Thursday, August 23, 2012

Terra Nova Found

When events happened a century ago, it's easy to get confused...
When news broke of the discovery of Captain Scott's ship, the Terra Nova, I immediately recalled a ship engulfed in ice off Antarctica. But upon googling photos, I found that I was confused with Sir Ernest Shackleton's polar ship Endurance, which was famously trapped in pack ice for several years and eventually crushed in 1915, in the Weddell Sea.
Terra Nova:
Antarctic 'road trip'
So, what then of SS Terra Nova? Well, it was built in 1884 for the Dundee whaling and sealing fleet (working for 10yrs in the Labrador Sea), but became better known as a polar expedition ship. It was most famous for the ill-fated 1910 Antarctic expedition, in which Scott and his entire party died.
After that trip, its new owners based it in Nova Scotia, Canada from 1914-1942. It worked in the seasonal Newfoundland seal fishery during the months of March and April, though was generally laid up for the rest of the year.
During WWI it made some trading voyages around the Canadian coast, and at least one voyage to Cardiff, England with pitprops.
In 1943 it was carrying supplies for US bases in Greenland. On Sunday 12 Sept., while crossing from Greenland to Newfoundland, it struck ice and developed a bad leak. Its SOS was answered by US Coast Guard cutter Atak which next day picked up the crew.
loading: Pt.Chalmers, NZ
The cutter then finished off the sinking ship with 23 rounds of 3" gunfire. Its approximate last position was 60°30'N 46°30'W, off the SW coast of Greenland.
Terra Nova was found again recently, its wreckage located during routine testing of echo-sounder equipment. Though known to be in that area, its exact location was unknown.
Brian Kelly works at a museum in Dundee, Scotland, where Terra Nova was built: "It is incredible that one of the most famous ships in history has been found 100 years after the race for the pole and in the year commemorating the event. (It) really was the pinnacle of Scottish wooden shipbuilding."
Because of the depth the ship was found at, its condition, and the cost of any salvage operation, its unlikely the wreck will be recovered.

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