Famed SS Terra Nova Shipwreck Discovered Off Greenland

Published Nov 20, 2012 10:40 AM by The Maritime Executive

U.S. researchers have discovered the wreck site of the SS Terra Nova – the ship that Captain Robert Scott sailed on to his ill-fated Antarctic expedition 100 years ago. It was located off Greenland.

In 1910, Capt. Scott and his crew set off aboard the Terra Nova in hopes of becoming the first expedition to reach the South Pole. Upon arrival at the South Pole in January 1912, Scott and his crew realized they had been beat by a Norwegian team led by Roald Amundsen. The polar team led by Scott never made it home; their bodies were found by a search party eight months later, according to a BBC News report.

The routes to the South Pole taken by Scott (green) and Amundsen (red), 1911–1912.

The historic vessel, on the other hand, lived on and ended up sinking in 1943 while making a supply delivery to Arctic base stations after being damaged by ice. Its crew was rescued by U.S. Coast Guard cutter, Southwind.

Back in current times, the wreck has been discovered by a Schmidt Ocean Institute team during echo-sounding equipment testing on the R/V Falkor. An unidentified object was noted during sonar mapping of the sea bed.

An underwater camera package was dropped into the waters below the research vessel to film the presumed wreck. Right across the top of the target, it showed the remains of a wooden wreck lying on the seabed, as well as a funnel next to the ship. The features of the wreck closely matched historical photos of the Terra Nova, leading to the identification.

Once at the pinnacle of Scottish wooden shipbuilding, one of the most famous ships in history has been found 100 years after its South Pole mission in the year commemorating the event.