Ernest Shackleton: Where was Shackleton's Endurance ship found, who was Ernest Shackleton and how did he die?

107 years after it sank, the ship belonging to explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton has been recovered – here’s who Ernest Shackleton was and where his Endurance ship was found

The wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton's wooden ship has been recovered from the ocean depths more than a century after it sank off the coast of Antarctica.

Shackleton embarked on a number of expeditions in the frostier corners of the world as one of the 20th century’s foremost polar explorers.

The Ireland-born explorer broke several records in the early 1900s with his travels to far-reaching parts of the North and South Poles, and was the secretary of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society from 1904 to 1905.

Ernest Shackleton: Where was Shackleton's Endurance ship found, who was Ernest Shackleton and how did he die? (Image credit: PA Wire/Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust)

Shackleton’s ship, Endurance, sank after becoming trapped in ice during his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1915, with the explorer and his crew only narrowly surviving the incident.

But a team of modern day explorers, including British historian Dan Snow, have now brought Endurance back from the brink.

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Here’s what you need to know.

Sir Ernest Shackleton on board the 'Quest', issued on 05/01/1922 on the announcement of his death. (Image credit: PA Wire)

Who was Sir Ernest Shackleton?

Born on February 15, 1874 in Kilkea, County Kildare, Ireland, Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton was a renown polar explorer credited with expanding the knowledge and discovery of polar regions across the world.

Having moved to London with his family at the age of 11 and leaving school at 16-years-old to train in the Royal Navy, Shackleton’s first experience of polar exploration came with his journey on the Discovery expedition, led by Robert Falcon Scott.

Shackleton fell ill on the voyage to the Antarctic begun in 1901 and was sent home, but his determination to become a successful polar explorer like Falcon Scott paved the rest of his career path.

Photo issued by Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust of the stern of the wreck of Endurance, Sir Ernest Shackleton's ship which has not been seen since it was crushed by the ice and sank in the Weddell Sea in 1915.

He rose to prominence as an explorer after one of his landmark solo voyages in 1908, the Nimrod Expedition, took him within 97 miles of the South Pole.

Despite falling short of his aim to reach the South Pole, Shackleton returned to Britain as a national hero - knighted ‘Sir’ for claiming the high Polar plateau in 1909 for King Edward VII.

The perilous Endurance disaster in 1915 saw Shackleton and his 28-man crew escape the ship when it became trapped in ice off the Antarctic coast, with the crew trapped in the ice for around 10 months.

How did Sir Ernest Shackleton die?

Despite surviving the Endurance disaster in the Weddell Sea in 1915, Shackleton’s died at the age of 47 during his attempt to locate the sunken ship.

It is believed that Shackleton died in the early hours of the morning on January 5 1922 of a fatal heart attack.

The start of this year marked 100 years since Shackleton’s death on board his ship Quest when it was anchored off the coast of South Georgia.

At the request of Shackleton’s wife, Emily, the explorer was buried in South Georgia in tribute to his commitment to exploring the Antarctic and love of being at sea.

Where was Shackleton’s boat Endurance found?

Not seen since it sank in the Weddell Sea in 1915, a team of modern day explorers set off in February to locate Shackleton’s wooden ship Endurance in the Endurance22 Expedition.

A team of explorers led by Dr John Shears of the British Antarctic Survey set off from Cape Town, South Africa, discovering and recovering Endurance 3,008 metres deep into the Antarctic Ocean and approximately four miles south of the position originally recorded by the ship's captain Frank Worsley.

The expedition's director of exploration, Mensun Bound, said footage of Endurance showed it to be intact and "by far the finest wooden shipwreck" he has seen.

Mensun Bound said: "We are overwhelmed by our good fortune in having located and captured images of Endurance.

"It is upright, well proud of the seabed, intact, and in a brilliant state of preservation. You can even see 'Endurance' arced across the stern, directly below the taffrail.

"This is a milestone in polar history."

Dr John Shears said his team, accompanied by historian Dan Snow, had made "polar history" by completing what he called "the world's most challenging shipwreck search".

Dan Snow said on Twitter: "Endurance has been found. Discovered at 3,000 metres on 5 March 2022, 100 years to the day since Shackleton was buried.

"After weeks of searching Endurance was found within the search box conceived by Mensun Bound, only just over four miles south of the location at which its captain Frank Worsley calculated it had sunk. The entire team aboard #Endurance22 are happy and a little exhausted!

"Nothing was touched on the wreck. Nothing retrieved. It was surveyed using the latest tools and its position confirmed. It is protected by the Antarctic Treaty. Nor did we wish to tamper with it."

He said the wreck is "coherent" and in an "astonishing state of preservation".

Additional reporting by PA

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