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Historic Antarctica Weddell Sea expedition sets sail to unearth 'Endurance' wreckage

A team of scientists investigating one of the most remote regions in the Antarctica hiding the "historic" Endurance wreckage have embarked on their expedition.

The S.A. Agulhas II vessel has set sail towards the Larsen C Ice Shelf, the fourth largest ice shelf in the Antarctica, where only a "handful of ships" have traveled to.

The mission is twofold - to unearth British explorer Earnest Shackleton's Endurance ship, which sank in 1915, and to carry out vital climate change research.

If successful, it will be "the first scientific investigation" of that area.

Only a handful of ships have been to the Weddell Sea since Ernest Shackleton’s ship, Endurance, visited the area.

According to the voyagers the "scientific importance" of the region has only been realised in the last 15 to 20 years.

In 2017 an iceberg four times the size of London broke away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf.

Results from the investigation could lead to the discovery of new species and provide better insight into what is happening to sea ice levels around the world.

John Shears, Voyage Leader, told ITV News: "The primary scientific goal of the expedition is to get to the Larsen C ice shelf. The first scientific investigations of that area.

"No one has ever attempted to put an AUV underneath the ice shelf or study the sea ice in that area, so we aim to be the first to that.

"Our secondary objective, since we’re in the area, is to try and find the historic wreck of Ernest Shackleton’s ship, Endurance."

Medals awarded to Frank Worsley one of Ernest Shackleton's key navigators.

British explorer Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton visited the Antarctica in 1915 with the primary aim of becoming the first person to cross the Antarctic.

However, the Endurance never made landfall.

"It got trapped in the ice, floated around with the ice for a little while and ultimately was crushed and sank," Scott Polar Research Institute's Museum Curator Charlotte Connelly told ITV News.

"So that left 28 men with three lifeboats, no one knew where they were, no one was going to come looking for them - they had to get themselves out of that mess."

While six men survived, the wreckage has never been found.

Only six men survived after the Endurance sank.

Despite being armed with coordinates and state-of-the art equipment, the team are still worried it might not be enough.

Mensun Bound, tasked with unearthing Endurance, told ITV News: "There are problems, the one that worries me the most, keeps me awake at night is ice coverage.

"Then we have to ask ourselves, how good is the position for the wreck? Can we find the wreck? We have Worlsey’s [an explorer who served with Shackleton] recorded co-ordinates, but how good are they?

"Latitude is pretty sound, longitude, longitude worries me silly. It’s always longitude. And then, you know what, the sea is a very big place.

What Earnest Shackleton would have used to navigate the Antarctica.

But Mr Shears is optimistic about their chances of finding Endurance and telling its explorers' "incredible story of survival and leadership."

Alongside rediscovering a vital piece of exploration history he is also excited about putting a free swimming robot, an AUV, under the ice shelf of the Larsen C.

The technology could help develop the global research being done on sea ice levels around the world.