This expedition will be the first to use Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) in the search for Sir Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship, Endurance. When the vessel was crushed in the ice and sank in 1915, Captain Frank Worsley took detailed measurements of the location using a sextant and recorded it in his diary, which is now in the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) archives.
Consequently, the expedition team knows where to focus its search efforts and, as long as it can get close enough to the vessel, aims to deploy the free-swimming AUVs under the ice in order to try to locate it.
The AUVs have the ability to reach sites up to one hundred miles away from the ship from which they are launched, and to return with photos and survey data. This means that even if the sea ice conditions are difficult, it may be possible for the expedition to survey the site of the wreck, even if SA Agulhas II cannot reach the location itself.
As part of the expedition to one of the most remote areas on the globe, the team have contingency plans in place. Please see the Initial Environmental Evaluation for more details.
The Weddell Sea was first discovered in 1823 by British sailor and seal hunter James Weddell who, at the time, was commanding the brig ‘Jane’.
More than a century ago, Sir Ernest Shackleton’s expedition ship, ‘Endurance’, was crushed by ice in the Weddell Sea and sank 3000 metres below the surface.
The Weddell Sea Expedition faces considerable challenges operating in one of the most remote and harshest marine environments on the planet.