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Scott’s Ship Found

Seen here in her former glory, the Terra Nova carried Scott’s party on their ill-fated expedition to the Antarctic.

© BBC / Getty Images

One hundred years after the S.S. Terra Nova carried Captain Robert Scott and his team on their ill-fated journey to the South Pole in 1912, the wreck of that ship has been discovered off Greenland.

The Terra Nova sank off Greenland’s south coast in 1943, damaged by ice during a delivery trip to base stations in the Arctic, and was recently located by a team from the Schmidt Ocean Institute, a U.S. research company, during routine functional performance testing of echo-sounding equipment on the Institute’s flagship Falkor.

The discovery wasn’t truly random: researchers had selected the test survey site to not only test the research vessel’s mapping capabilities, but also because they knew the wreck was in the area. During sonar mapping of the seabed, a 187-ft unidentified feature matched the reported length of the Terra Nova.

This special package containing high definition cameras and underwater flashlights was deployed during the exploration.

© Schmidt Ocean Institute

A specialized camera known as a SHRIMP (Simple High Resolution IMaging Package) was dropped onto and towed across the top of the target. Footage showed the remains of a wooden wreck lying on the seabed and also identified a funnel lying next to the ship — these features together closely matched historical photos of the Terra Nova.

Remarkably, the vessel’s mast still holds its shape after more than 100 years on the bottom.

© Schmidt Ocean Institute

Mission accomplished on two levels: the discovery of the wreck of one of the most successful polar exploration vessels in history, and verification for the Schmidt Ocean Institute on the performance and operational condition of Falkor‘s multibeam echo sounders. Nicely done!

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