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Built under yard 87 by Framnæs Mek. Verks., Sandefjord, Norway for a company formed by Lars Christensen from Norway and Adrien de Gerlach from Belgian.
17 December 1912 launched as the POLARIS.
Tonnage 348 gross, dim. 42.67 x 8.04 x 4.28m.
One auxiliary coal fired triple expansion steam engine, 350 hp, one shaft, speed 10.2 knots.
Rigged as a three-masted barkentine.
24 August 1913 completed.
She was designed for the new formed company as a polar safari ship with paying guests, but when delivered the new formed company could not made the last payment, and the POLARIS was laid up waiting for a new buyer.
When Shackleton also short by cash was looking for a polar expedition vessel, and he did not have to pay for the POLARIS straight away but after some time, bought her for 225.000NKroner.
She was renamed in ENDURANCE.
The ENDURANCE was the three-masted barquentine in which Sir Ernest Shackleton sailed for the Antarctic on the 1914 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. She was launched in 1912 from Sandefjord in Norway and was crushed by ice, causing her to sink, three years later in the Weddell Sea off Antarctica.
Designed by Ole Aanderud Larsen, the ENDURANCE was built at the Framnæs shipyard in Sandefjord, Norway and fully completed 24 August 1913. She was built under the supervision of master wood shipbuilder Christian Jacobsen, who was renowned for insisting that all men employed under him not just be skilled shipwrights, but also be experienced in seafaring aboard whaling or sealing ships. Every detail of her construction had been scrupulously planned to ensure maximum durability, for example every joint and every fitting cross-braced each other for maximum strength
She was launched on December 17, 1912 and was initially christened the POLARIS (eponymous with Polaris, the North Star). She was 144 feet (44 m) long, with a 25 feet (7.6 m) beam and weighed 350 short tons (320 t). Though her black hull looked from the outside like that of any other vessel of a comparable size, it was not. She was designed for polar conditions with a very sturdy construction. Her keel members were four pieces of solid oak, one above the other, adding up to a thickness of 85 inches (2,200 mm), while her sides were between 30 inches (760 mm) and 18 inches (460 mm) thick, with twice as many frames as normal and the frames being of double thickness. She was built of planks of oak and Norwegian fir up to 30 inches (760 mm) thick, sheathed in greenheart, a notably strong and heavy wood. Her bow, where she would meet the ice head-on, had been given special attention. Each timber had been made from a single oak tree chosen for its shape so that is natural shape followed the curve of her design. When put together, these pieces had a thickness of 52 inches (1,300 mm).
Of her three masts, the forward one was square-rigged while the after two carried fore and aft sails, like a schooner. As well as sails, ENDURANCE had a 350 horsepower (260 kW) coal-fired steam engine capable of driving her at speeds up to 10.2 knots (18.9 km/h; 11.7 mph).
By the time she was launched on December 17, 1912, POLARIS was perhaps the strongest wooden ship ever built, with the possible exception of the FRAM, the vessel used by Fridtjof Nansen and later by Roald Amundsen. However, there was one major difference between the ships. The FRAM was bowl-bottomed, which meant that if the ice closed in against her she would be squeezed up and out and not be subject to the pressure of the ice compressing around her. But since the POLARIS was designed to operate in relatively loose pack ice she was not constructed so as to rise out of pressure to any great extent.
She was built for Adrien de Gerlache and Lars Christensen. They intended to use her for polar cruises for tourists to hunt polar bears. Financial problems leading to de Gerlache pulling out of their partnership meant that Christensen was happy to sell the boat to Ernest Shackleton for GB£11,600 (approx US$67,000), less than cost. He is reported to have said he was happy to take the loss in order to further the plans of an explorer of Shackleton's stature 'After Shackleton's purchasing her, she was rechristened ENDURANCE after the Shackleton family motto "Fortitudine vincimus" (By endurance we conquer).
Shackleton sailed with ENDURANCE from Plymouth, England on August 6, 1914 and set course for Buenos Aires, Argentina. This was ENDURANCE's first major cruising since her completion and amounted to a shakedown cruise. The trip across the Atlantic took more than two months. Built for the ice, her hull was considered by many of its crew too rounded for the open ocean.
On October 26, 1914 ENDURANCE sailed from Buenos Aires to her last port of call, the Grytviken whaling station on the island of South Georgia off the southern tip of South America, where she arrived on November 5. She departed from Grytviken for her final voyage on December 5, 1914 towards the southern regions of the Weddell Sea.
Two days after leaving from South Georgia, ENDURANCE encountered polar pack ice and progress slowed down. For weeks Endurance twisted and squirmed her way through the pack. She kept moving but averaged less than 30 miles (48 km) per day. By January 15, Endurance was within 200 miles (320 km) of its destination, Vahsel Bay. However by the following day heavy pack ice was sighted in the morning and in the afternoon a blowing gale developed. Under these conditions it was soon evident progress could not be made, and ENDURANCE took shelter under the lee of a large grounded berg. During the next two days ENDURANCE dogged back and forth under the sheltering protection of the berg.
On January 18 the gale began to moderate and thus ENDURANCE, one day short of her destination, set the topsail with the engine at slow. The pack had blown away. Progress was made slowly until hours later ENDURANCE encountered the pack once more. It was decided to move forward and work through the pack, and at 5pm ENDURANCE entered it. However it was noticed that this ice was different from what had been encountered before. The ship was soon engulfed by thick but soft ice floes. The ship floated in a soupy sea of mushy brash ice. The ship was beset. The gale now increased its intensity and kept blowing for another six days from a northerly direction towards land. By January 24, the wind had completely compressed the ice in the whole Weddell Sea against the land. The ice had packed snugly around ENDURANCE. All that could be done was to wait for a southerly gale that would start pushing, decompressing and opening the ice in the other direction. Instead the days passed and the pack remained unchanged.
ENDURANCE drifted for months while remaining beset in the ice in the Weddell Sea and drifted with it. The ice kept compressing it until ENDURANCE could not endure the pressure and was crushed on October 27, 1915. On the morning of November 21, 1915, the ENDURANCE bow began to sink under the ice. Like RMS TITANIC, the Endurance went vertical, her stern rising into the air, then disappearing beneath the ice. The ENDURANCE is considered the last ship of her kind.
It is said that Shackleton placed advertisements in London newspapers that read:
"MEN WANTED: For hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success. Sir Ernest Shackleton."
The crew of the Endurance in its final voyage was made up of the 28 men Blackborrow was originally refused a post aboard the vessel due to his young age and inexperience and decided to stow away, helped to sneak aboard by William Blakewell, a friend of his, and Walter How. By the time he was found, the expedition was far enough out that Shackleton had no choice but to make him a steward. Blackborrow eventually proved his worth, earning the Bronze Polar Medal, and the honour of becoming the first human being ever to set foot on Elephant Island. His name is also the matter of some debate—it is sometimes spelled Percy, or Blackboro, or in other ways.
Alfred Lansing wrote a book titled Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage about the ordeal that Shackleton and his men endured aboard the ship. It became a bestseller when first published in 1959. Subsequent reprints have made it a recurrent bestseller; the last time being in the late 1990s.
Two Antarctic patrol ships of the British Royal Navy have been named ENDURANCE in honour of Shackleton's ship. The first HMS ENDURANCE (originally named ANITA DAN) was launched in May 1956 and awarded Pennant number A171 sometime later. She acted as an ice patrol and hydrographic survey ship until 1986. Today's modern HMS ENDURANCE, nicknamed The Red Plum, is a class 1A1 ice-breaker bought from Norway in 1992 where she had been known as MV POLAR CIRCLE. She is based at Portsmouth but makes annual forays to Antarctica where she can penetrate through 0.9 metres (2 ft 11 in) of ice at a speed of 3 knots (5.6 km/h; 3.5 mph). She has a complement of 126 marine personnel and carries two Westland Lynx helicopters.
In 1998 wreckage found at Stinker Point on the south western side of Elephant Island was incorrectly identified as flotsam from the ship. It in fact belonged to the 1877 wreck of the Connecticut sealing ship CHARLES SHEARER In 2001 wreck hunter David Mearns unsuccessfully planned an expedition to find the wreck of the Endurance By 2003 two rival groups were making plans for an expedition to find the wreck, however no expedition was actually mounted. In 2010 Mearns announced a new plan to search for the wreck. The plan is sponsored by the National Geographic Society but is subject to finding sponsorship for the balance of the U.S. $10 million estimated cost.
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