quest, sir ernest shackleton's ship, shipwreck found in Canada

3 images

All images courtesy of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society

Shipwreck of renowned polar explorer Ernest Shackleton discovered in Canadian waters

14 June 2024 • Written by Dea Jusufi

An expedition led by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS) has uncovered the wreck of the 33.8-metre Quest, which served as polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton's final expedition vessel and marked the end of the Heroic Age of Polar Exploration. 

Quest was discovered by sonar equipment lying at a depth of 390 metres off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

The sonar scan of Quest's wreckage

Shackleton died on board Quest in 1922 off the island of South Georgia in the South Atlantic, on his fourth journey to the Antarctic. Just seven years before, he had made history by enabling the survival of all 27 members of his crew after their ship, Endurance, was trapped and sunk by sea ice during the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Built in Norway in 1917, Quest reverted to Norwegian ownership after Shackleton's death until 1962, where she sank in the waters off of Mi’kmaq, Innu and Inuit territories while on a sealing expedition.

The expedition team included Jan Chojecki, grandson of John Quiller Rowett, the man who financed Shackleton’s final journey to the Antarctic. Also on board was Norwegian Tore Topp, whose family owned Quest from 1923 to 1962.

According to an official statement by the RCGS, the discovery was made by researching historic logs and maps and cross referencing the historical data with current technology. They then determined where the ship may have been located based on currents, weather conditions and other factors.

Sir Ernest Shackleton

"Finding Quest is one of the final chapters in the extraordinary story of Sir Ernest Shackleton," said expedition leader John Geiger, CEO of the RCGS. "Shackleton was known for his courage and brilliance as a leader in crisis. The tragic irony is that his was the only death to take place on any of the ships under his direct command."

Expedition co-patron Alexandra Shackleton added: “My grandfather, Sir Ernest Shackleton, had purchased Quest with the intention of leading a Canadian Arctic expedition. It is perhaps fitting that the ship should have ended its storied service in Canadian waters. I have long hoped for this day and am grateful to those who made this incredible discovery."

The discovery marked the 150th anniversary of Shackleton's birth.

Read More/Watch: Explorer Mike Horn on adventure, climate action and his viral iceberg moment

Sponsored listings