Legendary Polar Explorer Ernest Shackleton’s Ship Quest Discovered Intact on Ocean Floor

Shipwreck hunters have discovered the Quest, a vessel once captained by famed Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, lying largely intact on the ocean floor off the coast of Canada.

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society announced the find, which lies 15 nautical miles from the shore. Shackleton was aboard the Quest when he died in January 1922. Experts believe the ship may have held valuable artifacts from its expeditions until it sank in 1962.

John Geiger, CEO of the society and leader of the search expedition, hailed the discovery as a significant chapter in Shackleton’s storied history. Known for his exceptional leadership during crises, Shackleton’s death aboard Quest was the only fatality on any of his commanded ships.

The international team located the vessel on June 9 after an extensive 17-hour search using sonar, following months of preparatory research to identify the optimal search area.

Legendary Polar Explorer Ernest Shackleton’s Ship Quest Discovered Intact on Ocean Floor
Legendary Polar Explorer Ernest Shackleton’s Ship Quest Discovered Intact on Ocean Floor.

Shackleton was on his fourth Antarctic expedition when he died at 47 while the Quest was docked at South Georgia Island. Despite his death, the crew attempted to continue the Shackleton-Rowett Expedition but had to abandon it due to heavy ice, returning to Cape Town.

Shackleton had initially planned to use Quest for a Canadian Arctic expedition but could not secure the necessary approval from the Canadian prime minister.

After Shackleton’s era, Quest was sold to a Norwegian company and undertook several expeditions before being repurposed as a sealer. The ship met its end on May 5, 1962, when it was crushed by ice in the Labrador Sea, prompting the crew to evacuate and mark its location.

Remarkably, Quest was found just 2.5 kilometers from this last recorded position. Geiger remarked on the poetic closure of the vessel being found near the waters Shackleton had hoped to explore.

The Quest now rests upright, 390 meters below the ocean’s surface, having sunk stern first due to its heavy engine. The Royal Canadian Geographical Society plans to return for a second expedition phase, aiming to document the wreck and its artifacts using a remotely operated vehicle.

This find follows the 2022 discovery of the Endurance, another of Shackleton’s ships, in Antarctic waters. Harvard historian Nancy Koehn highlighted Shackleton’s enduring legacy, emphasizing how his leadership continues to inspire and teach valuable lessons in perseverance and teamwork.

Sajda Parveen
Sajda Parveen
Sajda Praveen is a market expert. She has over 6 years of experience in the field and she shares her expertise with readers. You can reach out to her at [email protected]
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