A South African icebreaker departedSaturday morning, Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance was searched by the expedition. It was slowly crushed by pack-ice and sank off Antarctica’s coast in 1915. The expedition is heading to a place that Ernest Shackleton described as “the worst section of the worst ocean in the world”.
“The Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust is happy to confirm that the Endurance22 Expedition, which aims to locate, survey, and film the wreck Endurance ,…, has left Cape Town on schedule, heading for the Weddell sea in Antarctica,” said the expedition’s organizers.
S.A Agulhas II has departed Cape Town for the Weddell Strait. Dr John Shears, Expedition Leader, stated: This is a historic moment for what we hope to be a truly historic expedition.https://t.co/XCEZzmk7Qj
Endurance22 (@Endurance_22) February 5, 2022
Endurance was part the famed polar explorer’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic expedition in 1914 and 1917. However, it was intended to make the first land crossing to Antarctica. But it was overwhelmed by the Weddell Sea.
It was found just east of Larsen ice shelves, Antarctic peninsula. It was ensnared by sea-ice over 10 months until it was crushed and sunk some 3,000 meters below its surface.
Because of the incredible escape Shackleton and his crew made by foot and in boats, the voyage is now a legend.
The men drifted for five months on the equivalent of an ice cube, 1,000 kilometres from civilization, until the ship went down. Desperate and hungry, they decided to shoot their animals, eat their meat, and then take their lifeboats to safety. They finally reached Elephant Island, a dark and lonely outpost.
Shackleton selected five volunteers from the group and prepared the James Caird, the strongest of the lifeboats, for an even more remarkable voyage. They set sail in a 22 1/2-foot boat to South Georgia Island, which is more than 800 miles away.
The 22 men who were left on Elephant Island didn’t know whether Shackleton or the others were still alive. They were demoralized, weak, malnourished, and malnourished. However, they packed up every day just to be safe in case Shackleton appeared to rescue them.
Shackleton finally made it after four months of trying, on August 30, 1916.
Frank Worsley, captain of the ship, said that Shackleton looked through his binoculars with almost painstaking intensity. Finally he saw the men and counted them. He shouted to my, “They’re all here Skipper!” Shackleton’s expression was more expressive than anything I’ve ever seen.
Caroline Alexander, historian and author of The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition,The story of Shackleton’s men and Shackleton is considered “the greatest survival story” in the 20th century.
“The worst part of the worst ocean in the world”
S.A. Agulhas II, a South African icebreaker, set off from Cape Town Saturday morning with 46 crew members and a 64-member expedition group. This included scientists from top international institutions.
Donald Lamont (chairman of the organizers) stated that the preparations were thorough, but not without its challenges. “But the team has remained agile and determined, and this has taken us to where are today.”
The search team includes members who came Close to finding the wreck in 2019.The BBC reported. After reaching the sinking area, they deployed an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) to survey the seafloor. However, after 20 hours below the surface, the AUV lost communication and the Agulhas II was forced to retreat.
The expedition will last between 35-45 days. The vessel will navigate through heavy ice and harsh temperature conditions.
It will use state-of the-art technology to locate the shipwreck and explore it with two underwater drones. Additionally, it will conduct scientific studies that could aid in understanding climate change and ice conditions.
The journey will be difficult.
Anglo-Irish explorer, James Cook, described the sink site as “the worst part of the worst sea in all of the world.”
The ship was 144 feet long and sank in the Weddell Bay. This swirling current supports thick sea ice, which can cause problems even for modern day icebreakers.
It is one of most difficult parts of the ocean.
Mensun Bound is Endurance22’s director, exploration. He said that his team hoped to do justice to “this magnificent chapter in Polar Exploration.”
“Believe me, it’s quite daunting,” Bound spoke to the BBC. “The Weddell sea pack ice is moving in a clockwise manner. It’s opening, and it’s clenching. It’s a dangerous and deadly environment that we are entering.”
If they do find it they will leave it alone but will 3D scan it and broadcast it live.
Despite the optimism, there is no guarantee that the 110-year old ship will be found.
David Mearns, one the world’s most renowned shipwreck hunters, stated to AFP that it was the most difficult shipwreck challenge. The ice conditions make it even more difficult.