Captain Cook’s Legendary Ship “The Endeavour” Might Be Back!

The Endeavour; the fabled ship of one of the most dedicated explorers of the modern world. It was thought to have been long destroyed. However, recent discoveries from archaeologists from the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP) suggest that the ship in which Captain James Cook reached Australia in 1770 is still intact.

The great Endeavour was first made of oak and pine in the north of England to serve the Royal Navy in the Revolutionary War. After that, in 1778, it was scuttled with many other “unimportant” vessels off Newport, Rhode Island.

HMS Endeavour replica in Cooktown Harbour, Queensland — anchored where the original Endeavour was beached for seven weeks in 1770.

Archaeological studies about these vessels transported from Newport had gone on for around 25 years. Out of 13 vessels in total, the search for the Endeavour was narrowed to 5, and one or two possible archaeological sites.

Kevin Sumption, the director of the Australian National Maritime Museum, told the Guardian that a “promising site” was located. However, nothing was 100% sure yet.

The routes of Captain James Cook’s voyages. The first voyage is shown in red, second voyage in green, and third voyage in blue. The route of Cook’s crew following his death is shown as a dashed blue line. Photo by Jon Platek CC BY-SA 3.0

Captain James Cook departed Plymouth in August 1768. In April 1770, Cook made Endeavour the first European ship to reach the east coast of Australia when he arrived at Botany Bay.

The Endeavour hasn’t always had this name. Funnily enough, a few years after it reached Australia, people renamed it the Lord Sandwich. After that, it was also used as a prison for the Americans captured during the Revolutionary War by the British.

The Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project began the study of all those transported vessels in 1993. After 6 years of research, they had found enough evidence to publish a historical article that the Lord Sandwich was used as a prison ship and that it was the same legendary ship as that of Captain Cook’s.

Low angle view of bronze statue Captain James Cook, The Explorer by sculptor Thomas Woolner, 1879, in Hyde Park, Sydney, Australia.

After these findings, the Heritage Commission became the custodian of the Newport Harbor shipwrecks. Also, in order to protect the vessels, a “No Anchor – No Dive” has been established around the archaeological sites.

Official portrait of Captain James Cook.

As history suggests, the British scuttled the Lord Sandwich so that it could serve as a form of a blockade to French vessels that entered the war on the side of George Washington. According to the executive director Kathy Abbass’ interview with CNN in 2014, the British knew that they were at great risk, so they ordered 13 ships to be scuttled in a line to blockade the city. Each of these 13 ships was sunk in fairly shallow water.

The Endeavour replica at Australian National Maritime Museum, 2013. Photo by Hpeterswald CC BY SA 3.0

The Endeavour is quite a significant ship in modern history. Even the U.S. Space Shuttle Endeavour is named after the legendary ship!

The Endeavour replica on display at Chatham Dockyard in September 2003. Photo by Clem Rutter, Rochester Kent CC BY 2.5

Cook has actually made history with his voyage to Australia. Unfortunately, not everyone regards him with great respect. For example, a statue of his in Sydney’s Hyde Park was vandalized in 2017. There was graffiti reading “no pride in genocide” and “change the date” These lines refer to Australia Day, which elebrates the day the Union Flag went up at Sydney Cove to establish a British penal colony.

Still, this doesn’t change the fact that he was one of the greatest navigators that has ever lived. He dedicated his entire life to explorations until he died at Kealakekua Bay on February 14, 1779 while he was on his third voyage in the Pacific.

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Written by Catherine

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