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On this day in history – 5th March 2022: Shackleton’s Endurance found

On 5th March 2022, an expedition organised by the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust located the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s three-master barquentine, Endurance, which was crushed by Antarctic ice and sank on 21 November 1915.

Using special undersea autonomous drones, launched from a South African polar research vessel, SA Agulhas II, the wreckage was discovered at a depth of 3008 metres (9,869 feet) approximately four miles from where she was last seen. A 60-strong international team of marine archaeologists, engineers, scientists and sub-sea technicians, overseen by Expedition Leader, John Shears and FMHT Trustee and Director of Exploration, Mensun Bound, found Endurance 30 days after setting off from Cape Town. Endurance was largely intact, as can be seen from the images taken at the time of the discovery, and the find came 100 years to the day since Sir Ernest Shackleton was buried in South Georgia.

The loss of the Endurance in 1915 captured the imagination of the world and remains a remarkable story of human survival.Not only did Shackleton’s entire crew of 27 men escape the sinking, but their leader’s ability also to keep them safe until rescued from Elephant Island on 30 August 2016 remains an unprecedented and remarkable story of heroism and leadership.

The 21st Century underwater technology used to locate the wreckage is also remarkable. It included specially built hybrid Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) called Sabertooths, fitted with High-Definition cameras and side-scan imaging capability. Made in Sweden by SAAB and operated by sub-sea specialists, Sabertooths are able to search and map huge patches of the ocean floor to depths of up to 4,000 meters (13,123 feet) without a direct connection to their mother ship.

Marking the second anniversary of the historic find, the Chairman of the Falklands Maritime Trust, Donald Lamont, says:

“By finding Sir Ernest’s iconic polar ship, we have been able to uncover vital new sub-sea data which will not only clarify our understanding of what happened to the Endurance, but will also enhance our understanding of the sea ice in the Weddell Sea. This new knowledge will enable us to contribute towards the protection of the wreck and continue to inspire young people around the world with Shackleton’s story with its unique combination of science, engineering, technology and exploration that is still relevant today.”

Find out more by exploring our official Endurance22 website.