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Montevideo, July 18th 2024 - 11:41 UTC

 

 

Wreck of Quest, Shackleton's last ship, found 390 meters deep off Labrador

Thursday, June 13th 2024 - 09:55 UTC
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The Norwegian-built Quest was a schooner-rigged steamship, and Shackleton bought it specifically to travel to Canada’s High Arctic The Norwegian-built Quest was a schooner-rigged steamship, and Shackleton bought it specifically to travel to Canada’s High Arctic

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society is reporting that an international team has found the wreck of the last ship belonging to Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, off the coast of Labrador in Canada, 62 years after it went missing.

The Quest was found using sonar scans sitting on its keel under 390 meters of churning, frigid water, the society said. Its towering mast is lying broken beside it, likely cracked off as the vessel was sucked into the depths after it struck ice on May 5, 1962.

“I heard that some Americans were interested in finding Quest, and I just had this picture in my mind of a few billionaires on yachts, up in the Labrador Sea,” John Geiger, leader of the Shackleton Quest Expedition and the chief executive of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, told an audience at the Memorial University’s Marine Institute in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

“We’ve done it the right way. It’s not about anyone’s ego, it’s about telling great stories and celebrating some of the finest human attributes,” Geiger said. He called the Quest a historically very important ship.

Shackleton’s death aboard the ship in 1922 marked the end of what historians consider the “heroic age” of Antarctic exploration. The explorer led three British expeditions to the Antarctic, and he was in the early stages of a fourth when he died of a heart attack. He was 47.

The Norwegian-built Quest was a schooner-rigged steamship, and Shackleton bought it specifically to travel to Canada’s High Arctic, Geiger said. But the Canadian government at the time axed those plans, and Shackleton decided to set sail once again for the Antarctic.

He died when it was just off South Georgia, east of the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic.

After the explorer’s death, the Quest was used for Arctic research and then returned to its original intended use as a sealing vessel. It sank in 1962, after it was damaged by ice in the Labrador Sea while on a whaling trip.

The vessel appears to be in “incredible condition,” though it was damaged when it slammed into the seabed, Geiger said.

It won’t be brought to the surface — that would be far too expensive, he added — but it will be thoroughly documented and studied. A crew will likely head out some time before the end of summer to begin taking footage of the vessel with a remotely operated vehicle.

In 2022, researchers in a team led by Falkland Islands born marine archeologist, Mensun Bound discovered another of Shackleton's vessels, the “Endurance” in about 3,000 meters of icy water, a century after it was swallowed up by Antarctic ice.

Marine archaeologists, engineers and other scientists working from the South African icebreaker Agulhas II with underwater drones located the wreck at the bottom of the Weddell Sea, near the Antarctica Peninsula.

The expedition Endurance22 embarked from Cape Town, South Africa, in early February in a ship capable of breaking through 3-foot (1-meter)-thick ice.

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