Long-sought historic ship HMS Endeavour discovered off Rhode Island coast

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One of the most highly prized treasures in the world of marine archaeology, the historic vessel HMS Endeavour, is believed to have been found off the coast of Rhode Island.

circa 1779: English explorer Captain James Cook (1728-1779), whose expeditions to the Pacific, North America and Antarctica vastly increased contemporary cartographical knowledge of these areas. The inset below depicts his death at the hands of irate islanders on Hawaii. A print by J Chapman, published in 1800. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The ship was made famous as the vessel the legendary British explorer Captain James Cook commanded in his voyage of discovery of Australia and New Zealand from 1769 to 1771.

For a short period, it served to transport British troops to the United States during the Revolutionary War. It is believed the ship was intentionally sunk off the coast of Newport in order to block the harbor before the Battle of Rhode Island in 1778.

The location of the wreck was forgotten, and became something of a crown jewel for marine historical societies and shipwreck hunters.

A researcher made a breakthrough in 1998 in the discovery of historical documents in a shipping archive which hinted that the Endeavour had been renamed and scuttled in the United States.

In 2014, the Australian National Maritime Museum funded The Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP) to search for the ship.

wrecksite2 years later, RIMAP has made good on the investment, and is planning an official announcement on Wednesday of the discovery of 13 ships that were scuttled in the harbor, the Endeavour among them.

The group said it is “80% to 100% certain” that the ship they’ve identified as the Endeavour is, in fact, the real deal.

“All of the 13 ships lost in Newport during the Revolution are important to American history, but it will be a national celebration in Australia when RIMAP identifies the Endeavour,” RIMAP said in a statement.

RIMAP said they have plans to excavate parts from the shipwreck for public display.

A scale replica of the Endeavour was constructed by the HM Bark Endeavour Foundation, completed in 1994. The replica circumnavigated Australia in 2012.