The vessel that British explorer Capt. James Cook used to sail to Australia in the late 1700s may lie at the bottom of Newport Harbor, R.I.
The HMS Endeavour, later called the Lord Sandwich, is believed to be among a group of ships scuttled there as a blockade during the American Revolution. The Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project, a nonprofit that does maritime history and marine archaeology research, says there is an 80 percent to 100 percent chance the Endeavour is still in the port.
In 2014, the Australian National Maritime Museum agreed to help the executive director of the Rhode Island project, D.K. ("Kathy") Abbass, locate the vessel.
When the deal was announced, museum Director Kevin Sumption said, "To be able to find the last resting place of the Endeavour would truly be a nationally significant event, if not internationally," according to Australia's news.com.au.
Abbass, who has been combing the Rhode Island area for years, told Rhode Island Public Radio that researchers have found more than 200 ships dating to the American Revolution in the Narragansett Bay. From British vessels, they've uncovered bits of chain, line and weapons. (You can hear that interview here.)
The Australian news site has this history about Cook, who commanded the Endeavour from 1768-1771:
"Iain McCalman, a history professor at the University of Sydney, said Cook is considered the founding father of European-settled Australia, where England eventually set up a penal colony.
"But to the country's indigenous people, Cook is considered the first invader.
" 'For some people, it would be a really wonderfully kind of exciting thing to have the Endeavour raised and brought, if possible, to Australia — whatever's left of it,' McCalman said.
"For many indigenous people, the celebration of Cook's voyage 'is a kind of sad moment. It's the end of their freedom, in a sense'."