The crew that discovered the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship feared “running out of time”And becoming “trapped”Antarctic Ice as Temperatures Dropped
Endurance became stuck in ice and sank in the Weddell Sea off the coast of Antarctica in 1915 and had been lost until a mission vessel, launched in February, a month after the 100th anniversary of Sir Ernest’s death, located it.
The expedition’s director of exploration described the “strange day”Three days before the mission was due to end, he was alerted.
He spoke of being a “bundle of nerves”In the days leading up to the discovery, millions of dollars had been invested in the mission. The crew was also being battered with -18C winds that brought about fears of frostbite.
Mensun Bound spoke to the PA news agency: “I remember the moment we set foot on board. All of a sudden the intercom system was blasting out our names demanding that we came to the (vessel’s) bridge immediately and the head of the subsea team said ‘gentleman, I want you to meet Endurance’.
“It was just a brilliant moment. We were patting each other on the back. There was laughter and rejoicing on the bridge, which is usually a very sober place but not that day- it was a wonderful moment.”
The Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust said Endurance was found at a depth of 3,008 metres and approximately four miles south of the position originally recorded by the ship’s captain Frank Worsley.
(PA Graphics)PA Graphics/Press Association Images- PA Graphics
Mr Bound continued: “It’s an incredible sight to me. It’s sitting there proud of the seabed. It’s upright and its state of preservation system is absolutely remarkable.
“You can see the paintwork on it, you can count the fastenings on the timbers and to cap it all you have that amazing situation right in the stern where you can see the ship’s wheel perfectly intact.
“And you go over the back around the counter stern, there in capital letters the words ‘Endurance’ and beneath it the Polaris star with its five points.
“Beneath that you can see the rudder lying on the floor, which was the cause of all their problems. When the rudder was ripped aside and torn off that was when the water entered Endurance and then it was game over.”
Menson Bound and John Shears, Esther Horvath/Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust/PAPA Media – Esther Horvath/Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust
Sir Ernest and his crew set out to make the first Antarctica land crossing. However, Endurance failed to reach land and was trapped in dense pack ice. The 28 men aboard the ship were forced to abandon ship.
They were frozen for about 10 months before they were able to escape in lifeboats and by foot.
Last month, the Endurance22 Expedition left Cape Town, South Africa to search for the wreck after 107-years.
Endurance photos, videos and laser images displayed in the control rooms on SA Agulhas II by Esther Horvath/Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust/PAPA Media – Esther Horvath/Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust
Dr John Shears, expedition leader, stated: “We were running out of time, we only had three or four days left in the Weddell Sea where we could possibly find the wreck.
“Temperatures were dropping, we knew that the sea ice was forming. If we hadn’t found the wreck when we did, it would have been extremely difficult for us to stay any longer.
“We were right on the end of the Antarctic summer season. We could have been in real danger of having the vessel trapped in ice.
“It was even better because we’d been searching for so long, we’d had numerous false alarms. To actually see the wreck when it’s so pristine – it’s as if that wreck just sunk yesterday – was a real jaw-dropping moment for me.
“When I saw the first images I had no comprehension it would be as spectacular as it is.”
Dr Shears described the moment he heard the words. ‘Endurance’They were found on board the ship, and it was stated that the images were not lost. “iconic” “historic”.