Captain Cook’s ship, Endeavour, has finally been located after 238 years. It was a ship that led an interesting history and now hopefully part of it can at least be salvaged and preserved.
The Daily (UK) Mail reported on the find last week. The Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project discovered the ship, which they say had been scuttled in Newport Harbor in 1778 by British forces in the lead up to the Battle of Rhode Island.
Orignally named the Earl of Pembroke, the ship was launched in 1764. The British Navy purchased the ship in 1768 and remnamed it the Endeavour. The ship and crew began exploring the Pacific Ocean and to search out a previously unknown, but suspected, continent, called Terra Australis Incognita.
It found Australia and made landfall on April 29, 1770. Captain Cook charted the coastline and then returned to England, arriving in 1771, nearly three years after the ship had set sail.
Cook’s efforts won him a promotion, but the Endeavour sat in dock largely unused. It was sold to a shipping magnate in 1775. However, once war broke out, ships were needed to join in the fight. “That individual then tried to sell the ship back to the British when the demand for ships increased during the war but they would not accept the vessel given its age and what it had been through over the years,” the Daily Mail reported.
The man made major repairs to the boat and renamed it Lord Sandwich. He then offered to sell it again and this time, the Navy did buy it.
It arrived at Rhode Island to serve as a prison ship for captured Colonial soldiers. It was blown up in 1778 to try and create a blockade of the harbor. The remains of the ship were found among thirteen others that were probably scuttled for the same reason.
While I hope something can be done to preserve the ship, I don’t hold out much hope. It’s a wooden ship that has been underwater for nearly 240 years. The will be fragile.
I remember when C&O Canal boats were uncovered during construction in Cumberland, Md., they had been buried for roughly 60 years. Engineers deemed them too fragile and costly to restore so they were simply reburied.