The Endurance22 Expedition was the first to deploy SAAB Sabertooth underwater vehicles to search for the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship, Endurance. These hybrid vehicles combine the attributes of a Remote Operating Vehicle (ROV) – always linked to the surface – and an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) – capable of operating without such a link.
When the vessel was crushed in the ice and sank in 1915, Captain Frank Worsley took detailed measurements of the location using a sextant and recorded it in his diary, which is now in the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) archives. Consequently, the expedition team knew where to focus its search efforts and where to deploy the Sabertooths under the ice, in order to locate the wreck.
The Sabertooths have the ability to reach sites up to one hundred miles away from the ship from which they are launched and to return with photos, video and survey data. This meant that even if the sea ice conditions were difficult, it could be possible for the expedition to survey the site of the wreck, even if the expedition ship S.A. Agulhas II couldn’t reach the location itself. (Top image © SAAB AB)