Endurance Found

It has been over 108 years since Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton’s ship “Endurance” became trapped in pack ice while enroute from South Georgia to Antarctica, and just over a year since the discovery of the iconic ship.

Now, Deadline reports, “Oscar winners Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin and BAFTA-nominated director Natalie Hewit are boarding the National Geographic documentary ‘Endurance’” to tell the epic 2022 tale of the search and discovery of the doomed ship.

Production of the documentary is now underway, with Carolyn Bernstein, executive vice president of Documentary Films at National Geographic, saying in a press release that “We are delighted to share this inspiring story of exploration, grit and perseverance with the world. Chai and Jimmy are bold, ambitious and nuanced storytellers, perfectly cast to bring this gripping story to life, along with their exceptionally talented co-director Nat Hewit, who has a unique first-hand perspective as part of the Endurance22 expedition. We feel privileged to share this astounding discovery with audiences around the world and to dramatize the extraordinary tale of survival that started it all.”

The 2022 exploration was first organized by the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust, with the expedition led by polar geographer Dr. John Shears and marine archaeologist Mensun Bound as director of exploration.

In addition to Shears and Bound, a crew of scientists, archaeologists and a team of highly experienced extreme environment filmmakers, led by Dan Snow for his channel History Hit, was onboard the South African icebreaker Agulhas II. Leaving Cape Town on Feb. 5, 2022, the team set off on an expedition to the Weddell Sea off the coast of Antarctica where the Endurance sank, according to Variety.

Exactly one month later, the recovery team announced that it had “reached its goal,” according to Shears.

The wreck was eventually located by the team at a depth of 9,843 feet and approximately four miles south of the position originally recorded by Endurance’s captain, Frank Worsley, when it sank.

“We have made polar history with the discovery of Endurance, and successfully completed the world’s most challenging shipwreck search,” Shears said.

The Endurance remains largely preserved due to the frigid waters of the Weddell Sea — described by Shackleton as the “the worst portion of the worst sea in the world” — and the absence of wood-eating organisms.

Shackleton and his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition had aimed to be the first to cross the Antarctic continent by foot. But just two days after setting sail from South Georgia in December 1914, the Endurance became surrounded and caught in a polar pack of ice.

By early January, the ship was permanently stuck, with its passengers and crew storing up on provisions and three open lifeboats for the better part of 1915.

As the months went by, Endurance slowly submerged, and by November, it finally slipped below the sea.

“She went down bow first, her stern raised in the air. She then gave one quick dive and the ice closed over her forever,” one crewman later wrote.

Snow documented the 2022 expedition and its discovery in real-time for his History Hit viewers, telling Variety, “This has been the most exciting and challenging experience of my career so far."

Adding, "People thought the story of ‘Endurance’ was over when it sank in November 1915, but it wasn’t. This is the start of a new chapter.”

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