‘Finest wooden shipwreck’ discovered more than 100 years after it sank in Antarctica

Scientists successfully discover ship Endurance, which sank in 1915

Ernest Shackleton's ship Endurance is shown trapped in ice. (Bettmann, Getty Images)

More than 100 years after it sank, scientists are rejoicing in what they are calling a discovery of one of the world’s greatest shipwrecks.

On Wednesday, a team of scientists announced it had located the ship Endurance, which sank in Antarctica’s Weddell Sea in November 1915, according to the BBC.

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Endurance belonged to Sir Ernest Shackleton, who led a crew of 27 men and 69 dogs who attempted to traverse the continent via the South Pole and establish a base on the coast of the Weddell Sea.

The ship ended up getting trapped in ice, leaving the crew stranded in a brutal Antarctica winter for nine months.

Miraculously, though, before Endurance eventually was swallowed up by the ice and frigid waters, the crew survived on food and other supplies, and they eventually escaped to land, according to History.com.

To view actual footage of Endurance sinking, click or tap here.

The crew used ice floes and smaller boats to make it to Elephant Island, a small island off the coast of Antarctica, where they rested and recovered for nine days.

British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton's ship, the Endurance, is shown caught in the ice of the Weddell Sea, where it eventually sank, in Antarctica in 1915. In the foreground is one of the expedition members out with a dog sled team on a food foraging expedition. (Getty Images)

Select crew members then made a grueling 800-mile trek by boat to South Georgia Island in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, which took them 16 days to complete through rough and frigid waters.

Once there, they were able to call for help, and a mission was performed to rescue the other 22 crew members still on Elephant Island.

For more than a century, Endurance has laid 3,000 meters underwater in the Weddell Sea.

In February, with this year being the 100th anniversary of Shackleton’s death, a United Kingdom-based team set out on an expedition called Endurance22 to locate the wreck.

The crew traveled to the site via an icebreaker ship.

Shackleton had reportedly described the site where the ship sunk as “the worst portion of the sea in the world,” according to Financial Times.

By using a remote-controlled underwater vehicle, Endurance was found by the team of Endurance22 last weekend.

“This by far is the finest wooden shipwreck I’ve ever seen,” said Mensun Bound, the exploration director, according to the BBC.

John Shears, an expedition director, said the crew “successfully completed the world’s most challenging shipwreck search.”

The ship was described as well-preserved because of the coldness of the water and absence of wood-eating fauna.

The ship will remain untouched under the terms of the Antarctic Treaty, an agreement signed in 1959 by 12 countries to preserve the Antarctic continent for scientific research.


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Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.