The Martin Pollins Blog

History, economics, business, politics…and Sussex

The Story of Endurance – Frozen in Time, Rediscovered in History

The Endurance was the three-masted barquentine[2] in which Sir Ernest Shackleton and a crew of 27 men sailed for the Antarctic on the 1914–1917 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. The ship, originally named Polaris, was built at Framnæs shipyard and launched in 1912 from Sandefjord in Norway[3].

Endurance failed to reach the edge of the Antarctic continent in the Weddell Sea. It was caught in sea ice, eventually crushed, and sunk hundreds of miles from land and 3000 metres beneath the thick and unpredictable ice. The outside world knew nothing of these events until Shackleton escaped his isolation and eventually brought about the rescue of his companions.[4] He led his men across the tundra in an epic struggle for survival, battling against the odds to bring all his men out alive.

This paper covers the launch of Endurance, the decision to sail for the Antarctic, the sinking, Shackelton’s escape, the long, arduous search for the wreck and its discovery.

A picture containing transport, watercraft, sky, sailing vessel Description automatically generated
Caption: Endurance under sail trying to break through pack ice, Weddell Sea, Antarctica, 1915, by Frank Hurley, from original Paget Plate, 1914-1915 State Library New South Wales ON 26 -12
Attribution: Frank Hurley, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Page URL:
This image is available from the Catalogue of the State Library of New South Wales under the Item ID: 440135

Ernest Shackleton was knighted on 16th July 1909. He received the honour in recognition of his achievements in Antarctic exploration and leadership during the Nimrod Expedition (1907-1909).

How it all Started
The explorer Ernest Shackleton is said to have placed an advertisement in a London newspaper (The Times) to recruit personnel for his 1914 expedition to the Antarctic:

Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.”[5]

On 8th August 1914, the very day that Endurance departed from Plymouth on Shackelton’s third Antarctic expedition, he received a telegram from Winston Churchill, who was then the First Lord of the Admiralty, advising him to “proceed” with his planned Trans-Antarctic Expedition. The telegram was communicated just days after the outbreak of World War I on 3rd August 1914.

­­­The Launch: 17th December 1912
On Tuesday, 17th December 1912, Endurance was launched from the Framnæs shipyard in Sandefjord, Norway. Originally named Polaris, the ship was built as a three-masted barquentine. It was specifically designed to withstand the harsh conditions of polar exploration, with a reinforced hull and advanced ice-breaking capabilities. Those who commissioned the building of the ship failed to pay the shipyard (see below), and ever the entrepreneur, Shackelton seized the opportunity to buy it in January 1914 for his expedition to the Antarctic – it would be her first and only voyage.

The launch of Endurance was a momentous occasion, filled with anticipation and attended by notable figures in the field of exploration. The shipyard was abuzz with activity as onlookers gathered to witness the culmination of years of planning and construction. Admirers of polar exploration, fellow adventurers, and local dignitaries were present, eager to see the beginning of a remarkable journey.

As the ship slid down the slipway and into the water, the crowd erupted in cheers and applause, celebrating the birth of an expedition that would soon capture the world’s attention. Speeches were delivered, paying tribute to the crew’s bravery and ambition while emphasising their mission’s significance in pushing the boundaries of human exploration. The atmosphere was electric, with excitement and trepidation in the air, as everyone present on launch day understood the risks ahead for the crew of Endurance.

Polaris (later renamed Endurance) was initially built for Adrien de Gerlache and Lars Christensen. However, due to financial problems, Gerlache withdrew from the partnership, which left Christensen unable to make the final payments to the Framnæs shipyard and complete the ship outfitting. As Christensen struggled to sell the ship due to its unique design and limited commercial applications, he eventually sold it to Sir Ernest Shackleton in January 1914 for £14,000. This price barely covered the outstanding payments owed to the Framnæs shipyard, let alone the total costs incurred in building the ship.

Design and Construction
The design and construction of Endurance were specifically tailored to withstand the extreme conditions of polar exploration. Every detail of the ship’s construction was scrupulously planned to ensure maximum durability: for example, every joint and fitting was cross-braced for maximum strength.[6] Here’s what is known about the design and construction of the ship:

  • Ship Type: Endurance had a square-rigged foremast and mainmast, while the mizzenmast was rigged fore-and-aft.[7]
  • Reinforced Hull: To navigate through the ice-filled waters of the Antarctic, Endurance featured a reinforced hull. The ship’s hull was strengthened with thick oak planks and sheathed with greenheart, a dense and durable wood known for its strength.
  • Double-Planked Bow: The most vulnerable part of the ship when facing ice was its bow. To increase the ship’s resilience, the bow area was double-planked. This involved adding an extra layer of planking to reinforce the structure and better withstand impacts from ice.
  • Steam Engine: Besides its sails, Endurance was equipped with a steam engine, primarily used to assist the ship in manoeuvring through ice and in calm or unfavourable wind conditions. The engine was 350 hp (260 kW) and coal-fired, making the ship capable of speeds up to 10.2 kn (18.9 km/h; 11.7 mph).[8]
  • Cargo Capacity: The ship was designed with a large cargo capacity to accommodate the necessary supplies and equipment for the Antarctic expedition. It had ample storage space for provisions, scientific instruments, sledges, and other equipment required for polar exploration.
  • Accommodation: Endurance had living quarters for the crew, including sleeping quarters, a mess hall, and various compartments for storage. The ship was designed to provide the crew with basic amenities necessary for survival during their extended polar journey.

At the time of her launch in 1912, Endurance was arguably the strongest wooden ship ever built, except Fram, the vessel used by Fridtjof Nansen and later by Roald Amundsen. There was one major difference between the ships. Fram was bowl-bottomed, which meant that if the ice closed in against her, the ship would be squeezed up and out and not be subject to the pressure of the compressing ice. Endurance, on the other hand, was not intended to be frozen into heavy pack ice and so was not designed to rise out of a crush.[9] It was observed on Shackelton’s expedition that Endurance instead tended to resist being crushed by floes until the ice cracked to relieve the pressure.[10]

Constructed in Norway and originally named Polaris, the ship was later renamed Endurance by Sir Ernest Shackleton, inspired by the Shackleton family motto “Fortitudine Vincimus(By endurance, we conquer). The ship underwent extensive preparations and outfitting to ensure it was well-equipped for the challenging expedition ahead.

It’s important to note that the construction and design of Endurance were remarkable for their time, as they aimed to withstand the harsh conditions of polar exploration. But despite the strengthening of the ship’s hull and prior knowledge of how dangerous and unpredictable the Antarctic’s conditions were, the challenges Endurance met were too much.

Top Five Men on the Expedition
The top five men on the Endurance expedition were:

  • Sir Ernest Shackleton (in full, Major Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton CVO OBE FRGS FRSGS) (1874-1922): Sir Ernest Shackleton was the leader of the Endurance expedition. Born in Ireland, he was a renowned British explorer known for his Antarctic expeditions. Shackleton was a charismatic leader with a strong determination to achieve his goals. He demonstrated exceptional leadership and resourcefulness during the ill-fated Endurance expedition, making critical decisions to ensure the survival of his crew.
  • Frank Worsley (1872-1943): Frank Worsley served as the captain and navigator of Endurance. He was a skilled mariner with extensive experience in polar exploration. Worsley’s navigational expertise was crucial in planning the expedition’s routes and attempting to reach their intended destination. His meticulous records and navigational skills proved invaluable in locating the wreck of Endurance.
  • Sir Frank Wild (1873-1939): Sir Frank Wild was an experienced polar explorer who served as the second-in-command on the Endurance expedition. He had previously accompanied Shackleton on the Nimrod expedition. Wild was known for his physical strength, endurance, and leadership capabilities. During the Endurance expedition, he played a significant role in maintaining morale and supporting Shackleton’s leadership.
  • Tom Crean (1877-1938): Tom Crean was an Irish seaman and explorer who played a crucial role in the Endurance expedition. He had previously participated in Robert Falcon Scott’s Discovery and Terra Nova expeditions. Crean’s exceptional physical stamina and bravery were notable during the arduous journey. He undertook several dangerous rescue missions, showcasing his unwavering commitment to the survival of his fellow crew members.**
  • Frank Hurley (1885-1962): Frank Hurley was the official photographer and cinematographer of the Endurance expedition. He was an Australian photographer known for his remarkable images captured during the voyage and subsequent ordeal. Hurley’s photographs documented the entire journey, including the sinking of Endurance and the subsequent survival on the ice. His visual records have become iconic representations of the expedition.

** I have written a separate paper about Tom Crean. If you would like a copy, please email me at

These men, led by Sir Ernest Shackleton, formed a resilient and determined team that faced incredible challenges during the Endurance expedition. Each member played a vital role in the survival and ultimate rescue of the crew, leaving a lasting legacy in the history of Antarctic exploration.

The Decision to Sail for the Antarctic
After the success of his previous expeditions, Sir Ernest Shackleton aimed to achieve a remarkable feat: crossing the entire Antarctic continent from one coast to the other.

The decision to embark on the 1914–1917 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, commonly known as the Endurance Expedition, was driven by Shackleton’s unyielding determination to accomplish what no one had done before. He envisioned a grand journey that would not only capture the world’s attention but also leave an indelible mark in the annals of polar exploration.

To bring his audacious plan to fruition, Shackleton meticulously selected a crew of experienced seamen and explorers who shared his passion for adventure and his relentless pursuit of discovery. These individuals were not only skilled sailors but also possessed the physical and mental fortitude necessary to withstand the challenges of the Antarctic wilderness.

The crew members of the Endurance were driven by a shared sense of purpose and a deep-seated desire to explore the uncharted regions of the Antarctic continent. They were eager to test their limits, to confront the harsh elements, and to contribute to scientific knowledge and human understanding. The allure of venturing into the unknown, braving the extreme conditions, and making history motivated them to embark on this perilous journey alongside Shackleton.

The decision to sail for the Antarctic represented the culmination of meticulous planning, preparation, and logistical arrangements. Shackleton and his team recognised the inherent risks and uncertainties that lay ahead, but their determination to achieve their goal outweighed any apprehensions.

Key: Voyage of the Endurance Drift of the Endurance in pack ice   Sea ice drift after the Endurance sinks   Voyage of the James Caird   Planned trans-Antarctic route  Voyage of the Aurora to Antarctica   Retreat of the Aurora   Supply depot route

Attribution: Finetooth, Like tears in rain, U.S Central Intelligence Agency, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Page URL:
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The Sinking of Endurance

Caption: Endurance’s sinking, November 1915. [A group of dogs watch the Endurance in its final stages of drifting, shortly before it sinks to the bottom of the Weddell Sea.]
Attribution: Royal Geographical Society, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Page URL:

In January 1915, as Endurance approached the Antarctic continent, she encountered treacherous conditions in the Weddell Sea. The ship became trapped in the grip of ice, which closed in around it, immobilising the vessel and confining the crew in a frozen prison. The relentless pressure of the shifting ice exerted immense force on the ship’s hull, gradually weakening its structure.

The crew of Endurance, led by Sir Ernest Shackleton, made valiant attempts to free the ship from its icy grip. They tirelessly hacked away at the surrounding ice, hoping to create channels and pathways for the ship to navigate its way through. However, their efforts were in vain as the icy grip tightened, rendering the ship immobile. The unforgiving Antarctic environment, characterised by freezing temperatures and relentless ice, presented an insurmountable challenge.

As days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, the crew found themselves trapped on the ice floes, surrounded by an icy wasteland as far as the eye could see. The extreme cold was an ever-present adversary, with temperatures plummeting to bone-chilling levels, often reaching below minus 40 degrees Celsius (minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit). The crew members endured harsh blizzards, biting winds, and freezing conditions that tested their physical endurance and mental fortitude.

The relentless pressure of the ice, constantly shifting and grinding against Endurance, took its toll on the ship. The immense forces exerted by the expanding and contracting ice caused the hull to creak and groan, splintering the timbers and compromising its structural integrity. The ice exerted its unyielding grip on the ship, gradually squeezing it until its wooden planks began to distort, crack and break. The crew watched in despair as the once-mighty vessel succumbed to the unrelenting power of the icy wilderness.

On 27th October 1915, after ten months of being trapped, Endurance finally succumbed to the overwhelming pressure of the ice. The ship’s hull gave way, and the vessel began to take on water.

Caption: Crew members from Endurance working to free the ship from the ice.
Attribution: Frank Hurley, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Page URL:

Shackleton made the difficult decision to abandon the ship, realising their only hope of survival was finding refuge on the ice floes.

With the sinking of Endurance, the crew was left marooned in one of the most inhospitable environments on Earth. They salvaged what supplies they could from the ship, including food, tents, and essential equipment, and established a camp on the ice. Shackleton and his men faced the daunting challenge of surviving in this harsh, frozen landscape until they could find a way to reach civilisation. Their resilience and resourcefulness would be tested to the limits as they embarked on an extraordinary journey to seek rescue and ensure the survival of every member of the expedition.

Shackelton’s Escape
Realising the gravity of the situation as Endurance sank beneath the icy waters, Ernest Shackleton and his crew faced the stark reality that their survival now depended on their resourcefulness and resilience. With the ship lost, they were left stranded on the drifting ice floes of the Weddell Sea, hundreds of miles from any inhabited land. Shackleton’s exceptional leadership and decision-making abilities came to the forefront as he navigated the treacherous circumstances to ensure the survival of his men.

Setting up makeshift camps on the ice, the crew made the best of their dire situation, hoping for a rescue or an opportunity to reach solid ground. Shackleton established a system of routines and discipline to maintain morale and keep the crew focused on their survival. He rationed their remaining provisions meticulously, carefully managing their limited food supplies and resources.

Caption: Launching the James Caird from the shore of Elephant Island, 24 April 1916
Attribution: Probably Frank Hurley, the expedition’s photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Page URL:

Months passed, and the crew endured the harsh Antarctic winter on the drifting ice. Shackleton recognised that remaining on the ice offered little chance of rescue or survival in the long term. With unwavering determination, he made a critical decision to lead a daring escape plan to reach the uninhabited Elephant Island, where they could establish a more sustainable base and wait for rescue.

Using the few remaining lifeboats salvaged from Endurance, Shackleton and his crew embarked on a perilous journey through the treacherous waters of the Weddell Sea. Navigating through icy obstacles and battling harsh weather conditions, they faced constant threats to their safety. The crew demonstrated exceptional seamanship, working together under Shackleton’s guidance to manoeuvre the lifeboats and navigate the hazardous waters.

After a gruelling voyage of over a week, battling freezing temperatures and treacherous seas, they finally reached the remote Elephant Island. Though they had found a temporary refuge, their situation was far from secure. Elephant Island was uninhabited, providing no immediate hope of rescue. Shackleton recognised the need to take further action to ensure the survival of his crew.

In a testament to his indomitable spirit and leadership, Shackleton decided to undertake an even more audacious mission: a small crew, led by Shackleton himself, would set out on a daring voyage in a lifeboat named the James Caird to seek help from civilisation. Others, too ill to make that attempt, remained behind and awaited Shackelton’s eventual return.

Departing from Elephant Island, Shackelton embarked on an epic 800-mile journey across the treacherous waters of the Southern Ocean to reach the inhabited island of South Georgia.

The journey in the small lifeboat was a true test of endurance and seamanship. Shackleton and his crew battled monstrous waves, frigid temperatures, and the constant threat of capsising. They navigated through gales and storms, their only compass being Shackleton’s exceptional navigational skills and unwavering determination to reach South Georgia.

Caption: Elephant Island party being rescued by the tug Yelcho, which is visible in the distance.
Attribution: Frank Hurley, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Page URL:

This image is available from the Catalogue of the State Library of New South Wales under the Item ID: FL3181759

Finally, after a remarkable voyage of over two weeks, the small crew reached South Georgia. However, their journey was not yet complete. The island was on the opposite side from the whaling stations, and they faced the daunting task of traversing the uncharted and mountainous interior to reach civilisation. Shackleton and two others embarked on an arduous trek across the rugged terrain, overcoming glaciers, crevasses, and extreme weather conditions.

Against all odds, Shackleton and his men successfully reached the whaling station of Stromness, on the northern coast of South Georgia, on 20th May 1916. They had accomplished an extraordinary feat of survival and endurance. The successful rescue of the crew members stranded on Elephant Island followed shortly after Shackleton arrived in South Georgia. Shackleton organised a relief mission, securing a small vessel named the Yelcho and enlisting the help of experienced sailors. They set sail towards Elephant Island, battling treacherous seas and icy conditions to reach the stranded crew.

On 30th August 1916, after a daring and perilous journey, the Yelcho reached Elephant Island. Shackleton’s relief mission was a testament to his leadership and determination to save his stranded comrades. The crew members left behind on Elephant Island, who had endured months of uncertainty and harsh conditions, were finally rescued and brought back to civilisation and safety.

The remarkable tale of Shackleton’s escape from the sinking Endurance and the subsequent rescue mission is a timeless example of human resilience and the power of leadership in the face of unimaginable challenges. It continues to captivate and inspire people around the world, reminding us of the triumph of the human spirit in the harshest and most unforgiving environments.

Search for the Wreck
After the sinking of Endurance, the wreck remained a mystery, captivating the imagination of explorers and researchers. Numerous attempts were made over the years to locate the sunken ship, but the vastness of the Antarctic region and challenging environmental conditions posed significant hurdles.

In 1998, wreckage found at Stinker Point on the southwestern side of Elephant Island was mistakenly identified as flotsam from Endurance. It was later determined to be remnants from the 1877 wreck of the Connecticut sealing ship Charles Shearer. This misidentification underscored the difficulties faced in finding the true wreck of Endurance.

In 2001, renowned wreck hunter David Mearns announced a plan to search for the wreck. However, the expedition did not materialise at that time. Subsequent years saw multiple groups making plans to locate the wreck of Endurance, highlighting the enduring interest in uncovering the ship’s resting place.

In 2010, Mearns revealed a new plan to search for the wreck, with sponsorship from the National Geographic Society. The estimated cost of the expedition was around US$10 million, and additional sponsors were sought to fund the project. This renewed effort demonstrated the continued dedication to finding the lost vessel.

A significant development came in 2013 when a study by Adrian Glover of the Natural History Museum in London suggested that the Antarctic Circumpolar Current might preserve the wreck by preventing wood-boring “ship worms” from causing significant decay. This finding raised hope that Endurance might still be intact on the seabed.

In the Antarctic summer of 2018-2019, a Weddell Sea Expedition embarked on a mission to locate and possibly photograph the wreck using long-range autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). However, the expedition encountered difficulties, and unfortunately, the researchers’ AUV was lost to the ice, preventing the successful completion of the mission.

These efforts, though challenging and at times unsuccessful, exemplify the tenacity and determination of explorers, researchers, and preservation organizations in their pursuit of the wreck of Endurance.

Discovery of the Wreck of Endurance
On 5th March 2022, after nearly 107 years since the sinking of Endurance, a team of explorers and researchers from Endurance22 achieved a remarkable breakthrough. They successfully discovered the wreck of Endurance beneath the thick and unpredictable ice of the Weddell Sea. Endurance22 made the momentous announcement in a statement made on 9th March 2022.[11]

Caption: Maritime Heritage Trust and National Geographic Caption – The stern of the Endurance with the name and emblematic polestar” by Endurance22 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Endurance22 revealed that the wreck of Endurance was located in the Weddell Sea at a depth of 9,869 feet (3,008 meters; 1,645 fathoms). The discovery was made approximately 4 miles (6.4 kilometres; 3.5 nautical miles) south of the original calculated location by Frank Worsley, the ship’s captain. Mensun Bound, the expedition’s director of exploration, expressed gratitude for Worsley’s navigational skills, stating that his meticulous records proved invaluable in locating the wreck.

The timing of the discovery was significant, as sea ice in the Weddell Sea was recorded to be at its lowest levels in decades. This reduction in sea ice, which traditionally poses challenges to underwater exploration, provided a unique opportunity for the team to reach the depths and uncover the remains of Endurance.

The research vessel S. A. Agulhas II, operated by South Africa, served as the platform for the discoverers. They reported that the wreck of Endurance was remarkably well-preserved, capturing detailed visual documentation through extensive filming, photography, and ultra-high-definition 3D scanning. Notably, the name “Endurance” on the ship’s stern remains clearly legible.

The search for Endurance and the subsequent discovery became a global educational endeavour, thanks to the efforts of the expedition’s educational partner, Reach the World. Students worldwide could follow the expedition’s progress through live streams, educational resources, and regular informational updates provided by Reach the World. This initiative aimed to inspire young minds and foster a deeper understanding of the historical significance of Endurance and its exploration.

The Endurance22 team employed a combination of cutting-edge technology and meticulous planning to locate and document the wreck of Endurance in the Weddell Sea. Their approach involved using advanced sonar and mapping equipment, such as high-resolution multibeam sonar systems, to survey the ocean floor with precision. These tools allowed them to create detailed three-dimensional maps of the seabed, aiding in identifying potential targets.

Once the wreck was detected, the team deployed remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) equipped with cameras and imaging devices to capture visual documentation of the site. The ROVs carefully manoeuvred around the wreckage, capturing high-definition video footage, photographs, and 3D scans. These data provided invaluable insights into the wreck’s condition, preserving its appearance and historical significance for future generations.

The discovery of the wreck of Endurance by Endurance22 shed new light on the story of the ill-fated expedition. The intact state of the wreck, despite being submerged for over a century, offered a remarkable glimpse into the past. The legible name “Endurance” on the stern provided a poignant reminder of the ship’s significance and the indomitable spirit of its crew. This remarkable find serves as a testament to the resilience and determination of all those involved in the expedition and underscores the importance of preserving the wreck as a protected historic site and monument under the Antarctic Treaty System.

The Shackleton Endurance Expedition – Timeline
The timeline of events[12] as they unfolded is as follows (using terminology as in the source):

  • 8th August 1914. Sir Ernest, leading the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, departed from Plymouth on his third Antarctic expedition aboard Endurance.
  • 26th October 1914. Endurance departed Buenos Aires.
  • 5th November 1914. Endurance arrived at the whaling station of Grytviken, South Georgia Island, the last outpost of civilisation encountered en route to Antarctica.
  • 5th December 1914. Endurance sails south from South Georgia; next landfall: 497 days.
  • 7th December 1914. Endurance first encountered pack ice.
  • 18th January 1915. Endurance becomes beset in pack ice and, immobilised, began drifting in the ice. 76 deg 34’s.
  • 22nd February 1915. Endurance reaches its Furthest South, 77 deg S off Luitpold Land.
  • 27th October 1915. Endurance is now badly damaged, having been stuck in the ice for over nine months – Abandon Ship! Ocean Camp was established. Shackleton ordered each of the 27 men to dump all but two pounds of personal possessions. Exceptions were made for Frank Hurley’s photographs and Leonard Hussey’s banjo.
  • 8th November 1915. Hurley dived into the flooded ship to recover the precious glass plates. With Shackleton, he chose 120 to keep. The remaining 400 or so were smashed so that Hurley wasn’t tempted to risk his life to return for them later.
  • 21st November 1915. “She’s going, boys!” Endurance sank.
  • 29th December 1915. After a failed attempt to march across the ice to the safety of land, Shackleton established “Patience Camp,” hoping they would drift north, on an ice floe, to safety.
  • 26th January 1916. Patience Camp was established on the ice floes.
  • 9th April 1916. The James Caird, Stancomb Wills and Dudley Docker were launched for the voyage to Elephant Island.
  • 15th April 1916. The three boats landed on Elephant Island, a remote uninhabited island far from shipping lanes. This was the first time that the men had stood on solid ground in 497 days. Two days later, the party moved to Cape Wild.
  • 24th April 1916. Shackleton decided to sail the James Caird back to South Georgia, where a whaling station was located, to get help. Accompanying him were Captain Frank Worsley, second officer Tom Crean, carpenter Chippy McNeish, and seamen Tim McCarthy and John Vincent.
  • 10th May 1916. After a treacherous two-week journey, the James Caird landed on the south coast of South Georgia. Five days later, the six-man party moved to Peggotty Camp at the head of King Haakon Bay.
  • 19th May 1916. Shackleton, Worsley, and Crean begin their trek across the island’s unexplored and largely unknown interior to get help at a whaling station on the north coast; McNeish, McCarthy and Vincent were too ill to move on.
  • 20th May 1916. Shackelton, Worsley and Crean arrive at Stromness on the north coast of South Georgia. Shackleton and his men arrived at Stromness whaling station. Worsley sailed to the south coast to pick up the three men left behind.
  • 23rd May 1916. Shackleton borrowed a ship, Southern Sky, and sailed for Elephant Island to rescue his men. The pack ice prevented passage, and the ship returned. Two subsequent rescue attempts aboard the Instituto Pesca No. 1 in June and the Emma in July were also stopped by pack ice.
  • 30th August 1916. Shackelton, aboard the Yelcho, rescued the 22 men on Elephant Island 24 months and 22 days after leaving England.
  • 3rd September 1916. The Yelcho arrived at Punta Arenas, Chile.
  • 20th December 1916. Shackelton, aboard the Aurora, sailed from New Zealand to rescue the members of his Ross Sea Party (Sister, Food Depo ship). Under extreme conditions, they had successfully laid supply depots for the Weddell Sea party that ironically was never able to reach land.
  • 10th January 1917. The Aurora reached Cape Royds and collected the Ross Sea party.

Caption: [Cropped] Hurley and Shackleton
Attribution: See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Page URL:,_Antarctic_Ice_Flow,_1914-1915_State_Library_NSW_a423023h.jpg

This image is available from the Catalogue of the State Library of New South Wales under the Item ID: 440135

 Sources and Further Reading



CAUTION: This paper is compiled from the sources stated but has not been externally reviewed. Parts of this paper include information provided via artificial intelligence which, although checked by the author, is not always accurate or reliable. Neither we nor any third parties provide any warranty or guarantee as to the accuracy, timeliness, performance, completeness or suitability of the information and materials covered in this paper for any particular purpose. Such information and materials may contain inaccuracies or errors and we expressly exclude liability for any such inaccuracies or errors to the fullest extent permitted by law. Your use of any information or materials on this website is entirely at your own risk, for which we shall not be liable. It shall be your own responsibility to ensure that any products, services or information available through this paper meet your specific requirements and you should neither take action nor exercise inaction without taking appropriate professional advice. The hyperlinks were current at the date of publication.

End Notes and Explanations

  1. Source: Compiled from research using information at the sources stated throughout the text, together with information provided by machine-generated artificial intelligence at: [chat] and
  2. Explanation: A barquentine or schooner barque (alternatively “barkentine” or “schooner bark”) is a sailing vessel with three or more masts; with a square-rigged foremast and fore-and-aft rigged main, mizzen and any other masts. Source:
  3. From:
  4. Source:
  5. Source:
  6. Source: Lansing, Alfred (1959). p.p. 19–20. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage. New York: McGraw-Hill. LCCN 58059666. OL 6263779M. Cited at:
  7. Explanations: “Square-rigged foremast and mainmast” refers to the type of rigging used on the two main masts of a sailing vessel. In square-rigged rigging, the yards (horizontal spars) carrying the sails are positioned at right angles to the ship’s keel. This allows the sails to catch the wind when sailing directly downwind or with the wind coming from behind the ship. The “foremast” refers to the mast located toward the front or bow of the ship, while the “mainmast” refers to the mast located toward the middle or amidships of the ship. Both of these masts on a square-rigged vessel would have square sails attached to their yards, creating a distinctive square shape when viewed from a distance. The square-rigged foremast and mainmast configuration was commonly used on large sailing vessels, including historical ships like the Endurance, to maximize their sailing power and efficiency. It allowed them to harness the wind effectively and navigate in various wind conditions, making them suitable for long-distance voyages and exploration. The term “mizzenmast” refers to the third and rearmost mast on a sailing vessel that is equipped with three or more masts. It is located aft of the mainmast and is shorter in height compared to the mainmast and foremast. The mizzenmast is typically positioned toward the stern or rear of the ship. On a square-rigged vessel, the mizzenmast carries square sails similar to those on the foremast and mainmast, though they are usually smaller in size. The purpose of the mizzenmast is to provide additional sail area and enhance the vessel’s manoeuvrability. By adjusting the sails on the mizzenmast, sailors can help steer the ship and control its balance under different wind conditions. In vessels with more modern rigging configurations, such as schooners or ketches, the mizzenmast may carry triangular or fore-and-aft sails instead of square sails. This setup allows for greater flexibility and the ability to sail more effectively at different angles to the wind. Overall, the mizzenmast plays a crucial role in the stability, control, and performance of a sailing vessel, contributing to its overall sailing capabilities.
  8. Source: Lansing, Alfred (1959). p. 19. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage. New York: McGraw-Hill. LCCN 58059666. OL 6263779M. Cited at:
  9. Source: Lansing, Alfred (1959). p. 20. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage. New York: McGraw-Hill. LCCN 58059666. OL 6263779M. Cited at:
  10. Sources: [1] Shackleton, Ernest (1999) [1919]. South. New York: Signet. ISBN 0-451-19880-8 (p. 72)., and [2] Lansing 1959, p. 54. Cited at:
  11. See:
  12. Source and acknowledgement:

Leave a Reply

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: