The Sea Equivalent of Time Team Thinks it's Found HMS Endeavour

The Endeavour replica heads up the coast off Sydney in 2005

Experts at the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (Rimap) say they have tracked down the resting place of Captain Cook's doomed vessel, which found Australia in 1770.

The search in Newport Harbour, Rhode Island, has pinpointed one or two potential archaeological sites and excavation is expected to begin next year.

Archaeologists from the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM) and the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP) said the origins of the ship can't be confirmed until its remnants are excavated - which researchers expect will happen next year.

"We're not in a position to identify it conclusively", Rimap's Kathy Aththas told News.com.au.

The vessel was purchased in 1768 by the British Admiralty for an expedition to observe the transit of Venus in 1769, The Captain Cook Society reported. That's where the Endeavour, unfortunately renamed Lord Sandwich by a subsequent private owner in its later years, is known to have been scuttled during the American War of Independence in 1778.

The breakthrough has raised hopes the vessel will be excavated next year, in time for the 250th anniversary of Cook's arrival in Australia. Researchers believe the Endeavour was part of a fleet of 13 ships scuttled by the British during the Revolutionary War to blockade Newport Harbour from the French.

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A replica of Captain James Cook's three-masted bark "Endeavour" enters Sydney Harbor, Australia on December 18, 1994.

In 1999 former Rhode Island Attorney-General Sheldon Whitehouse legally ensured Rhode Island's ownership of the historic Newport fleet, including the Lord Sandwich. "It is exciting, we are closing in". In 1768, the famed Cook set sail in the Endeavour on his around-the-world journey during which he claimed Australia for Great Britain.

The full details off the possible discovery will be announced at an "event" on Friday, according to a statement on Rimap's website.

A replica of the Endeavour is in dock at the National Maritime Museum in Sydney, reporter Sarah Maunder spoke to museum visitors and tourists, about what they think of this potentially significant discovery.

And almost 200 years after Cook explored the Pacific, NASA named the Space Shuttle Endeavour after the historic vessel; a wooden piece from the original ship was reportedly in the cockpit of the shuttle when it was blasted into space. The finding comes in time for the 250th anniversary of Cook's voyage from the U.K.to Australia aboard the vessel, the first recorded European contact with that continent.

"We feel has just as much right to say "hey we would like a little bit of Endeavour"," Mr Moran said.

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