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Researchers Say They're A Step Closer To Determining If Capt. Cook's Endeavour Is In Newport

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Researchers with the Rhode Island Marine Archeology Project say they’re one step closer to determining whether Captain Cook’s famous ship, the Endeavour...

Researchers with the Rhode Island Marine Archeology Project say they’re one step closer to determining whether Captain Cook’s famous ship, the Endeavour, lies at the bottom of Newport Harbor.

The historic Endeavour was used for transportation by the British during the American Revolution, and was part of a fleet sent to occupy Newport. In 1778, the ship was part of a group of five intentionally sunk in Newport Harbor to protect the city.

But the ship was renamed the Lord Sandwich before it went to America, said lead researcher Kathy Abbass.

“So everybody who’s ever looked for the Endeavour in the past were looking in the wrong place,” said Abbass. “Because nobody had ever paid attention to the transports. They weren’t very significant vessels.  They were like you’re Chevy truck. They’re the workhorses.”

Researchers have located four of the wrecks, and hope to map the fifth this summer. But RIMAP director Kathy Abbass said the Endeavour sat in busy waters, which could have ruined the wreck.

“So people could have gotten in there, they could have disturbed it,” said Abbass. “An anchor could have dragged through there and torn it up. So you can usually tell that if you see. She may be gone.  If that vessel is gone, and that vessel was the Endeavor, well that’s it.”

Before its part in the Revolutionary War, Captain James Cook sailed the Endeavour during a trip around the world in 1768, when he charted Australia, where the ship holds special significance.

“The Endeavour was the founding vessel for Australia, and Cook is their hero, because he explored the east coast of Australia in the Endeavour, and then he claimed the east coast of Australia, while he was in the Endeavour for the British crown,” Cook.

Should the team find the Endeavour, Abbass hopes to excavate portions of the ship, a project that could cost at least $1 million dollars. 

Replica of the Endeavour in Whitby England in 2000.
Replica of the Endeavour in Whitby England in 2000.