Endurance - Search for Shackleton's lost ship begins [SA Agulhas]

Gordon_R

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#1
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47192952

Antarctic scientists seeking to locate the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton's lost ship, the Endurance, have arrived at the search site.

The team broke through thick pack ice on Sunday to reach the vessel's last known position in the Weddell Sea.

Robotic submersibles will now spend the next few days scouring the ocean floor for the maritime icon.

Shackleton and his crew had to abandon Endurance in 1915 when it was crushed by sea ice and sank in 3,000m of water.

Their escape across the frozen floes on foot and in lifeboats is an extraordinary story that has resonated down through the years - and makes the wooden polar yacht perhaps the most sought-after of all undiscovered wrecks.
The British-led Weddell Sea Expedition has given itself five days to find the sunken remains

Operating from the South African ice-breaker, the SA Agulhas II, the team's plan is to put down an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) to map the seafloor for anomalies.
A wide box has been designated, and the robot, equipped with side-scan sonar, will run back and forth across this search zone like a lawnmower. Its first dive will last 45 hours.

There will be no attempt to retrieve artefacts should the Endurance be found. The intention only is to make a 3D model of the wreck site.

The search will be challenging because of the sea ice at the surface. The Agulhas will have to periodically shift its hull to maintain open holes in the floes, through which to launch and recover AUVs.
Scientists are extremely confident they are in the right place to find Endurance.

Shackleton's skipper, Frank Worsely, was a very skilled navigator and used a sextant and chronometer to calculate the precise co-ordinates of the Endurance sinking - 68°39'30.0" South and 52°26'30.0" West.

The ship is almost certainly within a few nautical miles of this point - and there is every chance it is in reasonable condition.
 

Gordon_R

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#2
Oh dear, that didn't go well: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47227657

The attempt this week to find Sir Ernest Shackleton's missing ship, the Endurance, has ended - without success.

A UK-led expedition to the Weddell Sea sent a sub to the ocean floor to look for the sunken polar yacht, but this robot was itself lost in the process.

The team has now withdrawn from the area because of deteriorating weather and ice conditions.
"As a team we are clearly disappointed not to have been successful in our mission to find Endurance," said Mensun Bound, the Director of Exploration for the Weddell Sea Expedition 2019 group.

"Like Shackleton before us, who described the graveyard of Endurance as 'the worst portion of the worst sea in the world', our well laid plans were overcome by the rapidly moving ice, and what Shackleton called 'the evil conditions of The Weddell Sea'."

The team, on its South African ice-breaker, the SA Agulhas II, arrived at the last-reported position of the famous ship on Sunday.

The researchers immediately set about putting down an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) to go map a wide grid in waters that are 3,000m deep. But just as this submersible was coming to the end of its more than 30-hour dive, communications went down.

It is not known whether the sub captured images of Endurance on the seabed before contact was lost, because the scan data could only have been pulled off and examined after recovery.
The US company Ocean Infinity operated the AUV. Representative Oliver Plunkett said: "Everyone at Ocean Infinity is deeply disappointed that at the eleventh hour, we were not able to produce the images of what is without doubt the most challenging shipwreck in the world to locate.

"We understood the risks of pushing the boundaries of what's been done before with technology operating in the harshest environment on the planet. Our team worked tirelessly throughout and are rightly entitled to celebrate what they achieved in advancing knowledge and understanding."
The search for Shackleton's ship was an "extra" for the Weddell Sea Expedition 2019. Its main purpose for being in the region was to study the nearby Larsen C Ice Shelf, which in 2017 calved the monster iceberg known as A68.

This investigation, completed at the end of January, is said to have been hugely successful.

Expedition chief scientist Prof Julian Dowdeswell commented: "Through the scientific data gathered during the expedition, we have deepened our knowledge and understanding of Antarctic oceanography and ecosystems, and our observations on the glaciology and geology will play a critical role in our understanding of Antarctic ice shelves and sea-ice and, importantly, the changes that are occurring here today."
 

3WA

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#3
A UK-led expedition to the Weddell Sea sent a sub to the ocean floor to look for the sunken polar yacht, but this robot was itself lost in the process.
Send a ship to find the robot.
 
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