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Famous ship’s wreck might have been located

A group of archaeologists say they might have found in Narragansett (R.I.) Bay the sunken vessel of 18th-century English explorer Capt. James Cook.

Researchers at the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project recently announced they had found four ships at the bottom of the bay that they believe are part of a 13-vessel fleet sunk by the British in 1778, according to news reports. One of those vessels, they say, is the Lord Sandwich, which records apparently show was once Cook’s Endeavour.

Finding the link between Lord Sandwich and Endeavour was the team’s big break, says RIMAP’s executive director, D.K. Abbass. But she admits that the artifacts found so far — a cannon, an anchor and part of a British teapot — do not link the vessel to Cook, reports say.

Abbass says there is nearly a 50-percent chance that the vessel in question is in fact Endeavour. “Quite frankly, we could be working on her right now and never be able to prove it,” she says in a report.

Cook sailed the Pacific Ocean aboard the 109-foot bark Endeavour from 1768 to 1771, mapping New Zealand and surveying the eastern coast of Australia. The British are said to have sunk the ship, along with the 12 others in its fleet, to hold off American and French forces advancing on Newport, R.I., during the Revolutionary War.

There are no immediate plans to raise Endeavour or the other ships the researchers say they have found, according to reports. It could take years, they say, to fully investigate the shipwrecks.

— Jason Fell