Australia Antarctic expedition hopes to find lost ship of famed explorer

03:10  15 april  2018
03:10  15 april  2018 Source:   9News.com.au

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A scientific expedition will next year try to find the Endurance, the ill-fated ship of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. The vessel sank in 1915, crushed by sea-ice in the Weddell Sea and lost in 3,000m of water.

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Sport provided a diversion for the Endurance crew while they were stranded. (AP).© AAP Sport provided a diversion for the Endurance crew while they were stranded. (AP). The search for legendary Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship will be part of a major scientific expedition next year.

An international research team that will investigate the Larsen C ice shelf in early 2019 also hopes to find the Endurance, which sunk in 1915.

The vessel lies 3000 metres under the Weddell Sea – one of the world’s remotest and harshest environments.

Frank Hurley. (AP).: Frank Hurley. © AAP Frank Hurley. Headed by scientists from Cambridge University’s Scott Polar Research Institute, the team will be the first to scan the seabed for the wreck, using autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs).

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A scientific expedition will next year try to find the Endurance, the ill-fated ship of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. The vessel sank in 1915, crushed by sea-ice in the Weddell Sea and lost in 3,000m of water.

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While the expedition’s main goal is the study the Larsen C Ice Shelf, the area is close to where the Endurance went down.

Frank Hurley recording the plight of the Shackleton expedition in 1915. (AP).© AAP Frank Hurley recording the plight of the Shackleton expedition in 1915. (AP). "In our study of Larsen, we will be operating autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). But if we can get them in range of where Endurance is thought to be, we will send them under the ice to do a survey, " expedition leader Julian Dowdeswell told CBS.

The region’s wild weather and thick pack ice are similar to the conditions encountered by Shackleton’s team – which included Australian photographer Frank Hurley  - more than 100 years ago.

His expedition’s stranding in the ice and his rescue of his men would become one of the greatest feats of resilience and navigation – much of it recorded in film and still photos by Hurley.

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A scientific expedition will next year try to find the Endurance, the ill-fated ship of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. The vessel sank in 1915, crushed by sea-ice in the Weddell Sea and lost in 3,000m of water.

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A re-enactment of Shackleton's epic escape to South Georgia was staged in 2013. (AP).© AAP A re-enactment of Shackleton's epic escape to South Georgia was staged in 2013. (AP). Associate Professor Elizabeth Leane, of the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, told nine.com.au Shackleton’s heroic return from the edge of disaster is an iconic polar feat.

She said it ranks alongside Captain Scott’s ill-fated expedition in capturing the fortitude and bravery of early 20th century explorers.

“The Endurance expedition is one of the iconic stories of early Antarctic exploration. Alongside the ‘race to the Pole,’ it is the narrative that defines this period in many people’s imaginations. And the Endurance story has the advantage of a happy ending.”

The stranded Endurance lit up by flares in the night. (AP).© AAP The stranded Endurance lit up by flares in the night. (AP). Shackleton’s bid to cross Antarctica began in 1914.

In January 1915, the Endurance became trapped by ice for 10 months and then sank.

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A scientific expedition will next year try to find the Endurance, the ill-fated ship of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. The vessel sank in 1915, crushed by sea-ice in the Weddell Sea and lost in 3,000m of water.

A scientific expedition will next year try to find the Endurance, the ill-fated ship of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. The vessel sank in 1915, crushed by sea-ice in the Weddell Sea and lost in 3,000m of water.

As the three-masted vessel slid beneath the icy seas, the fearless Hurley dived in and retrieved tins of his negatives and film.

Shackleton and his crew survived for six months before using retrieved lifeboats to reach Elephant Island.

But, battered by wild weather his men suffering frostbite, the tiny uninhabited speck in the ocean offered only brief respite.

Shackleton knew their only hope lay in reaching the whaling stations on South Georgia.

The Endurance becomes trapped in ice in 1915. (AP).© AAP The Endurance becomes trapped in ice in 1915. (AP). Picking his five strongest crew, Shackleton set off on the 720-nautical mile-voyage to South Georgia in a lifeboat, converted to make it more sturdy.

After 16 days battling across the Southern Ocean, the six men reached their destination.

Shackleton finally rescued the all his men in August 1916 after they had spent more than 18 months lost in the Antarctic.

Hurley recorded the great survival story in his film ‘In the Grip of Polar Ice’, released in 1919.

Ernest Shackleton and five of his men made a perilous voyage across the Southern Ocean to South Georgia. (AP).© AAP Ernest Shackleton and five of his men made a perilous voyage across the Southern Ocean to South Georgia. (AP). Assoc Prof Leane says Hurley’s images are central to the Shackleton story’s enduring appeal.

“Hurley’s film and photographs, along with the various written documents produced by the expedition, enabled it to be remembered; there was a major revival of interest in the expedition in the 1990s, which has still not abated.”

He would go on to become an official military photographer in both world wars as well becoming a renowned filmmaker.

Frank Hurley died in Sydney in 1962.

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