Expedition bids to locate lost ship of polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton

The Endurance22 Expedition will leave Cape Town, South Africa, on February 5 and travel to Antarctica.

Gemma Bradley
Wednesday 05 January 2022 17:12
(UK Antarctic Heritage Trust)
(UK Antarctic Heritage Trust)

An expedition to locate the lost ship of renowned polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton will set sail 100 years after his death.

The Endurance22 Expedition aims to find, survey and film the wreck of Endurance, which sank during Sir Ernest’s quest to Antarctica in 1915, and now lies somewhere at the bottom of the Weddell Sea.

The trip gained notoriety due to icy conditions which caused the boat and crew to be trapped in sea ice for more than 10 months, before the crew successfully escaped in lifeboats and on foot.

The expedition to find the ship will set off for Antarctica from Cape Town South Africa on February 5 – one month after the 100th anniversary of Sir Ernest’s death.

Ernest Shackleton’s Christmas camp on the Antarctic Plateau (Scott Polar Research Institute/University of Cambridge)

Mensun Bound, director of exploration, said: “We will do everything we can to survey and capture footage of Endurance and to bring the epic tale of her final voyage, and of the leadership, courage and fortitude of her crew, to people around the world.”

The Hon Alexandra Shackleton, granddaughter of Sir Ernest, said: “My grandfather would have been amused and pleased that a century later there is a huge interest, and he seems to appeal to a lot of very different people.”

Telling the story of one of his earlier expeditions, she added: “He got within 97 miles of the South Pole, he would have been the first, but he and his companions were in a bad state physically and though they probably could have staggered on, they would have died there.

Port Lockroy, the first British wintering station on the Antarctic Peninsula. Credit: The UK Antarctic Heritage Trust.

“So, he took the decision to turn back, which I regard as one of the great decisions in polar history and one I’m very proud of.

“He brought his men back alive.”

As well as being a pioneering explorer, Sir Ernest also helped to produce scientific and geological surveys, including the first survey of Antarctica’s interior and effectively locating the Magnetic South Pole.

Camilla Nichol, chief executive of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT), said: “These iconic figures like Shackleton can still inspire us all today. The decisions they made, the leadership, the courage, the endurance, these are qualities that I think we all strive to have.

“I think looking up to these people in the past can do us a lot of good and give us that inspiration to maybe push ourselves a little further in the future.”

A member of museum staff with Ernest Shackleton’s sledge (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Meanwhile, the only known surviving sledge from Sir Ernest’s British Antarctic Expedition of 1907-1909 has gone on display at the National Maritime Museum in London.

It is the first time the 11ft sledge will have been on display to the public.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in