Researchers from the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP) have discovered a shipwreck off the Atlantic Coast that just might solve a centuries-old nautical mystery.
In 1770, Captain James Cook’s HMS Endeavor became the first Western ship to reach the East Coast of Australia. Cook circumnavigated the globe on the famed ship between 1768 and 1771.
Four years after Cook’s voyage, the Endeavor was sold and renamed Lord Sandwich 2, serving as a British troop transport during the American War of Independence. Three years later, it was scuttled along with 12 other ships in an effort to blockade the harbor at Narragansett Bay. In the aftermath of the war, the Endeavor was never recovered.
In the 1990s, RIMAP Executive Director Kathy Abbass and her team discovered records of the sunken ships, including the Endeavor. These records helped the researchers narrow down their search for the wreck to a handful of potential sites. As of this year, they’ve further narrowed their search to just “one or two archaeological sites.”
According to RIMAP, the most promising site is near Goat Island, a small island in Narragansett Bay that is part of the city of Newport, Rhode Island. Now, a shipwreck has been found there that just might be the Endeavor. An excavation of the wreck uncovered artifacts and a ship structure that are consistent with the Endeavor’s 18th-century design.
Along with its partners, the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM) and the Silent World Foundation (SWF), RIMAP announced the results of their study of the wreck. They also released 3D scanning data and 3D images of some of the wreck’s exposed timbers.
Although the site looks very promising, the researchers emphasized that they’ll need to conduct more studies to determine whether the wreck is in fact the Endeavor.
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