HMS Endeavour found: Captain James Cook's ship 'discovered in Newport harbour'

Experts believe it was one of 13 British vessels that were scuttled during the Revolutionary War

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It was the vessel which British explorer, James Cook commanded between 1768 to 1771 as he sailed uncharted waters in the south Pacific Ocean, yet for centuries its whereabouts was a mystery.

Now, researchers are set to announce they believe they have found the wreckage of HMS Endeavour - submerged in Rhode Island's Newport Harbour. 

According to its website, the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project will announce on Wednesday that it is 80 to 100 per cent sure that the remains of the HMS Endeavour - later renamed the Lord Sandwich - is among sunken wrecks off the state's coast. 

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The statue of Cook at London's Admiralty Arch (Wikipedia)

The group used documents in London to map and then analyse sites where the ship may be found in the harbour.  

The Endeavour was used by Captain James Cook to claim Australia for Britain. It then passed through a number of different hands before it was renamed the Lord Sandwich and used in America's revolutionary war. 

“Lord Sandwich was the first lord of the admiralty at the time so the name makes sense — a nod by its private owner,” Dr Kathy Abbass, the executive director of Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project, a not-for-profit organisation set up in 1992 set up to study the area's maritime history, told CNN.

“We know from its size, dimension and these records that the Sandwich was the Endeavour.”

The researchers believe it was one of 13 vessels sunk by British soldiers when Newport was under siege in 1778.

“The American army was assembled on the mainland and the French sent a fleet to help,” says Ms Abbass. “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.”

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They now believe this particular piece of history lies on the seabed alongside the 12 other vessels that made up the fleet. According to RIMP, the wreckages are spread across nine different sites, and “one group of five ships includes the Lord Sandwich transport, formerly Captain James Cook's Endeavour.”

The group now plans a more detailed exploration of the site and “a more intense study of each vessel's structure and its related artifacts.”

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