Shipwreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ‘last vessel’ found off Canadian coast

The ship on which Sir Ernest Shackleton made his final voyage has been found.

Quest was located in the Labrador Sea off the coast of Newfoundland in Canada.

Shackleton suffered a fatal heart attack on board on January 5 1922, aged 47, while trying to reach the Antarctic.

After his death, Quest was acquired by a Norwegian company and it was involved in a series of expeditions until May 5 1962, when it was damaged by ice and sank. All of the crew survived.

A sonar image of the vessel  on the seabed (RCGS)
A sonar image of the vessel on the seabed (RCGS)

The Shackleton Quest Expedition, led by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS), said on Wednesday that the schooner-rigged vessel was found “intact” lying at a depth of 390m (1,280ft).

Wreck searchers used sonar equipment to aid the discovery, which falls in the 150th year after Shackleton’s birth.

Expedition leader John Geiger, of the RCGS, said: “Finding Quest is one of the final chapters in the extraordinary story of Sir Ernest Shackleton.

“Shackleton was known for his courage and brilliance as a leader in crisis. The tragic irony is that his was the only death to take place on any of the ships under his direct command.”

The location of Quest off the Canadian coast (RCGS/PA)
The location of Quest off the Canadian coast (RCGS/PA)

Martin Brooks, of British expedition and apparel company Shackleton, said: “The finding of Quest is an important new chapter in the story of Ernest Shackleton and polar history; an iconic vessel, she marked the end of the heroic age of polar exploration. It is an honour to have supported this historic discovery.”

Search director David Mearns said of the ship: “She is intact.

“Data from high resolution side scan sonar imagery corresponds exactly with the known dimensions and structural features of this special ship. It is also consistent with events at the time of the sinking.”

In 2022, a British-led expedition located his once-lost ship Endurance, which in 1915 became stuck in pack ice and sank in the Weddell Sea.