Amazing video footage has been released of Shackleton's ship Endurance, which has been found almost 10,000ft below the Weddell Sea


The incredible discovery of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance has made polar history. Scientists have discovered the 107-year-old wreck at the bottom of the Weddell Sea.

The discovery, announced this morning (March 9), was made at 1605 hrs GMT on 5 March – one hundred years after Shackleton’s death.

Endurance was found at a depth of 3,008 metres (9,868ft),  just four miles south of the position originally recorded by Captain Worsley.

The ship had not been seen since it was crushed by the ice and sank in 1915, forcing Shackleton and his men to make an incredible escape on foot and in small boats.

“We have found the wreck of Endurance!”

Director of Exploration Mensun Bound, said:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I don’t know how else to say this, so I am going to come straight to the point. We have found the wreck of the Endurance! And we found her 100 years to the day after Shackleton was buried on South Georgia.

“She is upright, well proud of the seabed and in an excellent state of preservation.  You can even see her paintwork and count the fastenings.

Shackleton's ship Endurance name on the stern

The name Endurance can clearly be seen on the stern. Photo Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust and National Geographic

“There is some damage to the fo’c’sle deck and part of her starboard side, but otherwise she is largely intact.

Most remarkable of all was her name – ENDURANCE– which arcs across her stern with perfect clarity.  And below is the 5-pointed Polaris star. Just as in Hurley’s famous photographs.”

Endurance brilliant state of preservation

Video of the remains show Endurance to be in remarkable condition.

Shackleton's ship Endurance shipwreck starboard bow

Starboard bow section of Endurance. Photo Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust and National Geographic

Most complex subsea project ever

Nico Vincent, Subsea Project Manager, said, “Endurance22 has reached its goal. We have made polar history with the discovery of Endurance, and successfully completed the world’s most challenging shipwreck search.

“This has been the most complex subsea project ever undertaken, with several world records achieved to ensure the safe detection of Endurance. State of the art subsea technologies have been deployed to achieve this successful outcome.”

Mensun Bound, Director of Exploration described the find as the finest wooden shipwreck he’d ever seen.

Shackleton's ship wreck Endurance at the bottom of the sea

Shackleton’s shipwreck Endurance. Photo: The Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust

He thanked colleagues at the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust for enabling the expedition to take place, as well as Saab for their technology, and the whole team of dedicated experts.

He also paid tribute to the navigational skills of Captain Frank Worsley, the Captain of the Endurance, whose detailed records were invaluable in the quest to locate the wreck.  

saab underwater search vehicle looking for Endurance

Frédéric Bassemayousse (r) and J.C. Caillens, Off-Shore Manager recover the AUV after a dive, in search for Sir Ernet Shackleton’s ship the Endurance. Photo: Esther Horvath

The team worked from the South African polar research and logistics vessel, S.A. Agulhas II, owned by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment.

This was captained by Master, Capt. Knowledge Bengu, using Saab’s Sabertooth hybrid underwater search vehicles. The state-of-the-art vehicles performed well, and were supported by a team from Saab onboard S A Agulhas II.

Endurance protected as a Historic Site and Monument

The wreck is protected as a Historic Site and Monument under the Antarctic Treaty, ensuring that whilst the wreck is being surveyed and filmed it will not be touched or disturbed in any way.

S A Agulhas endurance22 expedition

S A Agulhas was the search ship in the Shackleton discovery. Photos: Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust

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

“Our objectives for Endurance22 were to locate, survey and film the wreck, but also to conduct important scientific research, and to run an exceptional outreach programme. Today’s celebrations are naturally tempered by world events, and everybody involved in Endurance22 keeps those affected by these continuing shocking events in their thoughts and prayers.”

Shackleton’s Trans-Antarctic Expedition

Shackleton dump camp

Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship, Endurance, trapped in the ice during the 1914/15 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Photo: Alamy

Sir Ernest Shackleton attempted to achieve the first land crossing of Antarctica from the Weddell Sea via the South Pole to the Ross Sea. The Ross Sea Party, which was landed at Hut Point on Ross Island, supplied dumps for Shackleton’s crossing party, but at the cost of three lives lost.

Why Shackleton’s men abandoned ship

In the Weddell Sea, Endurance never reached land and became trapped in the dense pack ice. The 28 men on board had no choice but to abandon ship.

Shackleton ship Endurance trapped in ice

Shackleton ship Endurance trapped in ice. Photo: Alamy

After months spent in makeshift camps on drifting ice floes, the party took to the lifeboats to reach the inhospitable, uninhabited, Elephant Island.

Extraordinary 800-mile lifeboat voyage

Shackleton and five others then made an extraordinary 800-mile (1,300 km) open-boat journey in the lifeboat, James Caird, to reach South Georgia. Shackleton and two others then crossed the mountainous island to the whaling station at Stromness. From there, Shackleton was eventually able to mount a rescue of the men waiting on Elephant Island and bring them home without loss of life.

How Endurance22 helped climate research

The Endurance22 expedition wasn’t just to find Shackleton’s Endurance, but to collect scientific data.  Under the leadership of Dr Lasse Rabenstein, Endurance22’s Chief Scientist, a team of scientists successfully conducted hundreds of hours of climate change related studies.

They studied ice drifts, weather conditions of the Weddell Sea, studies of sea ice thickness, and were even able to map the sea ice from space. Combined, these important studies will materially help our understanding of this remote region and how it influences our changing climate.

An in-depth story about the finding of Endurance, including its historical relevance, is available on now.  

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