What was the mission of Endurance, the ship found in Antarctica 107 years after sinking


Although his father had decided that he would become a doctor, Ernest Henry Shackleton had other plans for himself: at age 16 he joined the merchant navy.

Shackleton traveled to different parts of the world, but the dream of this young adventurer, born in Ireland in 1874 and educated in London, was to explore the poles.

In 1901, he was chosen by British naval officer Robert Falcon Scott to participate in an expedition to Antarctica aboard the ship Discovery.

After touring the South Pole with Scott and another explorer in extreme weather, coming as close to the pole as no one had ever come before, Shackleton became seriously ill.

He barely had the strength to pull the sled and started coughing up blood. Scott then decided to send him back home.

Although Scackleton saw what happened to him as a humiliation, the journey was an invaluable experience for him. And from then on, his fate was forever linked to the frozen continent.

In August 1907, accompanied by a crew of sailors, scientists, civilians, and even guests who paid for their seats, Shackleton set sail for Antarctica aboard the Nimrod, an ancient ship in disrepair, determined to prove to himself that it was a true polar explorer.

Important scientific discoveries were made during this voyage, and Shackleton set a new record by getting closer than ever to the South Pole.

His achievements have earned him the title of ‘Sir’, an honor given to those who stand out for outstanding achievement, personal bravery and service to the United Kingdom.

But it wasn’t until 1914 that Shackleton undertook his third voyage to Antarctica, this time aboard the Endurance, an expedition that was halted when the ship ran aground on ice before finally sinking into the icy waters.

The vessel, which has become a true legend due to the journey that its crew had to make by boat and on foot to return to land, was finally found last weekend at the bottom of the Weddell Sea, in the South Atlantic region, in Antarctica.

Despite being sunk more than 3,000 meters deep since November 1915, the images recorded on video show the ship practically intact.

the expedition

On August 8, 1914, the Endurance left the port of Plymouth, in southwest England, bound for Buenos Aires, Argentina. There, more people joined the crew to make the trip to Antarctica.

From there, the ship departed on December 5, 1914, after a stopover in the islands of South Georgia, a British territory in the south Atlantic Ocean.

But when it reached the Weddell Sea in January of the following year, facing inclement winds for six days, the ship was trapped in the ice compressed around it by the force of the air current.

In February 1915, the 28 sailors aboard the Endurance realized that the ice around the ship would not allow it to move. They tried several maneuvers, but without success.

For the next 10 months, the crew was at the mercy of strong winds and sea currents that moved the immense mass of ice they were trapped in from one side to the other.

In October, the pressure exerted by the ice on the ship was such that water began to seep into the ship. Thus, there was no alternative but to abandon it and camp on the surrounding frozen surface.

“It was a terrifying experience,” Meredith Hooper, a historian specializing in Antarctica, tells the BBC. “They had to move their tents even twice in one night. They heard the ice breaking. And the suffering of the ship, which seemed to cry, like a wounded animal.”

Until on November 21, 1915, the Endurance sank.

What follows is a story of survival. In April 1916, the crew managed to escape in three lifeboats until they reached the uninhabited Elephant Island, flanked to the north by the Drake Passage and to the south by the Waddell Sea.

Miraculously, everyone survived. Upon arrival, Shackleton and five crew members set out again for South Georgia to organize the rescue of the remaining sailors – a journey of more than 1,200 kilometers awaited them.

They returned in August to take what was left of the crew to the mainland, which was eventually rescued by Chilean Navy icebreaker Yelcho. The group’s destination was Punta Arenas, in Chilean Patagonia.


The mission of the Endurance expedition was to make the first land crossing of the Antarctic continent.

“Men sought for dangerous voyages. Low wages, extreme cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, doubtful return unscathed. Honors and recognition in case of success,” read the announcement to find crew members published by Shackleton in the London press in 1914.

Many more men than expected responded to the offer, and after a selection process, Shackleton chose the 27 who would make up the expedition.

They turned out to be 28: a Welsh crasher – Perce Blackborow – came in at the last minute. When they found out, it was already too late.

On missions like these, when food is scarce, “the crashers are the first to be eaten,” Shackleton said, apparently furious.

“I believe the crew would get more meat from you, sir!” Perce replied jokingly.

But cannibalism was not necessary – the crew survived by eating seals and penguins until rescued.

Although the mission’s objective was not accomplished and, from this point of view, the Endurance expedition could be considered a failure, Ernest Shackleton achieved one of the greatest feats of polar exploration at the beginning of the century: he returned to the United Kingdom with all his men sane. and saved.


However, failure did not dampen his desire to return to the South.

Aboard the Quest, he set out to circumnavigate the Antarctic continent. And he couldn’t do that.

Shackleton died on January 5, 1922 of a heart attack while in his cabin aboard the ship at anchor in South Georgia.

He was 47 years old. His body was buried on the island.

Read more on the BBC


You May Also Like

Recommended for you

Immediate Peak