The wreck of Endurance, the ship that carried the expedition led by explorer Ernest Shackleton, has been found in the Antarctic, 106 years after it was crushed by ice and sank.
The ship was discovered at the bottom of the Weddell Sea using undersea drones.
Marine archaeologist Mensun Bound, who is part of the expedition that set out to find the ship, described the condition of Endurance to the BBC.
“Without any exaggeration this is the finest wooden shipwreck I have ever seen — by far.”
Bound said the ship was found at a depth of 9,868 feet.
Ernest Shackleton, a crew of 27 and a cat set sail from Plymouth, England, on the Endurance for Antarctic on the 1914-1917 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. The goal of the expedition was to cross the Antarctic continent on foot.
Shackleton and his crew made it to the whaling station at Grytviken on the island of South Georgia on Nov. 5, 1914. The ship left a month later, heading for the southern regions of the Weddell Sea.
Endurance became trapped and was eventually crushed by sea ice. The crew abandoned the ship and lived on ice floes in camps they made from materials from the ship.
Eventually, they boarded lifeboats to sail to Elephant Island, which was uninhabited. From there, six of the men, including Shackleton, made an 800-mile journey in an open boat to South Georgia. From South Georgia, a rescue effort was launched, and the rest of the crew was recovered.
According to Bound, the expedition found the ship in remarkable condition.
“It is upright, well-proud of the seabed, intact, and in a brilliant state of preservation.
“You can even see the ship’s name — E N D U R A N C E — arced across its stern directly below the taffrail (a hand rail near the stern).
“And beneath, as bold as brass, is Polaris, the five-pointed star, after which the ship was originally named.
“I tell you, you would have to be made of stone not to feel a bit squishy at the sight of that star and the name above.”
The wreck was found a hundred years to the day after Shackleton’s funeral on March 5, 1922.
“I don’t usually go with this sort of stuff at all, but this one I found a bit spooky,” Bound said.