Last week, researchers announced the discovery of the famous polar exploration vessel SS Terra Nova in waters off the southern coast of Greenland. SS Terra Nova was discovered during routine tests of mapping equipment aboard the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s R/V Falcor. The ship is lying in less than 160M of water, but its exact location has not been disclosed by Schmidt Ocean Institute.
Lost in 1943 after a collision with an ice pack, the SS Terra Nova was built in 1884 to withstand the rigors of operating as a whaler and sealer in polar regions. Following a ten year commercial career, the ship served the Jackson-Harmsworth Arctic Expedition from 1894 – 1897. Terra Nova is most famous, though, for its role in Captain Robert Scott’s doomed Terra Nova Expedition (1910 – 1912). Captain Scott and his team of British explorers sought to become the first humans to reach the South Pole; however they were beaten by a Norwegian team led by Roald Amundsen. Amundsen’s party reached the South Pole on December 14, 1911, beating Scott by approximately 30 days. Scott’s team perished on their return trek and their bodies were not discovered until nearly 8 months later. In death, Scott was mythologized throughout his native Britain and has been the subject of numerous books and articles. Historians continue to debate his legacy – historian Roland Huntford’s The Last Place on Earth is a stinging critique of Captain Scott while polar explorer Sir Ranulph Fienne’s Captain Scott defends Scott and the choices he made during the expedition.