J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Former H.M.S. Endeavour in Newport Harbor

This morning the Rhode Island Marine Archeology Project has scheduled an announcement about its possible discovery of H.M.S. Endeavour, the ship that Capt. James Cook sailed around the world in 1768-1771.

The Royal Navy sold that ship after Cook’s voyage, then bought it back when the Revolutionary War began, sent it to America, and finally scuttled it during the lead-up to the Battle of Rhode Island.

The organization’s webpage explains:
RIMAP has mapped 9 archaeological sites of the 13 ships that were scuttled in Newport Harbor in 1778, during the American Revolution. A recent Australian National Maritime Museum grant allowed RIMAP to locate historic documents in London that identify the groups of ships in that fleet of 13, and where each group was scuttled. One group of 5 ships included the Lord Sandwich transport, formerly Capt. James Cook’s Endeavour Bark.

RIMAP now knows the general area of Newport Harbor where those five ships were scuttled, and in previous work had already mapped 4 of the sites there. A recent analysis of remote sensing data suggests that the 5th site may still exist, too. That means the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project now has an 80 to 100% chance that the Lord Sandwich is still in Newport Harbor, and because the Lord Sandwich was Capt. Cook’s Endeavour, that means RIMAP has found her, too.

On May 4 RIMAP will describe its 2016 plans to confirm the 5th shipwreck in the limited study area, and will outline what must be done in the future to determine which of the 5 sites there is which ship. The next phase of the archaeological investigation will require a more intense study of each vessel’s structure and its related artifacts. However, before that next phase may begin, there must be a proper facility in place to conserve, manage, display, and store the waterlogged material removed from the archaeological sites.
The organization is therefore undertaking a fundraising campaign to complete the project properly.

The Daily Mail in London and Daily News in New York both picked up this story. And it’s probably bigger news in Australia, where the nation traces its British roots back to Cook’s arrival on the east coast in 1770.

(The painting above, courtesy of Wikipedia, shows the Endeavour as Cook left Britain in 1768, looking considerably better than it did in Newport ten years later.)

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