A long-standing bid to locate the wreck of polar explorer Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance could still be mounted in time for the centenary of his most famous expedition in 2014. That’s the view of expert David Mearns, who heads the ambitious proposal.
Mr Mearns said any effort to find Endurance would be technically challenging and expensive. But he says it could be prepared in a year-and-a-half if financial backing could be secured. Mr Mearns, who is director of UK-based Blue Water Recoveries, calls it “a 100-year dream”. He said there were no “concrete” plans at present to search for the wreck. But the project is under discussion, and Mr Mearns adds: “There is certainly more interest today than there was two years ago.”
The 1914 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, led by polar explorer Ernest Shackleton, set out to complete the first land crossing of Antarctica. But when Endurance became trapped by pack ice in the Weddell Sea, the crew had to abandon ship and camp out on one of the floes.
Some key supplies were salvaged before the vessel was crushed by the ice and sank. Though Shackleton had failed in his goal of crossing Antarctica, the expedition would later be celebrated as an epic feat of survival.
The crew drifted until their floe split suddenly, forcing them to undertake a perilous journey in lifeboats. They eventually reached Elephant Island, where Shackleton selected a small breakaway group to accompany him on a voyage to South Georgia to seek help. After the small party reached the whaling station of Stromness, he organised a rescue for the remainder of his crew. After four attempts, they were finally picked up from Elephant Island by in August 1916. Edited from Endurance: ‘Still time’ for Shackleton centenary search.