Wreck find: James Cook's "Endeavor" found?

Ship of the discoverer could be located off Newport on the US East Coast

This painting depicts the Endeavor with James Cook on board at the start of his first sea voyage in 1768. © Historic / Thomas Luny (1790)
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Legendary sailor: US archaeologists could have found the ship of the discoverer James Cook, the "Endeavor". The sailor sailed around as the first New Zealand and landed on the east coast of Australia. The fate of Endeavor after his first voyage, however, remained in the dark for 250 years. Now archaeologists may have discovered their wreckage in Newport Harbor on Rhode Island.

James Cook was not only a circumnavigator of the globe, he was also the first European to visit and discover many islands in the Pacific. His first voyage in 1768, however, was all about a cosmic event: the transit of Venice in 1769. To observe him, the British Royal Society financed an expedition to Tahiti and hired Captain James Cook to guide naturalists and astronomers back then barely exploring bringing pacific.

The ship for this trip, a sailor previously used for coal transport, provided the Royal Navy. The Endeavor proved to be surprisingly robust and survived even a stranding on the Great Barrier Reef. But what happened after the return of Cook to England in 1771 with this ship was long unclear. Some historians suspected it in New Zealand, others believed that it had been used in France and sunk there.

Modern replica of the HMS Endeavor © Dennis4trigger / CC-by-sa 3.0

Sunk in the War of Independence

But the researchers of the Rhode Iceland Archeology Project (RIMAP) have some time ago discovered evidence of a completely different fate of Cook's ship: From historical records shows that the Endeavor under the new name "Lord Sandwich" by the British in the United States War of Independence was used.

The ship transported British troops and equipment to the eastern coast of North America, but was also temporarily used as a Gefgnnistransporter to convict American prisoners. In 1778, the former Endeavor is said to have been one of the 13 ships sunk by the rebellious colonists in Newport Harbor. display

Historical picture of Port of Newport - historic

One of five wrecks

Meanwhile, the underwater archaeologists have identified nine potential wrecks in Newport harbor. They report that the former Endeavor belonged to a group of five ships that were sunk together in one part of the port. Of four of these wrecks, the researchers have already found the positions safely, the possible position of the fifth wreckage is based on the latest remote sensing data.

"That means we have an 80 to 100 percent chance that the Lord Sandwich is still in the port of Newport, " it said in a press release. "And because the Lord Sandwich is identical to the Endeavor, it means we've found it with it as well."

However, finding out which of the wrecks is the endeavor could still be difficult, because the remains of the ship are poorly preserved and there were several ships of similar size and tonnage at that time, as the archaeologists emphasize "We expect to have a number of years of work to do before we can make a clear assignment."

(RIMAP, 04.05.2016 - NPO)