He Improbably Survived. Now, a Hunt for the Ship That Didn't

Sir Ernest Shackleton's Endurance is thought to be in 10K feet of water off Antarctica
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2018 9:35 AM CDT
A New Hunt Planned for Shackleton's Doomed Ship
A postage stamp featuring Ernest Shackleton.   (Getty Images)

Sir Ernest Shackleton's doomed ship slumbers beneath nearly 10,000 feet of water—and a group of scientists now hopes to find it. The BBC reports on the planned January 2019 mission, whose true intention is to study the Antarctic's Larsen C Ice Shelf. But its position near the Endurance's final recorded location in the Weddell Sea proves too tempting to ignore. The plan, says lead researcher Julian Dowdeswell, is to take the autonomous underwater vehicles that will be used in their examination of Larsen C and send them under the ice in the area where the Endurance was thought to have gone down in 1915. The AUVs' echo sounders will map the seafloor, searching for anything anomalous—assuming things don't go south. The BBC notes that a February 2018 mission to the Larsen C failed.

The British Antarctic Survey behind it explains the sea ice its ship encountered was up to 16 feet thick, and in 24 hours they made it just 5 miles, with more than 250 to go. The Times of London reports Dowdeswell and his team will sail on the SA Agulhas II, a Polar Class 5 ship that can break ice roughly 3 feet thick. That's not good enough, says American shipwreck hunter David Mearns, who also covets the Endurance and thinks a Polar Class 3 ship is needed. "Whatever ship you have, it's possible it won't get there," Dowdeswell allows. "It could be a better or worse sea ice year." Shackleton's survival story is legendary: After abandoning ship, he and his crew survived on ice floes for five months; five days at sea in lifeboats brought them to Elephant Island, and Shackleton and a few others then set off on a 720-nautical-mile voyage to South Georgia, per the Telegraph. (This Antarctic explorer turned back—too late.)

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