Ship seeking Shackleton’s Endurance finds itself stuck in ice

Research vessel SA Agulhas II (IMO 9577135), which left Cape Town, South Africa on February 5th on an expedition in the Antarctic to find the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship Endurance Antarctic, found itself stuck in the ice in the Antarctic near the spot it was believed the Endurance was lost.

The team announced late in February that the vessel had reached the Weddell Sea. Temperatures dropped to minus 10C and the team had the unnerving experience of, like happened to the Endurance more than a century before, becoming stuck in the ice.

The expedition, the second by the team in three years, set out in January to search for the lost vessel, thought to lie in about 3,000 metres of water underneath the Antarctic ice shelf. The attempt in 2019 was forced to turn back after a loss of equipment. The ship reached the area of the Wendell Sea on February 16th. The following day they reported that their underwater vehicle had been deployed and had reached the seabed for the first time. On February 20th they were still reporting that the ice conditions were remaining favourable.

If the Endurance is found, the wreck will be surveyed by the Sabertooths laser scanner to produce a 3D model and full photogrammetric coverage of the wreck and its debris field. The resulting graphical data will be scaled allowing the wreck, together with its equipment, fittings, and contents, to be recorded to a level of accuracy comparable to that of an archaeological survey on land.

The expedition planned to be at sea for 35 days, but the mission could be extended up to 45 days if this was required.

2012-built, South Africa-based 12,897 gt SA Agulhas II is owned by South African Govt Affairs of Pretoria, South Africa. It is managed by Smit Amandla Marine Pty Ltd of Paardeneiland, South Africa. It is entered with Shipowners Club on behalf of African Marine Solutions Investments (Pty) Ltd.