One of the most famous ships in human history might have finally been rediscovered off the coast of Rhode Island, and historians around the world are hyped.
Last seen in 1778, the legendary Endeavour ferried Captain James Cook on his first voyage to Australia and New Zealand in the late 1700s - a journey that would change the world forever.
Now archaeologists from the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP), have announced that they’re 80 to 100 percent certain it’s among the remains of five shipwrecks uncovered off the coast of Newport in Narragansett Bay, and are now attempting to salvage the remains.
At its peak, HMS Endeavour had an illustrious career as a British exploration vessel, escorting Captain Cook to New Zealand for the first time, before landing him in Eastern Australia (then New Holland) in 1770.
After getting caught up in Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef, the British explorer sailed north and then west to complete what would become the first of two global circumnavigations.
"A year later he again set off in search of the 'Unknown Southern Land'," National Geographic reports. "He spent much of 1772–75 sailing the high southern latitudes fighting pack ice and storms. He came within 150 miles [241 km] of Antarctica and, though he never saw it, continued to believe in its existence."
Unfortunately for the Endeavour, exploration vessels don’t exactly have the best retirement plans to look forward to, no matter how iconic they turn out to be.
Having returned to England in 1771, the ship was left docked and forgotten for years, before being sold and then repurchased by the British Royal Navy when they needed ships for the Revolutionary War. At this point, it was renamed the Lord Sandwich - a name that’s far more hilarious now than it was back then.
After serving Queen and country in the war, the Lord Sandwich was unceremoniously scuttled (the nice way of saying blown up and sunk because it’s no longer needed) off the coast of Rhode Island in 1778.
"The RIMAP has mapped nine archaeological sites of the 13 ships that were scuttled in Newport Harbour in 1778 during the American Revolution," the archaeologists announced today.
"One group of five ships included the Lord Sandwich transport, formerly Captain James Cook’s Endeavour. RIMAP now knows the general area of Newport Harbour where those five ships were scuttled."
The team has yet to formally publish their findings - they’re in the process of diving down and searching for artefacts that could identify and distinguish the five shipwrecks, one of which they’re almost positive is the Endeavour.
So we’re closer than ever to confirming the final resting place of one of history’s most significant ships, what happened to the captain himself?
While returning home from an exploration journey in 1779, Cook was killed by the locals in the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii) on February 14. "In an honour ritual believed to express how highly regarded he was by the Hawaiians, his heart was eaten by the four most powerful chiefs," National Geographic recounts.
The RIMAP team is expected to make a follow-up announcement shortly about what they’ve found. Hopefully there'll be artefacts in there that are as well-preserved as this incredible find.