HMS Endeavour 1764

HMS Endeavour, also known as HM Bark Endeavour, was a British Royal Navy research vessel commanded by Lieutenant James Cook on his first voyage of discovery, to Australia and New Zealand from 1769 to 1771.

Launched in 1764 as the collier Earl of Pembroke, she was purchased by the Navy in 1768 for a scientific mission to the Pacific Ocean, and to explore the seas for the surmised Terra Australis Incognita or "unknown southern land". Renamed and commissioned as His Majesty's Bark the Endeavour, she departed Plymouth in August 1768, rounded Cape Horn, and reached Tahiti in time to observe the 1769 transit of Venus across the Sun. She then set sail into the largely uncharted ocean to the south, stopping at the Pacific islands of Huahine, Borabora, and Raiatea to allow Cook to claim them for Great Britain. In September 1769, she anchored off New Zealand, the first European vessel to reach the islands since Abel Tasman's Heemskerck 127 years earlier. In April 1770, Endeavour became the first seagoing vessel to reach the east coast of Australia, when Cook went ashore at what is now known as Botany Bay.
Endeavour then sailed north along the Australian coast. She narrowly avoided disaster after running aground on the Great Barrier Reef, and was beached on the mainland for seven weeks to permit rudimentary repairs to her hull. On 10 October 1770, she limped into port in Batavia (now named Jakarta) in the Dutch East Indies for more substantial repairs, her crew sworn to secrecy about the lands they had discovered. She resumed her westward journey on 26 December, rounded the Cape of Good Hope on 13 March 1771, and reached the English port of Dover on 12 July, having been at sea for nearly three years.

Largely forgotten after her epic voyage, Endeavour spent the next three years shipping Navy stores to the Falkland Islands. Renamed and sold into private hands in 1775, she briefly returned to naval service as a troop transport during the American Revolutionary War and was scuttled in a blockade of Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island in 1778. Her wreck has not been precisely located, but relics, including six of her cannons and an anchor, are displayed at maritime museums worldwide. A replica of Endeavour was launched in 1994 and is berthed alongside the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney Harbour.


Endeavour was originally a merchant collier named Earl of Pembroke, launched in June 1764 from the coal and whaling port of Whitby in North Yorkshire. She was ship-rigged and sturdily built with a broad, flat bow, a square stern and a long box-like body with a deep hold. Her length was 106 feet (32 m), and 97 feet 7 inches (29.74 m) on her lower deck, with a beam of 29 feet 3 inches (8.92 m). Her burthen was 368 71/94 tons.

A flat-bottomed design made her well-suited to sailing in shallow waters and allowed her to be beached for loading and unloading of cargo and for basic repairs without requiring a dry dock. Her hull, internal floors and futtocks were built from traditional white oak, her keel and stern post from elm and her masts from pine and fir. Plans of the ship also show a double keelson to lock the keel, floors and frames in place.

Some doubt exists about the height of her masts, as surviving diagrams of Endeavour depict the body of the vessel only, and not the mast plan. While her main and foremasts are accepted to be a standard 129 and 110 feet (39 and 34 m) respectively, an annotation on one surviving ship plan records the mizzen as "16 yards 29 inches" (15.4 m). If correct, this would produce an oddly truncated mast a full 9 feet (2.7 m) shorter than the standards of the day. Modern research suggests the annotation may be a transcription error and should read "19 yards 29 inches" (24.5 m), which would more closely conform with both the naval standards and the lengths of the other masts. The replica is built to this shorter measurement, as are all current commercial models, and the model in the National Maritime Museum built by the NMM Greenwich.
Purchase and refit by Admiralty
On 16 February 1768, the Royal Society petitioned King George III to finance a scientific expedition to the Pacific to study and observe the 1769 transit of Venus across the sun. Royal approval was granted for the expedition, and the Admiralty elected to combine the scientific voyage with a confidential mission to search the south Pacific for signs of the postulated continent Terra Australis Incognita (or "unknown southern land").

The Royal Society suggested command be given to Scottish geographer Alexander Dalrymple, whose acceptance was conditional on a brevet commission as a captain in the Royal Navy. However, First Lord of the Admiralty Edward Hawke refused, going so far as to say he would rather cut off his right hand than give command of a Navy vessel to someone not educated as a seaman. In refusing Dalrymple's command, Hawke was influenced by previous insubordination aboard the sloop HMS Paramour in 1698, when naval officers had refused to take orders from civilian commander Dr. Edmond Halley. The impasse was broken when the Admiralty proposed James Cook, a naval officer with a background in mathematics and cartography. Acceptable to both parties, Cook was promoted to Lieutenant and named as commander of the expedition.

On 27 May 1768, Cook took command of the Lord Pembroke, valued in March at £2,307. 5s. 6d. but ultimately purchased for £2,840. 10s. 11d. and assigned for use in the Society's expedition. was refitted at Deptford on the River Thames, the hull sheathed and caulked to protect against shipworm, and a third internal deck installed to provide cabins, a powder magazine and storerooms. The new cabins provided around 2 square metres (22 sq ft) of floorspace apiece and were allocated to Cook and the Royal Society representatives: naturalist Joseph Banks, Banks' assistants Daniel Solander and Herman Spöring, astronomer Charles Green, and artists Sydney Parkinson and Alexander Buchan. These cabins encircled the officer's mess. The Great Cabin at the rear of the deck was designed as a workroom for Cook and the Royal Society. On the rear lower deck, cabins facing on to the mate's mess were assigned to Lieutenants Zachary Hicks and John Gore, ship's surgeon William Monkhouse, the gunner Stephen Forwood, ship's master Robert Molyneux, and the captain's clerk Richard Orton. The adjoining open mess deck provided sleeping and living quarters for the marines and crew, and additional storage space.

A longboat, pinnace and yawl were provided as ship's boats, though the longboat was rotten and had to be rebuilt and painted with white lead before it could be brought aboard. These were accompanied by two privately owned skiffs, one belonging to the boatswain John Gathrey, and the other to Banks. The ship was also equipped with a set of 28 ft (8.5 m) sweeps to allow her to be rowed forward if becalmed or demasted. The refitted vessel was commissioned as His Majesty's Bark the Endeavour, to distinguish her from another Endeavour already commissioned in the Royal Navy, a 14-gun sloop.

On 21 July 1768, Endeavour sailed to Galleon's Reach to take on armaments to protect her against potentially hostile Pacific island natives. Ten 4-pounder cannons were brought aboard, six of which were mounted on the upper deck and the remainder stowed in the hold. Twelve swivel guns were also supplied, and fixed to posts along the quarterdeck, sides and bow. The ship departed for Plymouth on 30 July, for provisioning and to board her crew of 85, including 12 Royal Marines. Cook also ordered that twelve tons of pig iron be brought on board as sailing ballast.

Outward voyage

Endeavour departed Plymouth on 26 August 1768, carrying 94 people and 18 months of provisions. Livestock on board included pigs, poultry, two greyhounds and a milking goat.

The first port of call was Funchal in the Madeira Islands, which Endeavour reached on 12 September. The ship was recaulked and painted, and fresh vegetables, beef and water brought aboard for the next leg of the voyage. While in port, an accident cost the life of the master's mate Robert Weir, who became entangled in the anchor cable and was dragged overboard when the anchor was released. To replace him, Cook shanghaiied a sailor from an American sloop anchored nearby.

Endeavour then continued south along the coast of Africa and across the Atlantic to South America, arriving in Rio de Janeiro on 13 November 1768. Fresh food and water were brought aboard and the ship departed for Cape Horn, which she reached during stormy weather on 13 January 1769. However, attempts to round the Cape over the next two days were unsuccessful, with Endeavour repeatedly driven back by wind, rain and contrary tides. Cook noted that the seas off the Cape were large enough to regularly submerge the bow of the ship as she rode down the crests of waves. At last, on 16 January the wind eased and the ship was able to pass the Cape and anchor in the Bay of Good Success on the Pacific coast. The crew were sent to collect wood and water, while Banks and his team gathered hundreds of plant specimens from along the icy shore. On 17 January two of Banks' servants died from cold while attempting to return to the ship during a heavy snowstorm.

Endeavour resumed her voyage on 21 January 1769, heading west-northwest into warmer weather. She reached Tahiti on 10 April, where she remained for the next two months. The transit of Venus across the Sun occurred on 3 June, and was observed and recorded by astronomer Charles Green from Endeavour’s deck.

Pacific Exploration

The transit observed, Endeavour departed Tahiti on 13 July and headed northwest to allow Cook to survey and name the Society Islands. Landfall was made at Huahine, Raiatea and Borabora, providing opportunities for Cook to claim each of them as British territories. However, an attempt to land the pinnace on the Austral Island of Rurutu was thwarted by rough surf and the rocky shoreline. On 15 August, Endeavour finally turned south to explore the open ocean for Terra Australis Incognita.

In October 1769, Endeavour reached the coastline of New Zealand, becoming the first European vessel to do so since Abel Tasman's Heemskerck in 1642. Unfamiliar with such ships, the Maori people at Cook's first landing point in Poverty Bay thought the ship was a floating island, or a gigantic bird from their mythical homeland of Hawaiki. Endeavour spent the next six months sailing close to shore, while Cook mapped the coastline and reached the conclusion that New Zealand comprised two large islands and was not the hoped-for Terra Australis. In March 1770, the longboat from Endeavour carried Cook ashore to allow him to formally proclaim British sovereignty over New Zealand. On his return, Endeavour resumed her voyage westward, her crew sighting the east coast of Australia on 19 April. On 29 April, she became the first European vessel to make landfall on the east coast of Australia, when Cook landed one of the ship's boats on the southern shore of what is now known as Botany Bay, New South Wales.

An 1893 chart showing Endeavour’s track

For the next four months, Cook charted the coast of Australia, heading generally northward. Just before 11 pm on 11 June 1770, the ship struck a reef, today called Endeavour Reef, within the Great Barrier Reef system. The sails were immediately taken down, a kedging anchor set and an unsuccessful attempt was made to drag the ship back to open water. The reef Endeavour had struck rose so steeply from the seabed that although the ship was hard aground, Cook measured depths up to 70 feet (21 m) less than one ship's length away.

Cook then ordered that the ship be lightened to help her float off the reef. Iron and stone ballast, spoiled stores and all but four of the ship's guns were thrown overboard, and the ship's drinking water pumped out. Buoys were attached to the discarded guns with the intention of retrieving them later, but this proved impractical. Every man on board took turns on the pumps, including Cook and Banks.

When, by Cook's reckoning, about 40 to 50 long tons (41 to 51 t) of equipment had been thrown overboard, on the next high tide a second unsuccessful attempt was made to pull the ship free. In the afternoon of 12 June, the longboat carried out two large bower anchors, and block and tackle were rigged to the anchor chains to allow another attempt on the evening high tide. The ship had started to take on water through a hole in her hull. Although the leak would certainly increase once off the reef, Cook decided to risk the attempt and at 10:20 pm the ship was floated on the tide and successfully drawn off. The anchors were retrieved, except for one which could not be freed from the seabed and had to be abandoned.

As expected the leak increased once the ship was off the reef, and all three working pumps had to be continually manned. A mistake occurred in sounding the depth of water in the hold, when a new man measured the length of a sounding line from the outside plank of the hull where his predecessor had used the top of the cross-beams. The mistake suggested the water depth had increased by about 18 inches (46 cm) between soundings, sending a wave of fear through the ship. As soon as the mistake was realised, redoubled efforts kept the pumps ahead of the leak.

The prospects if the ship sank were grim. The vessel was 24 miles (39 km) from shore and the three ship's boats could not carry the entire crew. Despite this, the journal of Joseph Banks noted the calm efficiency of the crew in the face of danger, contrary to stories he had heard of seamen panicking or refusing command in such circumstances.

Midshipman Jonathon Monkhouse proposed fothering the ship, as he had previously been on a merchant ship which used the technique successfully. He was entrusted with supervising the task, sewing bits of oakum and wool into an old sail, which was then drawn under the ship to allow water pressure to force it into the hole in the hull. The effort succeeded and soon very little water was entering, allowing two of the three pumps to be stopped.

Endeavour then resumed her course northward and parallel to the reef, the crew looking for a safe harbour in which to make repairs. On 13 June, the ship came to a broad watercourse that Cook named the Endeavour River. Attempts were made to enter the river mouth, but strong winds and rain prevented Endeavour from crossing the bar until the morning of 17 June. Briefly grounded on a sand spit, she was refloated an hour later and warped into the river proper by early afternoon. The ship was promptly beached on the southern bank and careened to make repairs to the hull. Torn sails and rigging were also replaced and the hull scraped free of barnacles.

An examination of the hull showed that a piece of coral the size of a man's fist had sliced clean through the timbers and then broken off. Surrounded by pieces of oakum from the fother, this coral fragment had helped plug the hole in the hull and preserved the ship from sinking on the reef.
Northward to Batavia

After waiting for the wind, Endeavour resumed her voyage on the afternoon of 5 August 1770, reaching the northern-most point of Cape York Peninsula fifteen days later. On 22 August, Cook was rowed ashore to a small coastal island to proclaim British sovereignty over the eastern Australian mainland. Cook christened his landing place Possession Island, and the occasion was marked by ceremonial volleys of gunfire from the shore and Endeavour's deck.
Endeavour then resumed her voyage westward along the coast, picking a path through intermittent shoals and reefs with the help of the pinnace which was rowed ahead to test the water depth. By 26 August she was out of sight of land, and had entered the open waters of the Torres Strait between Australia and New Guinea, earlier navigated by Luis Váez de Torres in 1606. To keep Endeavour’s voyages and discoveries secret, Cook confiscated the log books and journals of all on board and ordered them to remain silent about where they had been.

After a three-day layover off the island of Savu, Endeavour sailed on to Batavia, the capital of the Dutch East Indies, on 10 October. A day later the ship was struck by lightning during a sudden tropical storm, but serious damage was avoided thanks to the rudimentary "electric chain" or lightning rod that Cook had ordered rigged to Endeavour’s mast.

The ship remained in very poor condition following her grounding on the Great Barrier Reef in June. The ship's carpenter John Seetterly observed that she was "very leaky - makes from twelve to six inches an hour, occasioned by her main keel being wounded in many places, false keel gone from beyond the midships. Wounded on her larbord side where the greatest leak is but I could not come at it for the water." An inspection of the hull revealed that some unrepaired planks were cut through to within ? inch (3 mm). Cook noted it was a "surprise to every one who saw her bottom how we had kept her above water" for the previous three-month voyage across open seas.

After riding at anchor for two weeks, Endeavour was heaved out of the water on 9 November and laid on her side for repairs. Some damaged timbers were found to be infested with shipworms, which required careful removal to ensure they did not spread throughout the hull. Broken timbers were replaced and the hull recaulked, scraped for shellfish and marine flora, and repainted. Finally, the rigging and pumps were renewed and fresh stores brought aboard for the return journey to England. Repairs and replenishment were completed by Christmas Day 1770, and the next day Endeavour weighed anchor and set sail westward towards the Indian Ocean

Route of the Endeavour from the Torres Strait to Java, August and September 1770
Return voyage

Return voyageThough Endeavour was now in good condition, her crew were not. During the ship's stay in Batavia, all but 10 of the 94 people aboard had been taken ill with malaria and dysentery. By the time Endeavour set sail on 26 December, seven crew members had died and another forty were too sick to attend their duties. Over the following twelve weeks, a further 23 died from disease and were buried at sea, including Spöring, Green, Parkinson, and the ship's surgeon William Monkhouse.

Cook attributed the sickness to polluted drinking water, and ordered that it be purified with lime juice, but this had little effect. Jonathan Monkhouse, who had proposed fothering the ship to save her from sinking on the reef, died on 6 February, followed six days later by ship's carpenter John Seetterly, whose skilled repair work in Batavia had allowed Endeavour to resume her voyage. The health of the surviving crew members then slowly improved as the month progressed, with the last deaths from disease being three ordinary seamen on 27 February.

On 13 March 1771, Endeavour rounded the Cape of Good Hope and made port in Cape Town two days later. Those still sick were taken ashore for treatment. The ship remained in port for four weeks awaiting the recovery of the crew and undergoing minor repairs to her masts. On 15 April, the sick were brought back on board along with ten recruits from Cape Town, and Endeavour resumed her homeward voyage. The English mainland was sighted on 10 July and Endeavour entered the port of Dover two days later.

Approximately one month after his return, Cook was promoted to the rank of Commander, and by November 1771 was in receipt of Admiralty Orders for a second expedition, this time aboard HMS Resolution. He was killed during an altercation with native Hawaiians at Kealakekua Bay on 14 February 1779.
Later service

While Cook was feted for his successful voyage, Endeavour was largely forgotten. Within a week of her return to England, she was directed to Woolwich Dockyard for refitting as a naval transport. She then made two routine return voyages to the Falkland Islands, the first to deliver provisions and the second to bring home the British garrison. She was paid off in September 1774, and in March 1775 was sold by the Navy to shipping magnate J. Mather for £645.

Mather renamed the increasingly decrepit ship Lord Sandwich and returned her to sea for at least one commercial voyage to Archangel in Russia. In late 1775, he was asked by the Admiralty to provide one of his ships to transport soldiers to North America to help defeat the colonial militia during the American Revolution. Mather offered to return the ageing Lord Sandwich to military service, but her condition was so poor that she was declared unseaworthy. After extensive repairs the ship was finally accepted as a troop transport in February 1776 and embarked a contingent of Hessian soldiers bound for New York and Rhode Island. Upon delivery of her human cargo, Lord Sandwich sailed to Newport, which had been occupied by British forces in December 1776. There she was retained at anchor and intermittently used as a prison ship under the British flag.
Final resting place

Endeavour’s end came in August 1778, when the British occupation of Newport was threatened by a fleet carrying French soldiers in support of the Continental Army. The British commander, Captain John Brisbane, determined to blockade Newport Harbor by sinking surplus vessels in its approaches. Between 3 and 6 August, a fleet of Royal Navy frigates and transports, including Lord Sandwich, were scuttled at various locations in Narragansett Bay.

The owners of the sunken vessels were compensated by the Admiralty for the loss of their ships. The Admiralty valuation for the sunken vessel recorded the specifications of Lord Sandwich as matching those of the former Endeavour, including construction in Whitby, a burthen of 368 and 71/94 tons, and re-entry into Navy service on 10 February 1776.

In 1834 a letter appeared in the Providence Journal of Rhode Island, drawing attention to the possible presence of the former Endeavour on the seabed of the bay. This was swiftly disputed by the British consul in Rhode Island, who wrote claiming that Endeavour had been bought from Mather by the French in 1790 and renamed La Liberte. The consul later admitted he had heard this not from the Admiralty, but as hearsay from the former owners of the French ship. It was later suggested the Liberty, which sank off Newport in 1793, was in fact another of Cook's ships, the former HMS Resolution, or another Endeavour, a naval schooner sold out of service in 1782. A further letter to the Providence Journal stated that a retired English sailor was conducting guided tours of a hulk on the River Thames as late as 1825, claiming that the ship had once been Cook's Endeavour.

In 1991 the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project, or RIMAP, began research into the identity of the ten transports sunk as part of the Narragansett Bay blockade, including whether the Lord Sandwich recorded as having sunk there was originally Cook's Endeavour. Evidence from the Public Records Office in London confirmed that Endeavour had been renamed Lord Sandwich, had served as a troop transport to North America, and had been scuttled as part of the blockade of Narragansett Bay.

In 1999 a combined research team from RIMAP and the Australian National Maritime Museum began examining known wrecks in the Bay, to determine if any could be Endeavour. In 2000, a site was identified containing the remains of one of the blockaded vessels, partly covered by a separate wreck of a twentieth-century barge. The older remains were those of a vessel of the same size, design and materials of Lord Sandwich, the ex-Endeavour.

Confirmation that Cook's former ship was indeed in Narragansett Bay sparked considerable media and public interest in confirming her location. However, while researchers were able to photograph relics at the site, including a cannon, an anchor and part of an eighteenth-century ceramic teapot, too little evidence existed to definitively establish that this particular wreck had been Cook's ship. In 2006, the Director of RIMAP announced that the wreck would not be raised

Endeavour relics

In addition to the search for the remains of the ship herself, there was considerable Australian interest in locating relics of the ship's south Pacific voyage. In 1886, the Working Men's Progress Association of Cooktown sought to recover the six cannons thrown overboard when Endeavour grounded on the Great Barrier Reef. A £300 reward was offered for anyone who could locate and recover the guns, but searches that year and the next were fruitless and the money went unclaimed. Remains of equipment left at Endeavour River were discovered in around 1900, and in 1913 the crew of a merchant steamer erroneously claimed to have recovered an Endeavour cannon from shallow water near the Reef.

In 1937, a small part of Endeavour’s keel was gifted to the Australian Government by philanthropist Charles Wakefield in his capacity as President of the Admiral Arthur Phillip Memorial. Australian Prime Minister Joseph Lyons described the section of keel as "intimately associated with the discovery and foundation of Australia".

Searches were resumed for the lost Endeavour Reef cannons, but expeditions in 1966, 1967, and 1968 were unsuccessful. They were finally recovered in 1969 by a research team from the American Academy of Natural Sciences, using a sophisticated magnetometer to locate the cannons, a quantity of iron ballast and the abandoned bower anchor. Conservation work on the cannons was undertaken by the Australian National Maritime Museum, after which two of the cannons were displayed at its headquarters in Sydney's Darling Harbour. A third cannon and the bower anchor were displayed at the James Cook Museum in Cooktown, with the remaining three at maritime museums in London, Philadelphia, and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington.

Replica vessel

In January 1988, to commemorate the Australian Bicentenary of European settlement in Australia, work began in Fremantle, Western Australia on a replica of Endeavour. Financial difficulties delayed completion until December 1993, and the vessel was not commissioned until April 1994. The replica vessel commenced her maiden voyage in October of that year, sailing to Sydney Harbour and then following Cook's path from Botany Bay northward to Cooktown. From 1996 to 2002, the replica retraced Cook's ports of call around the world, arriving in the original Endeavour’s home port of Whitby in June 2002. Footage of waves shot while rounding Cape Horn on this voyage was later used in digitally composited scenes in the 2003 film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.

The replica Endeavour visited various European ports before undertaking her final ocean voyage from Whitehaven to Sydney Harbour on 8 November 2004. Her arrival in Sydney was delayed when she ran aground in Botany Bay, a short distance from the point where Cook first set foot in Australia 235 years earlier. The replica Endeavour finally entered Sydney Harbour on 17 April 2005, having travelled 170,000 nautical miles (310,000 km), including twice around the world. Ownership of the replica was transferred to the Australian National Maritime Museum in 2005 for permanent service as a museum ship in Sydney's Darling Harbour

A second full-size replica of Endeavour is berthed on the River Tees in Stockton-on-Tees. While this reflects the external dimensions of Cook's vessel, this replica was constructed with a steel rather than a timber frame, has one less internal deck than the original, and is not designed to be put to sea.
The Russell Museum, in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand has a sea-going one-fifth scale replica of the Endeavour. It was built in Auckland and during 1969 – 70 it sailed some 15,000 miles (24,000 km) in New Zealand and Australia.


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