Captain Cook’s Ship Found

The shipwreck of the historic HMS Endeavour may have been recently found in Rhode Island’s Newport Harbor.

The 100 foot long oak ship was sailed by Captain James Cook during his first voyage to Australia. During that journey he wrecked it upon a coral reef. Cook and his crew were able to return the Endeavour to England with great difficulty. For his later Pacific journeys Cook was granted a new ship, the HMS Resolution. The Endeavour, meanwhile, took on something of a second life. It was refitted as a naval transport and deployed to the Falkland Islands in 1772, sold in 1775, and renamed the Lord Sandwich. During 1778 in the heat of the American Revolutionary War, the Sandwich was scuttled along with 13 other ships in an effort to block French ships from reaching Rhode Island to assist the Americans.

Of those 13 ships, five have recently been found by the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP). One of the five is the Endeavour, but it remains unclear exactly which of them it may be. RIMAP requires more funding to find and store waterlogged artifacts from the ship which could help in identifying them. The work is extremely difficult; according to lead investigator Dr Kathy Abbass, “Divers battle very poor visibility and lots of silt, which is hard to remove and risky to do, because it has essentially been protecting the wood of these ships for hundreds of years.” Actually raising the ships from the water is even more expensive, and is unlikely to happen.

The connection to Cook means that this find has special significance for Australian history. In fact, the Australian government has been helping fund this investigation. RIMAP is not currently accepting donations over the internet; as of May 19th, they are working on it.

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