Marine archaeologists have announced that they may have solved a mystery dating back 200 years to the loss of Captain Cook’s ship, Endeavor. The announcement comes after a decade of underwater exploration.
Captain Cook’s Endeavor was built in Whitby for the purpose of carrying coal from the north east of England to London. However, Captain Cook made the fateful decision to take the ship on a voyage around the world. At first all was well, as Captain Cook set sail in 1768 and claimed Australia and New Zealand for the British Empire in 1770. He piloted the Endeavor until 1771 during all of his explorations of the South Pacific.
Captain Cook was a British Naval officer who had explored more of the world than anyone else in history. He sailed Endeavor back to England, stopping over in South Africa. He explored the Antarctic as well. His explorations provided the first accurate map of the Pacific Ocean. In fact, Captain Cook is believed to have shaped a greater share of the world map than any other person.
Captain Cook was murdered by islanders in Hawaii in 1779. He and his men had exploited the local Hawaiians, who initially regarded the men as gods. When this proved to be untrue, they turned on Cook, leading to his demise.
His ship was retrofitted as a troop transport ship by the Royal Navy. Renamed the “Lord Sandwich.” Lord Sandwich was the first lord of the admiralty at the time. The Endeavor was active throughout the Revolutionary War, and in 1778 blocked French ships bound for America from entering Narragansett Bay, capturing Newport for the British.
Its fate after that is murky, with many believing it was sunk off the coast of Newport, Rhode Island. The British sunk 13 ships to stop the French from capturing Rhode Island. Five of the vessels were sunk together, experts now believe, with one of them being the Endeavor.
The Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP) now believes that a ship previously thought to be from the Endeavor was not Cook’s famous vessel. A chunk of wood from the other vessel went into space on the Space Shuttle Endeavor.
The team is set to announce its findings later this week. They hope their announcement will lead to additional funding sources to correctly identify the Endeavor and its mates. Kathy Abbass, spokesperson for RIMAP, described their announcement as “an important milestone.” The team is working closely with Australians, since the ship is closely aligned with the country’s history. Captain Cook’s discovery of the country is also tied to the displacement of the aboriginal natives of Australia and New Zealand.