After resting on the floor of the ocean since 1778, the wreckage of the HMS Endeavour may finally have been rediscovered off the coast of Rhode Island.

Archaeologists with the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project, or RIMAP, recently announced that after decades of searching, they may have finally pinpointed the Endeavour’s final resting place.

Though it’s been several centuries since it last sailed the waves, the Endeavour has retained a place as one of the most famous ships in recent history.

Captain Cook

The 18th-century ship was first purchased by the British Navy in 1768 and would go on to achieve notoriety for its association with British naval Captain James Cook.

Captain Cook was not only an expert navigator but an explorer and cartographer who mapped huge areas of the Pacific.

His famed three voyages resulted in a huge shift in his generation’s perception of the geography of the world at large.

Captain Cook set sail on the Endeavour in 1769 along with an astronomer named Charles Green and a botanist called Joseph Banks. The British officially dubbed the voyage an effort to allow researchers to witness a rare astronomical event which could only be seen from the southern hemisphere.

But there was also a second, hidden motive which would ultimately change the course of history.

The Fabled Continent

At the time, there had been rumors of a hidden, southern continent which King George III was incredibly keen on locating. Though it was not publicized, the King had given Cook a set of off the book instructions to find and claim parts of the continent for Britain.

Today that continent is commonly known as Austrailia.

Captain Cook and his crew “discovering” Australia

Though Captain Cook is sometimes credited with discovering Austrailia itself, this isn’t exactly the historical truth.

Not only had the continent already been inhabited by indigenous people for thousands of years, but several Dutch explorers had also set foot on it as well.

Nonetheless, Cook’s landing at Botany Bay and subsequent claiming of the east Australian Coast would indeed have a significant impact on Austrailia’s future. Cook’s discovery would lead to British interest in the new country and ultimately help lay the groundwork for European colonization.

Life After Cook

Unfortunately for the Endeavour, things went a bit downhill after its glory days with Captain Cook.

In 1775 the British Navy sold the vessel, which was subsequently renamed Lord Sandwich after, you guessed it, the Earl of Sandwich. From that point on, it spent its life as a transport and prison ship during the American War for Independence.

Wikipedia

It would ultimately meet its watery end during 1778 when it was scuttled (sunk on purpose) along with 12 other ships. Records indicate that this was part of an attempt to help block off Rhode Island Harbor from the entrance of invading French ships.

The Endeavour’s Rediscovery

Though the ship’s approximate location has been known for some time, it’s exact location has remained a mystery until now.

The researchers, divers, and archeologists from RIMAP have been on a search for the 250-year-old ship since 1993.

A replica of the HMS Endeavor in Boston Harbor Wikipedia

Now that they’ve managed to nail down exactly where it is, their next step is to run various tests in order to prove their discovery is indeed the ship formally known as the Endeavour.