Captain Cook mystery blown open as famed HMS Endeavor shipwreck ‘found’ after 250 years

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According to experts, the famous ship belonging to Captain James Cook has spent over two centuries at the Newport Harbour, in the US. Captain Cook famously sailed this ship across the Pacific Ocean and was the first European to set foot in Australia, charting out the continent and claiming the land for Great Britain on August 22, 1770. Eventually, the ship was sold off to private buyers and later sunken deliberately by British forces during the American War of Independence in 1778.

Since 1999, maritime archaeologists have been investigating several 18th-century shipwrecks in the Newport Harbour in the US.

On Thursday, Australian National Maritime Museum chief executive Kevin Sumption confirmed that they have identified the shipwreck of HMS Endeavour in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island.

However, this claim has been challenged by American experts, who accused Mr Sumption of “jumping the gun”.

Mr Sumption said: “It’s arguably one of the most important vessels in Australia’s maritime history.

“I am satisfied that this is the final resting place of one of the most important and contentious vessels in Australia’s maritime history,”

“The last pieces of the puzzle had to be confirmed before I felt able to make this call.

“Based on archival and archaeological evidence, I’m convinced it’s the Endeavour.”

However, the lead investigator on the project felt that it was too premature to be making such a call.

Dr Kathy Abbass from the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project criticised the Maritime Museum, saying that they are “in breach of the contract” after the results were shared with the public.

She told the ABC: “What we see on the shipwreck site under study is consistent with what might be expected of the Endeavour, but there has been no indisputable data found to prove the site is that iconic vessel, and there are many unanswered questions that could overturn such an identification.

She confirmed that a “legitimate report” will be shared by the RIMAP on its website once the studies are complete.

Dr Abbass added: “RIMAP recognises the connections between Australian citizens of British descent and the Endeavour but RIMAP’s conclusions will be driven by a proper scientific process and not Australian emotions or politics”

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The Maritime Museum is convinced that the sunken ship is the HMS Endeavour as details and shape closely match the descriptions of the famous ship.

This included the construction of the keel along the bottom of the ship, the joinery used in its bow at the front, and the placement of the vessel’s fore and mainmast.

Mr Sumption said: “It’s an important historical moment, as this vessel’s role in exploration, astronomy and science applies not just to Australia, but also to Aotearoa New Zealand, the UK and the US.

“We will continue to investigate and look closely with maritime experts at Rhode Island about the future of this site and what should happen to this site but certainly protection is what we’re working towards right now.”

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