The National Maritime Museum of Australia announced today that its experts have identified the ship sunk off the northeast coast of the United States. Endeavour, one of the most legendary ships in the history of exploration, with which the British captain James Cook explored and described in the first of his famous voyages, from 1768 to 1771, numerous territories in the Pacific, including Australia in 1770. “This it is the final resting place for one of the most important and controversial ships in Australian maritime history,” Kevin Sumption, executive director of the museum, said with emotion in a statement, stressing that since 1999 they have been searching for the famous ship among the 18th century shipwrecks recorded in the area. In 2016, researchers from the Rhode Island Marine Archeology Project (Rima) had already reported the possible location of the remains mixed with those of other ships sunk in 1778 during the US War of Independence. The Australian announcement has now sparked controversy, considering the It rhymes that it is “precipitated” and that the identified remains, although consistent with what might be expected from the EndeavorThey are not indisputable.
The Endeavor figure in the history of navigation with golden letters, along with equally mythical ships such as the Erebus and the Terror (recently found in Canada) of the ill-fated Franklin expedition, the bounty of the riot, the cutty sarkor the Victorywithout forgetting its imaginary cousins: the Hispaniola, the small or The Black Pearl. The ship that would achieve celebrity at the hands of Cook, and that for the time was like the business from star trek to us, it didn’t initially seem destined for anything important. it was a simple coler, saithe, Whitby 368 tons, launched in 1764 under the name of Earl of Peambroke. It was built according to a Norwegian model, it had little draft, and a long beam (8.9 meters) in relation to the length (32.3 meters). She did not reach more than 7 knots but she was a very solid boat to withstand rough seas and offered great capacity. That made it ideal for housing the hundred crew members, soldiers and scientists (plus farm animals and a dairy goat that had already traveled around the world) who packed it like sardines, after it was acquired by the British Royal Navy in 1768 and renamed What Endeavor, along with supplies and supplies for an exploration that would last two years and 11 months. She armed it with 10 4-pounder guns on carriages and 12 swivel guns.
Together with Cook, who was then almost unknown and had only experience in the North Atlantic, he embarked, in a private cabin and with his servants and two dogs, one of the most remarkable scientists of the time, the naturalist Joseph Banks, who did not stopped noting the up to five types of insects found on the crackers and bread on board and how the crew pined for the roast beef.
The purpose of the trip was, apparently, essentially scientific: to observe the transit of Venus in front of the sun in Tahiti, in the Society Islands (a rare event that allows important astronomical measurements). But Endeavour, whose status was military ship, It also had the secret mission of identifying and exploring, with a view to exploitation and colonization, the great mass of land that some previous testimonies placed towards the South Pole.
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The ship sailed from Plymouth on August 26, 1768, and from the Society Islands headed south to latitude 40º. Finding no land, Cook headed west, discovering and exploring the New Zealand coastline for six months, reaching Botany Bay in Australia. Cook declared on August 22, 1770, Australia as terra nullius (no man’s land) and planted the British flag. By the way, he saw a kangaroo (the skull and skin of a specimen that he took with him was the first news about the animal in Europe). Controversy surrounds his landing, considered for a long time as the first arrival of Europeans. However, there would have been sporadic visits from Spanish and Portuguese sailors before. Cook’s voyage, undoubtedly a feat of navigation, opened the door to the British colonization of Australia and the abuses against the aboriginal population – which had been unmolested for 8,000 years – and its almost extermination.
Australian maritime experts have confirmed with “archaeological and archival evidence” that the Endeavour, Of which only about 15% of its structure would remain, it is located north of Goat Island, in Newport Bay, in the State of Rhode Island. Australian and US authorities are working to secure the ship’s discovery site, according to the Australian National Maritime Museum.
According to historical documentation, the ship, sold by the Royal Navy in 1775, renamed Lord Sandwich and finally rented again by the navy as a transport for German mercenaries to fight against the American revolutionaries, it was deliberately sunk, along with other ships, by the British forces in 1778 during the War of Independence of the United States to hinder the passage of the fleet French.
Cook outlived the old Endeavor only one year; he died in 1779 in Hawaii, during his third Pacific voyage with the Resolution (which ran aground in 1794 also in Newport and remains buried under layers of earth) and the Discovery during an attack by natives on the beach where he had landed.
A replica of Endeavor sails the world and was used for the filming of Master and Commanderthe great film about the English Royal Navy starring Russell Crowe and based on the novels by Patrick O’Brian (who wrote a biography of Banks, by the way).
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.