Members of the crew that discovered the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship say the vessel is in remarkably good condition after 107 years at the bottom of the sea.
The ship, Endurance, became stuck in ice and sank in the Weddell Sea off the coast of Antarctica in 1915.
A mission vessel launched in February, a month after the 100th anniversary of Shackleton’s death, has found Endurance at a depth of 3008 metres and approximately seven kilometres south of the position originally recorded by the ship’s captain Frank Worsley.
The expedition’s director of exploration said the discovery was made with just days left in the mission’s window of exploration, as the crew was being battered by -18 degree winds.
“It was just a brilliant moment,” Mensun Bound told the PA news agency.
“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.”
Mr Bound said Endurance was an incredible sight to behold.
“It’s sitting there proud on the seabed. It’s upright and its state of preservation is absolutely remarkable,” he said.
“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.”
He said the ship’s name was visible, and its broken rudder was lying on the floor.
“When the rudder was ripped aside and torn off that was when the water entered Endurance and then it was game over.”
Shackleton and his crew had set out to achieve the first land crossing of Antarctica but Endurance became trapped in dense pack ice, forcing the 28 men on board eventually to abandon ship.
They were stuck in the ice for about 10 months before escaping in lifeboats and on foot.
The Endurance22 expedition set off from Cape Town, South Africa last month aiming to find the wreck after 107 years.
Expedition leader John Shears said with temperatures dropping, there were just three or four days left in the mission when the discovery was made.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
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