The legendary ship Endurance, captained by Ernest Shackleton, was crushed in sea ice during the bleak winter of 1915 by an expedition from South Africa that had only recently begun its search.
In the history of humankind, there are few stories as inspiring as Ernest Shackleton’s attempt to walk across Antarctica. In the Weddell Sea, the Endurance expedition ship became stranded after a sudden cold snap formed sea ice, which eventually crushed the ship and sent it to its watery grave.
In search of South Georgia island, Shackleton rowed 720 nautical miles across the Southern Ocean, where he knew several whaling stations awaited, after realizing that they would not be able to survive the winter on the icebergs. He embarked on his journey with a lifeboat and a skeleton crew. After arriving in South Georgia after several weeks at sea, Shackleton was able to dispatch a rescue mission to his crew in Antarctica, saving their lives. Because no one was killed on this expedition, it is considered to be one of the most remarkable in history.
After more than a century since Shackleton’s illustrious Antarctic expedition, a new search for the wreckage of the Endurance is under way. In support of the new Endurance22 expedition, which is scheduled to depart in approximately six weeks, an anonymous donor has pledged $10 million toward the cost of the expedition.
During the expedition, the South African icebreaker SA Agulhas II will be used to transport the 64 participants and 46 crew members from one location to another. Endurance22 leader John Shears is hopeful that he will be able to locate the wreckage on his 25th trip to Antarctica. “We have a pretty good idea of the path we need to take…” “We have a great deal of confidence that we will be able to make it over the wreck site together with the ship,” he continued. ” Because of Frank Worsley, the Endurance’s navigator, they are confident in their ability to locate the wreckage within a 7-by-14-mile area in the western Weddell.
It’s not going to be a smooth ride for anyone. Even in the summer, the Weddell Sea is a potentially hazardous environment. According to Ernest Shackleton, it was in that particular area of the world’s worst sea that his ship Endurance went down. According to Mensun Bound, the expedition’s director of exploration, this is “the most inaccessible wreck ever discovered.” The greatest wreck hunt in history has taken place as a result of this.”
Navigating the Weddell Sea is difficult due to the strong currents created by the massive amounts of sea ice present in the region, which makes it difficult for ships to pass through. In this region, sea ice can form overnight as a result of the rapid shifts in wind and temperature that are common in the winter. A wreck hunter by the name of David Mearns says that because of the icy conditions, “it doesn’t get any more difficult than this.”
A previous search for the Endurance had been launched three years earlier, but the submersible that was being used for the search went missing, and the expedition had to be canceled due to the lack of equipment. Real-time data and images will be transmitted between two submersible drones that are connected by a fiber-optic cable, thanks to the efforts of the team. Finally, several helicopters will be dispatched to land on drifting ice, from which a small crew will launch the submarines.
The latest in drone technology will be used to take a 3D scan of the ship if it is eventually discovered by the searchers. Because of the freezing temperatures and the absence of wood-eating organisms, the shipwreck is in a relatively good state of preservation today.
Even if no shipwreck is discovered, the expedition’s ultimate goal is to learn more about sea ice conditions in the Weddell Sea and how they affect climate change. Whatever happens, if this shipwreck is discovered, it will be one of the most significant discoveries in the history of maritime exploration.
If you’re interested in visiting the Weddell Sea or another part of Antarctica, you can contact our Antarctic travel specialist by completing this form.