Terra Nova Ship That Carried Ill-Fated 1912 Antarctic Expedition Led By Captain Robert Scott Found Sunk Off Greenland
August 16, 2012

Captain Robert Scott’s Ship Terra Nova Ship Found Sunken Off Greenland

Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

More than a hundred years after Captain Robert F. Scott´s doomed expedition to the Antarctic Circle and the South Pole, his ship, the SS Terra Nova, has been discovered sunk off the coast of Greenland.

Scott and his expedition team arrived at the South Pole in January 1912, only to realize he had been beaten by 33 days by a Norwegian team led by Roald Amundsen. Fraught by defeat, Scott´s entire party died on the return trip home from exhaustion, starvation and the extreme cold. Their bodies and journals belonging to them were later discovered during a search mission.

The Terra Nova, the ship that carried the team to the vast icy wasteland, continued on as a fishing vessel, wartime trading boat and supply ship for another 3 decades before it too met its fate in an similar icy way. Built in Dundee in 1884, the Terra Nova was damaged by an iceberg in 1943 and sunk off the coast of Greenland. The Terra Nova's crew was saved by the US Coast Guard cutter Southwind.

Now, nearly 70 years later, research company Schmidt Ocean Institute has found the wreckage during routine testing of echosounder equipment aboard its flagship vessel - the R/V Falkor. One scientist, Jonathan Beaudoin, from the University of New Hampshire, noticed an unidentified feature during sonar mapping.

Beaudoin and colleague Leighton Rolley then noted the length of the feature, some 190 feet, matched the length of the Terra Nova.

Technicians dropped a submersible camera called Shrimp to investigate the seabed and film the object. The wreckage footage was unmistakable and the team were thrilled with their accidental findings. The Terra Nova was believed to be in the area but nobody had been able to locate it until now. The team was able to identify the ship using historical photos of the Terra Nova.

“The discovery of the lost SS Terra Nova, one of the most famous polar exploration vessels, was an exciting achievement,” said Rolley.

Brian Kelly, the education officer at the Discovery Point heritage museum in Dundee, said the discovery was amazing.

“It is remarkable that the Terra Nova has been found now, 100 years on from the race to the pole, the death of Scott and four of his crew, and in the year of various events to commemorate that occasion,” he told the Telegraph.

Kelly noted the ship was in a severe state and due to depth, over 1,000 feet, a salvage operation would be unlikely.

“The Terra Nova has such a story,” Kelly also told the Daily Record newspaper. “She went through a lot in her lengthy history and really was the pinnacle of Scottish wooden shipbuilding."