Captain Cook was one of the most famous explorers during the Age of Exploration. He undertook four long voyages of exploration into the Pacific Ocean. In those voyages, he fully charted New Zealand, charted much of Australia, proved there was no great southern continent (which was the thought of the day), proved there was no viable Northwest Passage, and more.

But the whereabouts of his most famous ship has been something of a mystery. The HMS Endeavour is known to have been scuttled by the British off the coast of Rhode Island, but its exact location has been unknown - until now.

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HMS Endeavour

HMS Endeavour was a British Royal Navy bark-type research vessel. James Cook commanded this ship on his first voyage of discovery to Australia and New Zealand between 1768 and 1771.

She was a collier and was initially launched as the Earl of Pembroke in 1764. But the Royal Navy purchased her for scientific missions into the largely unmapped Pacific Ocean.

  • Terra Australis Incognita: The Supposed Unknown Southern Land that Didn't Exist
  • Launched: In 1764 As the Earl of Pembroke - Renamed HMS Endeavour Four Years Later
  • First Cook Expedition: From 1768 to 1771
  • Mission: Her Scientific Mission Was To Ostensibly Record The Transit of Venus in Tahiti in 1769

She was the first European ship to reach the east coast of Australia with Cook going ashore as Botany Bay in what is today Sydney. After three years at sea, she returned to Dover in England. After her epic trip, Cook commanded the HMS Resolution for his next trip and the HMS Endeavour was largely forgotten.

She spent the next three years transporting troops and cargo to and from the Falkland Islands. After that, she was sold to private interests and was used to transport timber from the Baltic region.

Then the American War of Independence broke out and she was rehired as a British troop transport. During the blockage of Narraganset Bay in Rhode Island in 1778, she was deliberately scuttled just north of Goat Island with four other British transport ships.

Related: Sunken Treasure: Battle For San Jose's "Holy Grail Of Shipwrecks"

Rediscovery of the HMS Endeavour

According to the ABC, Australian maritime experts have just announced that they believe to have discovered the long-lost wreck of the HMS Endeavour.

That being said, archaeologists in the United States have quickly stated that this is a premature conclusion and that it might not be the scuttled ship from 200 years ago.

The experts have been searching for the wreck for 22 years and have been investigating serval ancient shipwrecks in the area of Newport Harbor in Rhode Island. They announced:

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

They were convinced that that wreck was the Endeavour after gauging the size of the timbers, that it was a European-built ship, and from the scuttling holes in her keel.

  • Importance: The HMS Endeavour Is Important to Australia, New Zealand, Britain, and The United States

But the last 200 years for the sunken wooden ship have not been easy for her. Only around 15% of the vessel remains today so the focus is now on how to protect and preserve it.

While pirates didn't actually bury treasure and leave treasure maps, many ships have sunken carrying untold riches. Today searching for these ships is big busy but the legality of if its finders keepers are very complicated.

  • Australia: In 1770 Cook Claimed Eastern Australia For Great Britain

Related: It's Rumored That Captain Kidd's Famous Treasure Can Be Found On This Connecticut Island

Replicas And Impact

Today there are two full-sized replicas of the vessel and a couple more scaled-down replicas around the world.

One of the replicas is the HM Bark Endeavour Replica in Australia. After financial issues, she was eventually completed and sailed from Fremantle to Sydney. In 1995 she retraced Cook's voyage along eastern Australia before visiting New Zealand.

In 1996 the replica circumnavigated the world calling into South Africa, the UK, America, and then returned to New Zealand. Today she can be visited in the Australian National Maritime Museum. One can also see more of the remains of the HMS Endeavour with 3D imaging on their website.

There are a number of relics of the ship displayed around the world (including six of her cannons and her anchor).

  • Space Shuttle: The NASA Space Shuttle Endeavour Is Named After Her
  • Star Trek: The Name And Inspiration For Captian James Kirk is From Captian James Cook
  • NZ 50c Coin: She Is Depicted On The New Zealand 50c Coin

But a more important British ship to early American history is the Mayflower, and today one can visit the replica museum of the Mayfollower in Massachusetts.

Next: USS Constitution: Visit America's Most Historic Navy Ship