The local link to the discovery of HMS Endeavour

HMS Endeavour -  has the last resting pla ce finally being discovered?
HMS Endeavour - has the last resting pla ce finally being discovered?

The discovery of a wrecked ship off the East Coast of America has made headlines all over the world.

And, it has certainly created a wave of excitement in Horncastle.

Sir Joseph Banks.

Sir Joseph Banks.

Experts believe they have found the final resting place of Captain James Cook’s ship HMS Endeavour.

The possible discovery of the ship Cook sailed to Australia in 1770 could solve one of the greatest ever maritime mysteries - exactly where the Endeavour sank.

However, it wasn’t just Cook who was an important figure on that pioneering voyage all those years ago.

He was accompanied by Sir Joseph Banks who is widely accepted as the most famous person in Horncastle’s illustrious history.

It is the many discoveries Banks made on that voyage which earned him the reputation as one of the world’s greatest botanists...an accolade that still stands today.

When Endeavour set sail, very little was known about Australia.

The voyage changed all that.

Horncastle resident Paul Scott is an expert on the life of Banks.

Mr Scott, a director of Joseph Banks Limited, said: “If it is Endeavour, it would be a very exciting find indeed.

“It is ironic that the founding of early Australia depended on prison ships and the transportation of convicts - and Endeavour ended her days as a prison ship.”

Endeavour was renamed ‘Lord Sandwich 2’ and was used by the British to imprison Americans captured during the War of Independence.

She was scuttled, along with 12 other vessels, off Newport, Rhode Island in August 1778 to act as a blockade.

For the last 25 years, experts have been searching for the wreckage.

The breakthrough was announced last Friday when Kathy Abbass, director of the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project, told reporters: “We can say we think we know which one it is.

“It is exciting, we are closing in.

“This is a vessel that is significant to people around the world.”

According to reports, the wreckage is is thought to be located just off Goat Island, a small island in the Narragansett Bay.

There are plans to try and excavate the sunken vessel next year - the 250th anniversary of the arrival of Cook and Banks in Australia.

If it is Endeavour - and if the ship can be raised to the surface - Britain could well stake a claim for the wreckage to be housed in the UK.

No doubt Mr Scott and members of the Banks Society would all welcome that.