How They Found the Shipwreck Endurance

Season 2 • Episode 7

In 1914, British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s historic expeditiontoAntarctica stalled when floating ice trapped, crushed, and finally sank his ship, Endurance. Shackleton’s men survived 21 months on the ice, alone and freezing,became one of the most incredible adventure stories ever recorded.

But the ship itself, Endurance, was not seen again for 107 years. Every attempt to find it wound up thwarted by exactly the same enemy: crushing sheets of pack ice. 

Finally, in 2022, an international team of explorers and scientists found the wreck—and it’s in absolutely pristine condition. 

This is the story of how they found it.

Episode transcript


Theme begins.

Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 expedition to Antarctica is one of the most astonishing adventure stories of all time. A ship crushed and sunk by surging walls of ice. A crew stranded on floating ice for almost 2 years. An 800-mile journey by lifeboat. A heroic rescue. And then a century of trying to find the shipwreck.

Nico: [00:04:29] It has been said that this is the most unreachable wreck to find. And I must admit that is absolutely true, because, in fact, the real issue it is, is the ice. 

In 2022, an international team of explorers found Ernest Shackleton’s ship—the Endurance. And today, they’ll tell us how they did it. 

I’m David Pogue, and this is “Unsung Science.”

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Season 2, Episode 7: How They Found the Shipwreck Endurance.

Could someone PLEASE tell me how the story of Ernest Shackleton has never become a movie? I mean, how is this not the greatest adventure ever told?

Heroic theme music begins!

1914: British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton planned to become the first man to cross the Antarctic continent. As he later wrote in his memoir:

SHACK: The first crossing of the Antarctic continent, from sea to sea via the Pole, will be a journey of great scientific importance. The distance will be roughly 1800 miles. Every step will be an advance in geographical science. 

According to legend, he put this ad in the Times of London: 

SHACK: Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.

Shackleton was famously charismatic and persuasive. He got his 28 men, all right; they called him “the Boss.”

But he still needed a ship. And he heard about an amazing, brand-newBarquentine ship, painted white and gold, sitting in a Norwegian shipyard. She was a beauty: Built from oak and Norwegian fir, with a hull 52 inches thick, made to withstand polar conditions. She’s got three masts plus a 350-horepower coal-fired steam engine. And her name…was Polaris.

Bet you didn’t see that coming!

Two Norwegian explorers had commissioned Polaris’s construction—but before they could make the final payments, they got into a spat, and the band broke up. So Ernest Shackleton swooped in and bought the ship for a song. 

He retrofitted the middle deck for cargo. He repainted the ship black. He equipped her with three rowboats, each around 22 feet long. 

Finally, he renamed her. Inspired by his family motto, Fortitudine vincimus (“By endurance we conquer”), he dubbed her Endurance… with no idea how prophetic that name would turn out to be.

Only one sign of the ship’s original decoration remained: A metal five-pointed star on the stern.

On October 26, 1914,Endurance set sail from Buenos Aires. It carried 28 men and 69 sled dogs. 

In December, the Endurance entered the Weddell Sea, between the tip of South America and the Antarctic continent. The Weddell is one cold, nasty body of water. It’s famous for thick, long-lasting packs of sea ice held in place by a massive circulating current. 

Lasse: [00:09:31] The Weddell Sea is the only region in Antarctica where the ice survives the summer melt.

Meet polar researcher Lasse Rabenstein.

Pogue: [00:00:49] / should I pronounce it the the German way? Should I say Rabenstein? 

Lasse: / I think most native English native speakers say Rabenstein. / The translation would be Ravenstone, actually. /

Pogue: [00:01:19] Oh, that’s wild. Well, Pogue is Gaelic for kiss, so that used to help me out with blind dates. /

I think you’d have a hard time finding anyone who knows more about sea ice than Lasse.

Lasse: [00:11:35] /ice is very dynamic. Ice is pushed around by the wind. /And at some point, ice can be ripped apart. It can push together again. And then ice ridges pile up. / you cannot imagine it like a frozen lake at home in winter, which is nice and smooth/.  it’s an impassable terrain, almost. It’s full of ice ridges. 

That effect spelled doom for Endurance. Here’s how Shackleton described the morning of January 19th, 1915.

 SHACK: The ice had closed around the ship during the night, packed heavily and firmly all round the Endurance in every direction as far as the eye could reach from the masthead. There was nothing to be done till the conditions changed, and we waited through the succeeding days with increasing anxiety.

They were agonizingly close to their goal.

SHACK: Land was in sight to the east and south, about sixteen miles distant.

The men tried ramming their way out, sawing their way out, chiseling their way out. In the end, all they could do was wait it out. Hope for a thaw or another gale to move the ice away.

The men and the dogs lived on their pinned ship for ten months. Shackleton was not only a charismatic personality—he also turned out to be something of a mental-health genius. He knew that it would be essential to prevent his men from falling into despair, giving up hope, turning on him and each other. 

So he structured the days. He established routines, assignments, events. There were soccer games on the ice, and hockey games. They went cross-country skiing. They kept up with their scientific sampling. They put on shows in the evenings, with bits of costumes and music from the record player. They gave each other haircuts and held sled-dog races.

SHACK: …and on the 15th of the month a great race, the “Antarctic Derby,” took place. It was a notable event. The betting had been heavy, involving stores of chocolate and cigarettes.

They posed for photos and videos taken by crew photographer Frank Hurley. Go to YouTube and look at some of Hurley’s stuff—it’s incredible footage. I mean, it’s from 1915—it’s all in black-and-white—but the footage is super sharp, and you really get a sense of those months of waiting.

By October, the ice was crushing the ship. The Boss realized that the smart thing to do was to unload all the food and supplies and set up a camp on the ice.

SHACK: The floes, with the force of millions of tons of moving ice behind them, were simply annihilating the ship. After long months of ceaseless anxiety and strain, the end of the Endurance has come. Butwe are alive and well, and we have stores and equipment for the task that lies before us. The task is to reach land with all the members of the Expedition.

LASSE: / the forces on the ship got thicker and got larger. And at some point, it just reached the limit of what the ship could withstand. / the ship just sinks down to the bottom of the ocean. /

On November 21, 1915, the ship went down. Shackleton ordered the ship’s flag hoisted up the mast so that she’d go down “with colors flying.”

SHACK: No ship built by human hands could have withstood the strain.She went down bows first, her stern raised in the air, and the ice closed over her forever. Without her, our destitution seems more emphasized, our desolation more complete. 

They set up five flimsy tents on an ice flow.By April 1916—a year and 3 months since getting stuck—the weather was getting warmer, and the ice flows were beginning to thaw.You might think that’d be good news! But then—

SHACK: At 11 a.m., our floe suddenly split right across under the boats. The crack had cut through the site of my tent. I stood on the edge of the new fracture, and, looking across the widening channel of water, could see the spot where for many months my head and shoulders had rested when I was in my sleeping-bag. How fragile and precarious had been our resting-place! Our home was being shattered under our feet, and we had a sense of loss and incompleteness hard to describe.

How is this story not a movie?

They needed to find solid ground. Shackleton loaded up the Endurance’s three lifeboats with supplies, crammed all 28 men onto them, and set out for a little uncharted, rock of land called Elephant Island, about 100 miles away. It took them a week, through stormy seas and dangerous icebergs. 

SHACK: The temperature was 20° below freezing-point. We had now had one hundred and eight hours of toil, tumbling, freezing, and soaking, with little or no sleep. 

On April 15, they became the first humans ever to set foot on Elephant Island—their first solid ground in 497 days. They were ecstatic.

SHACK: The men were reeling about the beach as if they had found an unlimited supply of alcoholic liquor on the desolate shore. They were laughing uproariously, picking up stones and letting handfuls of pebbles trickle between their fingers like misers gloating over hoarded gold. The smiles and laughter, which caused cracked lips to bleed afresh, made me think of that glittering hour of childhood when the door is open at last and the Christmas-tree in all its wonder bursts upon the vision. 

Elephant Island had fresh water and plenty of seals and penguins to eat. But they still had no ship, no shelter besides their upside-down lifeboats, and no way to communicate with the rest of the world. 

SHACK: Privation and exposure had left their mark on the party, and the health and mental condition of several men were causing me serious anxiety. Then the food-supply was a vital consideration. 

A boat journey in search of relief was necessary and must not be delayed; that conclusion was forced upon me. 

Shackleton chose four of his healthiest men to accompany him on a trip to South Georgia Island, over 800 miles away. There was actually a closer outpost—but reaching it meant sailing 540 miles into the raging winds. He had the ship’s carpenter rig up the biggest rowboat with makeshift sails, to take advantage of the winds blowing toward South Georgia Island. 

The Boss appointed ship’s captain Frank Wild in charge of the 22 men who would remain on Elephant Island. Then he loaded up the boat with supplies and 36 gallons of water, and set sail to get help. 

SHACK: The perils of the proposed journey were extreme. The ocean south of Cape Horn in the middle of May is known to be the most tempestuous storm-swept area of water in the world. The weather then is unsettled, and the gales are almost unceasing. We had to face these conditions in a small and weather-beaten boat.

We’re talking hurricane-force winds, subzero temperatures, and the 60-foot waves known as the Cape Horn Rollers.

SHACK: Real rest we had none. We were cold, sore, and anxious.We fought the seas and the winds and at the same time had a daily struggle to keep ourselves alive. 

How is this not a movie?

Finally, after 17 days at sea and then 36 hours crossing the rugged island on foot, they reached the whaling station on May 20, 1916—frostbitten, stringy-haired, gaunt, and haggard.

SHACK: The thought that there might be women at the station made us painfully conscious of our uncivilized appearance. Our beards were long and our hair was matted. We were unwashed and the garments that we had worn for nearly a year without a change were tattered and stained. 

Close to the station, we met two small boys ten or twelve years of age. I asked these lads where the manager’s house was situated. They ran from us as fast as their legs would carry them. 

Only two hours later, though, the men were warmed, fed, cleaned up, and dressed in new clothes—a radical transformation. It was only the next day that they learned that a World War was raging.

SHACK: We were like men arisen from the dead to a world gone mad. Our minds accustomed themselves gradually to the tales of nations in arms, of deathless courage and unimagined slaughter, of vast red battlefields. The reader may not realize quite how difficult it was for us to envisage nearly two years of the most stupendous war of history. 

But now, Shackleton had only one fixation: The 22 men he’d left behind.

SHACK: My mind was bent upon the rescue of the party on Elephant Island, for whom by this time I entertained very grave fears.

Over the next three months, Shackleton made three attempts to return to Elephant Island in three different ships; each voyage failed. 

SHACK: Our ancient enemy the pack was lying in wait, and within twenty miles of the island, the trawler was stopped by an impenetrable barrier of ice.

Finally, on August 30, 1916, he reached Elephant Island on his fourth attempt—a year and a half since the Endurance had gotten stuck.

SHACK: At 11.40 a.m., we saw tiny black figures hurry to the beach and wave signals to us. I recognized Wild. As I came nearer, I called out, “Are you all well?” and he answered, “We are all well, Boss,” and then I heard three cheers. Wild had husbanded the scanty stock of food as far as possible and had fought off the devils of despondency and despair on that little sand-spit. 

Not a single man perished on the Endurance expedition. They arrived in Chile to a hero’s welcome, with 30,000 fans cheering them in the streets.

Once they’d recovered their health back in the U.K., virtually the entire crew joined the British military to fight in the war. 

But Shackleton didn’t go home immediately. His first mission was to join the rescue party for the Ross Sea Party. 

If  whole story weren’t incredible enough, get this: there was a second part of the Shackleton expedition whose crew also wound up stranded on the ice. And nobody knows this part!

Shackleton’s master plan involved a second ship, arriving on the other side of Antarctica. Its crew was supposed to leave stashes of food and fuel along the final quarter of Shackleton’s planned journey, so Shackleton’s gang wouldn’t have to carry so much. Incredibly, this team also wound up stranded for about two years. They also finally got rescued, although three of the ten men died. Read up on the Ross Sea Party some time.

After the war, Shackleton made plans to return to the Antarctic on yet another voyage—but he never got any closer than South Georgia Island. There, he suffered a heart attack and died—January 5, 1922. He was 47.

For the next 107 years, Ernest Shackleton’s doomed voyage—and the crew’s incredible survival—became the stuff of legend. There were books…TV shows… documentaries…although for some reason, no movie!

And nobody ever saw the ship itself again. For a lot of explorers, Endurance is the Holy Grail of shipwrecks. And it shouldn’t be that hard to find—we know where it went down.

Pogue: [00:36:53] / supposedly Captain Worsley, at the time, marked the position of the ship when it went down. And we have those notes. So why is it so difficult, why has it taken until now to find the Endurance? 

Lasse: [00:37:21] There are several reasons. So first, it is a big effort to go to this region because of the ice. So you need a good ship. You need a lot of money. / 

The second—/the ice drifts all the time. / they might have traveled a couple of nautical miles just with the ice, but the Frank Worsley didn’t notice this, because you don’t feel the drift off the ice. 

I guess there’s not a ton of suspense about whether or not Shackleton’s ship was ever found—you’ve probably noticed the title of this episode. But after the break, you’ll find out how, at last, the Endurance was found.

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Welcome back!

Over the decades, people have made various attempts to find the wreck of the Endurance in Antarctica’s Weddell Sea. Most of them ran out of money, the economy tanked, whatever. It’s an expensive proposition to find the Endurance—because it’s really hard to find.

Nico: [00:04:29] It has been said that this is the most unreachable wreck to find. And I must admit that is absolutely true, because, in fact, the real issue it is, is the ice. / 

Nico Vincente is a veteran undersea explorer. He’s spent 20 years finding various famous sunken ships, submarines, and planes. So when a well-equipped, well-funded expedition finally set off in 2019, Nico was paying close attention.

A History Channel film crew the was on board, hoping hoped to document the discovery. 

NARR: Somewhere in these frozen seas lies the Holy Grail of shipwrecks: the Endurance. / But it’s so hard to get to that no one’s ever been able to hunt for the wreck—until now.

Here, the sea floor plunges down 40 times the height of Niagara Falls, to a depth of 10,000 feet. / And the crew believes that this plain is the final resting round of Shackleton’s ship.

This expedition chartered the Agulhas II: a sleek, red, state-of-the-art, 440-foot-long South African icebreaker. She’s got accommodations for 100, onboard laboratories, a gym, a sauna, an auditorium, a library, and a helicopter landing pad. And in 2019, it carried a very special search tool.

Nico: [00:06:15] / they came in 2019 with the state of the art of underwater, autonomous underwater vehicle, which is absolutely the best vehicle which is used now in open water. / 

That word he’s saying is “vehicle.” I’m not making fun of his pronunciation—trust me; his English is much better than my French.

Anyway, the vehicle in question looks like a bright orange, 20-foot torpedo. 

NARR: The propellers bite, and the AUV dives.

But Nico Vincente points out that this AUV is an autonomous vehicle. You pre-program it and then set it loose. And if anything goes wrong…

Nico: (Con’t) Unfortunately, /this kind of vehicle, once you have any issue, / the basic solution for them is to do an emergency ascent. /

Pogue: [00:07:28] Aha. But when there’s ice…

Nico: [00:07:31] Then when you are on ice, it’s quite more complicated, because if you lose contact with the vehicle and do an emergency ascent, then you’re losing the vehicle/. 

That is precisely what happened.

NARR: 30 hours into the dive, the AUV that scans the sea floor has gone missing. / If they can’t reconnect, they’ll never find out what’s below.  / As conditions worsen, the team makes a difficult call. / The team halts their mission and reluctantly returns home.

The 2019 crew never saw the AUV again. It’s lost forever it under all that ice.The History Channel documentary about that expedition wound up being very short.

For Nico, though, the 20109 expedition’s failure to find Endurance has its useful aspects. He was able to hire a member of its team for a new attempt, called Endurance22.

Nico: [00:05:29] / she produced a, a lesson learned report on this. And this lesson learned report has been my Bible for over two years to build a new solution for Endurance22. And without this, without this report, I think that we will never find the Endurance. /

The first big lesson: No more untethered underwater vehicles, which don’t give their data until they come back to your ship.

Nico: [00:07:31]So the first decision /  immediately came in my mind that we need to tether the vehicle and to have a real time feedback about what’s going on. /And it has been really is a game changer between 2019 and 2022. 

For the 2022 mission, the Agulhas II was once again the support ship. But this time, the star of the show was an underwater vehicle made by Saab called the Sabretooth. It’s a yellow rectangular slab, like a big metal sled: 12 feet long, 5 feet wide, 2 feet thick. It’s ordinarily sold to, for example, oil companies to inspect their deep-sea oil rigs.

Not only is the Sabretooth tethered to the support ship with a cable, but it’s also a hybrid. It converts between an autonomous underwater vehicle that executes a prewritten program, and a robotic one, that you drive by remote control.

NICO: [00:09:04]You push a switch and / you take control, on remote control on it. / So it’s / quite practical if you are have an emergency situation with the vehicle./

Pogue: [00:11:59] / So did you wind up using both modes of the Sabertooth? Did you—

Nico: [00:12:08] Oh yes. We, we used both. / over Endurance22 expedition, we made 32 dives. Over these 32 dives, we got eight emergency ascents. 

Pogue: Wow. 

Nico: So we have been obliged to face unexpectation eight times./

Pogue: [00:13:37] What sorts of things would go wrong that would need an emergency ascent?

Nico: [00:13:43] Oh, my God. You have a day? / for example, / You are too far, or not on the good direction. / you are too far where the level of battery is too low. / and we got a few times that work on recovery just by towing the vehicle back to the vessel because the vehicle was almost empty of power. 

Pogue: [00:15:07] Oh, man. So the tether is strong enough to pull the thing back onboard? 

Nico: [00:15:12] / it’s just a fiberoptic of 3.5 millimeters with some Kevlar around. /So you may pull on it, but you have to be careful to not pull / too strong to not break the tether, because the breaking strength is quite low. 

The expedition departed from Cape Town, South Africa, on February 5, 2022, led by John Shears and Mensun Bound. Nico Vincent was aboard as the head of the underwater operations, and the chief scientist was our friend Lasse Rabenstein.

The ten-day journey to the Weddell Sea was wild. 

Lasse: [00:24:43] / We had to cross the Roaring Forties and the Wild Fifties. I don’t know if you’d know that term for the southern latitudes. / although we had summer conditions. / I think the highest wave you had is six meters./

Pogue: [00:25:17] Six meters is still very tall for waves. 

Lasse: Yeah, that’s true. But /we wanted to be fast, because/  the charter was limited. So we didn’t want to lose a day.  

Oh, yeah—about the time limit. An anonymous donor contributed $10 million to this journey, which was organized by a nonprofit called the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust. 

The team had chartered the Agulhas II for five weeks, with an optional ten-day extension; after that, the ship had to go to its next job. So time was of the essence.

Pogue: [00:24:02] Now, I have a very small question for you. How did you find it? 

Nico: [00:24:39] Okay. So that’s helping to have a small, small box. /

The search box is the rectangle of sea floor that they hoped to search. It measured 8 by 15 miles, and it was based on the Endurance’s final position as recorded by navigator Frank Worsley.

Nico: [00:25:08] / And believe me, believe me, Worsley made a sextant position absolutely, absolutely accurate. So we are extremely close from, from its last known position. 

The difficulties came by the fact that usually when you cover a search box, you go from point A to point B and you have a task plan. /Here in the Weddell Sea, it has been quite more complicated because due to ice, you cannot go from point A to point B. So we have been obliged to, to make the sub-boxes for each dive and dive where the ice allows us/. 

In other words, ideally, they’d search the box sequentially, from left to right, in long parallel lines. But because of those doggone ice sheets, they had to search random mini-boxes within the search box, getting in around the moving ice sheets as best they could.

That wasn’t the only tricky part. The Sabertooth can carry either payload it needs for long-range searches, or the payload it needs for close-up inspection—but not both at the same time.

Nico: [00:42:03] / So we got one setting for long range search, / where the, the primary sensor was a side scan sonar, / And then for inspection we remove the sonar, / and install in place the LIDAR, the 4K cameras, the 4K broadcast cameras, and all devices for the inspection. 

Side-scan sonar is a machine that blasts out audio pings, and then measures the echoes, stitches the data together, to produce images of big objects under water. I happen to know this… because my great-uncle was one of the inventors back in the 50s.

Pogue: [00:43:07] / I don’t know if you know the name Professor Harold Edgerton./

Nico: Yeah, of course. 

Pogue: My grandmother’s brother. 

Nico: Oh, my God! 

Pogue: Yeah, Uncle Harold. 

Nico: I’m very impressed. 

Pogue: [00:43:41] / when I was growing up, he was—he and Jacques Cousteau took, took a prototype to Loch Ness to look for the monster. 

Nico: Indeed. 

Pogue: That was—everyone was talking about that in my family. They didn’t find it. But yeah. 

Nico: Nessie is very shy. 

Anyway. On the Endurance22 mission, a lot of things went right. The ice was forgiving.

Lasse: [00:08:22] / we were super lucky. We needed to go / only ten nautical miles through heavy ice, and all the—in almost all the years before, we had to travel 100, 250 nautical miles through heavy ice. 

Also, the storms held off.Also, the Sabretooth sub worked really well. And, for Lasse Rabenstein, the BIG lucky break—was the crew’s health.

Lasse: [00:41:33] /It’s not self granted that you have 110 people on board and there was no large COVID outbreak or so on board. / that was the biggest threat to the expedition maybe in the end, not the ice. 

Pogue: Wow. 

Lasse: Oh, but it went well. We were lucky. 

There was really only one little thing that didn’t go especially well: they could not find the dang shipwreck!

The five weeks had gone by—30 Sabretooth dives—with no sign of Endurance. The expedition managers invoked their 10-day extension on the Agulhas charter so they could keep looking. 

And now they were eight days into the ten-day extension period, and they still had not found Endurance.

Lasse: (cont’d) / the search box, / where we thought the wreck would be in, was 80% already scanned. And we had only two days left before the captain and the owner of the ship ordered us back to Cape Town in South Africa. /

But then, on March 5, 2022…the sonar picked up something.

Nico: [00:39:10] / the guys /  called me, so I joined them/. So I saw the high resolution images immediately with them, which has been a dream. /

Nico asked if they could drive the Sabretooth around to get a quick video on the Sabretooth’s built-in camera, to confirm that the bulky object was in fact a ship and not, you know, a big rock.

Nico: (Con’t) the AUV pilot was claiming that we are already too low on batteries and asking to end the dive. But I pushed, I pushed, I pushed to have the visual inspection, just a few seconds to be sure that we are talking about wood/. 

Not only was the object made of wood—it was, in fact, the Endurance. 

Pogue: [00:21:59] / Do you remember the first time you heard that they had spotted it? 

Lasse: [00:22:07] Yeah. /as a chief scientist, I had a radio, and I could listen to some of the other communications on board. And then I heard that the head of exploration—the chief—the head of the expedition, John Shears, they were ordered on the bridge to meet with Nico/. And I was already like, something is happening. 

[00:23:57] And then /  at dinner, a lot of people had already a smile on their face. And I think most people knew it already, although it was only official after dinner that day that they found it. 

Once they’d equipped Sabretooth with its high-resolution cameras and sent it back to the spot, they found even better news: The shipwreck was pristine. It looked incredible. It wasn’t rotted, or rusty, or eaten, or degraded; some parts of the hull looked almost fresh from the shipyard.

Lasse: [00:18:21] / we were all really surprised. Also, the head of exploration, who has seen hundreds of shipwrecks in his life—/ He never has seen a shipwreck like this before, he told us, in that good condition. 

Pogue: [00:14:51] / I mean, it looks like it’s in a museum, that the wood looks brand new. 

Lasse: [00:15:29] Yeah. / because there’s no light, there’s no or no organic—lot of organic activity down there. It’s not a lot of sedimentation. So in the last hundred years, it was maybe, I don’t know, a centimeter of sediment / was falling down on the ship. It’s almost nothing. And yeah, it’s, it’s just a very good environment down there to conserve a shipwreck. 

In most oceans, sea organisms would ordinarily much away at sunken wood, decomposing it. But not here.

Lasse: [00:16:50] / there is one certain worm which is, which is, is the cause for for like organic erosion or so which eats wood, for example. So in lower latitudes, many shipwrecks suffering from this worm, I heard. /And this animal does not exist in Antarctica. 

Pogue: [00:46:18] Well, what happened on board? Was there champagne and yelling? 

Nico: [00:46:24] It’s a dry vessel, so no champagne. Uh—. 

Pogue: [00:46:27] Awww. 

Nico: [00:46:31] / But, no, it was—I think that it was a huge relief for everybody, because / we got exactly 22 days on site to cover—to toto find the Endurance, and, and we discovered her on day 20. 

Pogue: [00:47:07] So you really might have missed it. 

Nico: Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Pogue: [00:44:06] / was it emotional or less emotional, because you pretty much knew you’d find it? 

Nico: / you can never be sure that you will find it. Never, okay? So the certainty to find your target is nil. You will always, always have some unknown. 

But so finding the Endurance, the most unreachable wreck of the world, its, it’s really, really an achievement. I think it’s a climax in my life /. 

In their last two days at sea, the crew sent the Sabertooth back to the shipwreck to capture a high-resolution 3-D scan. 

Nico: [00:19:50] we got a 4K still camera linked with a laser, a Lidar laser. And these sensors will allow us to make a facsimile in 3D of the wreck. / and we expect soon to have a result so accurate and so clean that anybody in the world can walk on the deck of the Endurance with VR glasses. So we expect this data very soon and it will be absolutely amazing. 

Pogue: [00:49:13] /So what happens now? Now that we know where it is, do people talk about artifacts, bringing back? Do they talk about putting people inside a submersible? 

Nico: [00:49:29] Well, putting people inside submersible—I do not recommend it, except if you want some bad news on the, on the TV. I mean, I don’t say it’s impossible, but it will be quite complicated and will require a very expensive expedition./

[00:50:57] About the wreckage.  / The wreck is protected by the Antarctic Treaty. / recovering artifact / is forbidden by the Antarctic Treaty. / And it’s one of the reasons why we produced this data, / to build this facsimile of the wreck, to be able to show everything at a higher resolution that we can—we expect to one millimeter resolution. 

[00:50:57]/(moved from earlier) So there is a lot to study and learn of Endurance, to make. I mean, it’s far, far to be, to be over. / 

The discovery of the Endurance made headlines all over the world. The photos blew people’s minds—because until they were published, no human being had ever seen a color photo of Endurance.

MONTAGE of news reports!

Lasse: [00:47:50] / Sometimes I can’t believe it, actually, that I when I read the story now, that I’m kind of—somehow I’m part of this story now, 100 years later, that feels weird. /

[00:42:48] / when I returned home, I mean, / people told me, like, “I’ve seen you in The New York Times, and I saw a photo in another German newspaper,” and so on. /

Pogue: [00:43:43] Yeah!

Lasse: [00:43:44] It was a little bit overwhelming for me as well, I have to say. I didn’t expect that it got this much attention. /

Pogue: [00:43:56] /did anyone recognize you on the street? “Hey, you’re that guy!”

Lasse: [00:44:01] No, not yet. / Fortunately, I can still go to the supermarket without being asked for it. /

I still remember the day I first saw that stunning photo of the Enduranceon the New York Times home page. It shows the stern, with the word ENDURANCE arced across the transom—and that original Polaris five-pointed star shining in the sub’s reflected headlamps. I swear to you, my breath stopped. It was like some mythological object, suddenly made real.Like if somebody found the actual Excalibur sword at a garage sale in Cincinnati.

The Holy Grail of shipwrecks has been found—and it’s a beauty. Sir Shackleton took good care of her for as long as he could—and, according to Nico Vincente,maybe even longer.

Nico: [00:47:09] I have a very, very great story to share with you. 

We found, we found the wreck, uh, on 5th of March 2022. Which is precisely 100 years after the burial of Ernest Shackleton in South Georgia. 

That’s right. They found the Endurance on on March 5, 1922—100 years to the day after Sir Shackleton had that fatal heart attack in South Georgia.

But not just 100 years to the day.

Nico: But it’s more than that. We found the wreck at, like, few minutes after 4 p.m, okay? And we are doing some research about the burial of, of Sir Ernest Shackleton, and we are aware that the ceremony started at 3 p.m. /  that may be precisely day per day or at the hour we found the wreck, precisely when Sir Ernest Shackleton had been buried in, in South Georgia. 

Pogue: [00:48:43] It’s—that’s, that’s nuts. That’s crazy. Nico: [00:48:45] /so we are pretty sure that the Boss was just looking at us, over the shoulder, to just give his permission to find her.