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Piece of kentledge from HMB ENDEAVOUR

Date: 18th century
Overall: 90 × 14 × 13.5 cm, 119 kg
Medium: Pig iron
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Transfer from the Department of Transport and Communications
Classification:Vessels and fittings
Object Name: Ballast
Object No: 00029128
Place Manufactured:England
Related Place:Endeavour reef,

User Terms

    A piece of kentledge, or pig iron, from the Captain James Cook's ship HMB ENDEAVOUR. This piece of ballast was discarded by Captain Cook when the vessel struck the Great Barrier Reef on 10 June, 1770. It was later found, encased in coral, on the ocean floor off Queensland in 1969.

    Kentledge weights, often scrap or pig iron, were used as permanent ballast on ships to provide stability. In order to lighten a vessel the weights were removed, or thrown overboard as in this case, and later replaced when needed by rocks or stone from other locations.
    SignificanceWhen the ENDEAVOUR became stuck on the Great Barrier Reef, it was not initially clear that the vessel could be saved. Considering the substantial damage sustained, even if they could free ENDEAVOUR, where and how could repairs be carried out?
    What a different Cook story would have told if the ENDEVOUR ended the journey there. This piece of kentledge represents the action of a desperate crew to save their vessel and the significant repairs that took place over the following weeks at the mouth of the Endeavour River.
    HistoryCook's famous ship of discovery was built in 1764 and initially named the EARL OF PEMBROKE. It began service as a collier on the east coast of England and was later purchased by the British Admiralty in 1768, fitted out for a voyage to the South Pacific with the intention of viewing the transit of Venus and locating the Great South Land. The Royal Navy renamed the vessel HMB ENDEAVOUR.

    Under Cook's command and during his first expedition to the Pacific HMB ENDEAVOUR arrived in Tahiti to view the transit of Venus in June 1769. Cook then sailed south and reached New Zealand in October 1769, as 'discovered' by Abel Tasman in 1642. After mapping both the north and south islands, Cook started the journey home. It was during this voyage that he first approached eastern Australia. An attempt to land on 28 April 1770 failed due to rough surf, and Cook sailed ENDEAVOUR round to a calm bay, now known as Botany Bay. Here on 29 April 1770, Cook and his crew first set foot on Australian soil. The extensive report he complied on Botany Bay underlined the safety of the harbour and availability of fresh water, and influenced Arthur Phillip's decision to anchor the First Fleet there on 18 January 1788.

    During the expedition's return passage to England on 11 June 1770, ENDEAVOUR ran aground on what is now called Endeavour Reef in the Great Barrier Reef system. The ship was taking on water and two unsuccessful attempts were made to pull it into open water. Cook decided to lighten ENDEAVOUR's load, discarding about 40 to 50 tons of equipment and ballast before once more trying to float it off the reef. ENDEAVOUR eventually disconnected and Cook sailed up the far north Queensland coast, mooring in a river to make repairs, now called Endeavour River.

    When Cook returned to England from his great circumnavigation in 1771, the Admiralty once again refitted ENDEAVOUR. This time it was used as a store ship for voyages to the Falkland Islands. In 1775, the ENDEAVOUR was discharged from the Royal Navy and believed to have been sold to a merchant, who renamed the vessel LORD SANDWICH and used it as a troop transport. It is believed that the British sank the ship with nine other vessels in 1778 at the entrance to Newport Harbor, Rhode Island, USA during an attempt to blockade French ships.
    Related Sites Endeavour Reef

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