The Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project calls it "one of the most important shipwrecks in world history," an 18th-century ship so distinct that it and its captain are said to have served as an inspiration for Star Trek—and the Endeavour may finally have been found. Explorer Capt. James Cook and the Endeavour departed Britain in 1768 on a quest to map the Pacific Ocean; two years later, he arrived in Australia and claimed its east coast for England, reports the BBC. As for how the Endeavour ended up in what RIMAP believes is its final resting place off Newport, RI, the ship was later rechristened Lord Sandwich and sailed stateside during the Revolutionary War. RIMAP Executive Director Dr. Kathy Abbass previously told CNN that a French fleet was sailing toward the state in advance of what would be the 1778 Battle of Rhode Island.
"The British knew they were at great risk, so they ordered 13 ships out to be scuttled in a line to blockade the city. They were sunk in fairly shallow waters," she says. RIMAP says historical documents held in London provided it with the identities of "the groups of ships in that [British] fleet," with one group of five containing the Lord Sandwich. After analyzing remote sensing data of one part of Newport Harbor, the group now believes it has found the collection of five it's looking for, and it says there's "an 80% to 100% chance" the Lord Sandwich—and, therefore, the Endeavour—is there. The group will outline its next steps Wednesday. As for that Star Trek connection, this line from Cook's journal is echoed by Capt. Kirk in the opening narration: "I whose ambition leads me not only farther than any other man has been before me, but as far as I think it possible for man to go." (The answer to an enduring Navy mystery was recently found off San Francisco.)