The recent transit of Venus, the passing of the shadow of the planet Venus across the face of the sun, brought to mind the voyage of Captain Cook in HMS Endeavour in 1768-1771. Now, archaeologists in Rhode Island believe they may have located Cook’s ship.
in 1768, Cook’s orders were to search for “Terra Australis Ignota,” the “unknown land of the South” a vast continent believed to exist in the far Southern Pacific. While he was there, he was to observe the transit of Venus on 1769 in Tahiti, to help determine the distance between the Earth, the Sun and the planet Venus. Cook’s mission on HMS Endeavour was truly a voyage of discovery on both sea and space.
After Cook’s voyage HMS Endeavour was largely forgotten. Renamed Lord Sandwich, she served as a troop transport, carried commercial cargoes and was even a prison ship for a time during the American Revolution. She was finally sunk by the Royal Navy in Narragansett Bay in August of 1778 in the blockade of Newport, RI. Recently, Dr. Kathy Abbass, the director of the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project, believes that they have located the location where the Endeavour/Lord Sandwich was scuttled.
Long-lost ship Endeavour located?
According to Dr. Kathy Abbass, director of RIMAP, the findings mean that there is now a 63 percent chance that Endeavour has been found. While work will continue in an effort to locate the remaining five sites – which may no longer exist – the priority for RIMAP now is excavation of the sites that have been located, which means that funds will be needed to create a lab in which artifacts from the sites can be analyzed, and a museum to house them. The organization, which takes no state or federal funds, has launched a capital campaign to raise the required funds.
In an interesting side note, Abbass told the story of a ship called La Liberte, which came to Newport Harbor in 1793. The ship was identified 35 years later as Endeavour, and artifacts were given to the Newport Historical Society and the Australian National Maritime Museum. RIMAP’s early research discovered that that La Liberte was not Endeavour at all, but more likely Resolution, which was Cook’s ship on his second voyage around the world. At that point it became apparent that the ship they were looking for was Lord Sandwich, one of the 13 sunken British transports.
Thanks to Alaric Bond for passing along the news.