Shipwreck of Captain James Cook’s Endeavour Believed to Have Been Found

Underwater archaeologists say that they may have discovered the remains of the HMS Endeavour, the ship that was used by Captain James Cook when he explored and map much of the coast of Australia in 1770. The vessel, which would later change its name to the much-less inspiring name of Lord Sandwich is believed to be resting at the bottom of Newport Harbor off the coast of Rhode Island in the U.S., where it was scuttled during in 1778 during the Revolutionary War.

The Endeavour played a huge role in exploring the Pacific Ocean and traveling around the globe. Cook was aboard the ship when he not only made a return trip by Europeans to Australia, but also conducted the first circumnavigation of New Zealand and reestablished contact with the Hawaii Islands too. His efforts were instrumental in opening the Pacific to other explorers who followed, as well as establishing colonies in the region.

But his ship would meet an ignominious end at the bottom of the ocean. During the war between the U.S. colonies and Great Britain, the ship was used to transport troops. Fearing it might be captured, it was scuttled prior to the Battle of Rhode Island in 1778 and it has rested in the murky depths of the ocean ever since. Now, underwater archaeologists believe they have located and identified the ship at long last and are hoping to get definitive proof of its identify soon.

Divers for the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP) have found a shipwreck in Newport Harbor that they believe is the Endeavour. Early work aboard the ship by the divers and underwater drones has uncovered a number of intriguing elements, including “sheaves, and other wood fragments, bits of leather, textiles, glass, and ceramics, samples of coal and charcoal, ballast and worked stone including gun flints.” That said, the RIMAP crew is quick to point out that there is still no definitive evidence of which ship they have found, as several were scuttled prior t to the battle and it could be one of the others that accompanied Endeavour into the depths. The samples taken from the ship will be examined more closely by forensic scientists using special equipment with the hopes of more conclusively determining the identify of the shipwreck.

Finding the location of this ship hasn’t been quick or easy. This is the culmination of more than 27 years of research and careful planning. Over that time, there have been scans of harbor and remote sensing operations searching for the wreckage. On top of that, the RIMAP crew wasn’t even sure if the Lord Sandwich was actually the Endeavour, which took plenty of investigating in its own right. A lack of funds for the group has contributed to its slow pace, but now it believes the group is on the threshold of a major discovery.

There is a lot of history to accompany this ship and all of the things it has seen. It would be amazing to discover its location after all of this time, even if it did find an end that wasn’t befitting of its status. Hopefully the team behind the discovery will get the conclusive findings they need.

Kraig Becker