Legendary explorer's 'last ship' discovered off coast of North America

A famed explorer’s ship was recently found in the Atlantic Ocean, Canadian officials say.

A team of Canadian divers found the ship, called Quest, on Sunday during an expedition conducted by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS). Speaking to Fox News Digital on Wednesday, the RCGS explained that the ship was found around 1,280 feet deep in the waters off of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Quest was en route to Antarctica when it sank off the coast of Labrador on May 5, 1962. The vessel had sailed for 45 years up until that point, having made its maiden voyage in 1917.

Four decades before Quest sank, Sir Ernest Shackleton, a polar explorer who led three expeditions to the Antarctic in the early 20th century, died on the ship in 1922.


Canadian divers recently discovered the Quest shipwreck, officials say. Sir Ernest Shackleton had sailed the ship during his expeditions. (RCGS / Getty Images)

The famous explorer had a massive heart attack in his cabin. According to Canadian Geographic, the ship was anchored at Grytviken Harbour on South Georgia Island at the time.

Shackleton’s death is usually marked by historians as the end of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, which began at the end of the 19th century.

In a Canadian Geographic piece about the discovery, shipwreck hunter David Mearns explained that he had researched and analyzed the sonar images of the ship for months.


Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and his wife, circa 1909. (Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

“I can definitively confirm that we have found the wreck of Quest,” Mearns confirmed. “Data from high resolution side-scan sonar imagery corresponds exactly with the known dimensions and structural features of this special ship, and is also consistent with events at the time of the sinking.”

Historians believe that the ship was damaged by ice during a seal hunt when it sank in 1962. The crew members evacuated to nearby ships, and were able to salvage some of the vessel’s cargo and valuables.

An RCGS spokesperson told Fox News Digital that there are no plans to raise the ship from where it currently lies.

“There are no plans to raise it. It would be too difficult to do, and it is an historic artifact,” the official explained. “This expedition was 6 years in the making, and required months of painstaking research of historical records and logs.”


The Quest, which Shackleton sailed on, was in use for over four decades before it sank. (Getty Images)

According to Canadian Geographic, divers plan to revisit the site with a remotely operated vehicle to survey more of the wreck. Royal Canadian Geographical Society CEO John Geiger called the discovery of the ship “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 times of crisis,” he noted. “The tragic irony is that his was the only death to take place on any of the ships under his direct command.”

The RCGS told Fox News Digital that its experts are elated about the discovery.

An undated side-scan sonar image shows the wreck of Quest, Sir Ernest Shackleton’s last expedition ship on which he died off the island of South Georgia in the South Atlantic in 1922, as it lies upright and intact on the seabed at a depth of 390 meters northwest of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada in this picture obtained by Reuters on June 12, 2024. (RCGS / Reuters)

“We are thrilled to find it, and hope it inspires others to live courageously, as Sir Ernest Shackleton always did,” the spokesperson said.

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Andrea Vacchiano is a breaking news writer for Fox News Digital and Fox Business. You can follow her on X at @andrea_vacch or send story tips to [email protected].

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