Archaeologists May Have Found Captain Cook's Ship off Rhode Island's Coast

Wikimedia Commons//Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons//Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons//Public Domain

During his historic 1769 to 1771 voyage, English explorer Captain James Cook became the first European sea captain to chart New Zealand and explore Australia’s east coastline. Cook’s trip made history—but his ship, the legendary HMS Endeavour, was largely forgotten. Now, the New York Daily News reports that archaeologists believe they’ve located the vessel’s sunken remains in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island.

The find comes courtesy of the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP), a non-profit group that received a grant from the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney to find the Endeavour's potential resting place. RIMAP will publicly announce their findings on Wednesday, May 4, on Rhode Island’s 240th birthday, their website states.

In the years following Cook’s first successful Pacific voyage, historians believe that the Endeavour was later sold, renamed the Lord Sandwich, and used to transport British troops during the American Revolution. In 1998, RIMAP unearthed archival documents stating that the Endeavour had been scuttled along with 12 other ships in Newport Harbor in the lead up to the August 1778 Battle of Rhode Island. The records listed the ship under its later name, the Lord Sandwich, reports.

By analyzing remote sensing data and poring through historic records, RIMAP says they’ve mapped "9 archaeological sites of the 13 ships that were scuttled in Newport Harbor in 1778." One group of five sunken ships reportedly includes the Lord Sandwich—also known as Captain James Cook's Endeavor.

RIMAP “had already mapped 4 of the sites there,” the group's website states. “A recent analysis of remote sensing data suggests that the 5th site may still exist, too. That means the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project now has an 80 to 100 percent chance that the Lord Sandwich is still in Newport Harbor, and because the Lord Sandwich was Capt. Cook's Endeavour, that means RIMAP has found her, too."

If future research proves that a ship in the harbor is indeed the Endeavour, they plan to excavate the shipwreck and put it on public display.

[h/t New York Daily News]