Mystery of Captain Cook's Endeavour 'solved' after 240 years

Hunt for famed 'Endeavour' ship could be nearing an end

Maritime historians have urged caution over the discovery of a wreck marine archaeologists believe may be the ship Captain Cook took to Australia and the South Pacific nearly 250 years ago.

The Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP) and the Australian National Maritime Museum teamed up to search for the Endeavour and will announce their results at an event on Rhode Island on Friday. He arrived off the south-east coast of what is now Australia in 1770, eventually making landfall at Botany Bay.

The Endeavour was used by Cook to land on Australia's east coast, map New Zealand and circumnavigate the globe during his 1768-1771 voyages.

To this end, in 1999 then Rhode Island attorney general Sheldon Whitehouse led a charge "to ensure ownership of the historic Newport fleet", including the Endeavour, according to RIMAP.

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The breakthrough has raised hopes the vessel will be excavated next year, in time for the 250th anniversary of Cook's arrival in Australia.

"We can say we think we know which one it is", Kathy Abbass, director of the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project, told Fairfax Media.

After sailing back to Britain, the Endeavour was renamed Lord Sandwich II and became a troop carrier.

The 250th commemorations of Captain Cook's landing in New Zealand will begin in Marlborough with a visit from a replica of Endeavour in November. The British Royal Navy used it to ferry supplies to and from the Falkland Islands for several years before selling it to a private buyer.

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In August, 1768, Endeavour set out from the English port of Plymouth, rounded Cape Horn after battling giant seas, and headed for Tahiti to observe the 1769 transit of Venus across the Sun. When French reinforcements came to assist American revolutionaries in Rhode Island, the British made a decision to sink their ships rather than allow them to be captured, creating a blockade out of scuttled vessels to block the French from getting into the harbor.

Despite the historical significance to Australia, it is likely the Endeavour, if found, will remain in Rhode Island.

A team of marine archaeologists from Australia and the United States have said they believe they may have found the site where the vessel was scuttled in 1778.

"In a statement on their website, RIMAP said: "[we have] identified a possible site in Newport Harbour that might be the Lord Sandwich ex Endeavour". "Therefore, fundraising is ongoing for the artifact management facility needed to process, store, and display the artifacts that will emerge from the planned 2019 excavation".

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