in pack ice. Credit: Frank Hurley/Wikimedia Commons

Scientific Research

Under the leadership of Endurance22 Chief Scientist Dr. Lasse Rabenstein, a team of world-renowned scientists from research and educational institutions successfully conducted hundreds of hours of climate change-related studies during the shipping time. Representatives from the South African Meteorological Service, the German company Drift & Noise, the German Alfred-Wegener Institute, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Aalto University in Finland and the South African University of Stellenbosch have studied ice drift, Weddell Sea weather, studies of sea ice thickness, and have been able to map sea ice from space. Combined, these important studies will materially help us understand this remote region and how it influences our climate change.

Endurance22 Education Program

From the conception of the expedition, educational outreach was a key objective. FMHT has partnered with Reach the World, the US-based educational organization, and the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) who have managed to connect with tens of thousands of children throughout shipping via regular live interviews and materials produced for classroom use.

Expedition coverage and exclusive documentary

History Hit, the content platform co-founded by historian Dan Snow, award-winning digital content agency and media network Little Dot Studios, and impact-focused production company, Consequential, have produced a range of content spanning setting up the expedition, the voyage and research, and now the discovery itself, as well as history, science and other themes related to the larger mission. Shortcut content continues to be distributed to millions of subscribers, including breaking content on TikTok. The team also filmed a long-form observational documentary chronicling the expedition which was commissioned by National Geographic to be broadcast later this year.

Scheduled to premiere this fall 2022 as part of National Geographic’s EXPLORER series, this documentary event will stream globally on National Geographic in 172 countries and 43 languages ​​before heading to Disney+. Exclusive Endurance stories will be featured on National Geographic’s digital and social platforms, including National Geographic magazine and the award-winning Overheard at National Geographic podcast. A detailed story about the discovery of Endurance, including its historical relevance, is now available at

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