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HMS Endurance (Shackleton Expedition)

The Shackleton Expedition is considered to be one of the finest stories of human survival, tenacity, and grit from the early 20th Century’s great age of exploration. 

December 5, 1914– Explorer Ernest Shackleton and the HMS Endurance left South Georgia for the Antarctic with the goal of reaching the South Pole via the Weddell Sea coast. Upon departure, the Endurance carried 27 men (including a stowaway), 69 dogs, and a tomcat mis-named Mrs. Chippy. 

January 18, 1914– The Endurance became completely stuck in an ice floe. The trapped ship drifted along with the slowing-shifting floe for ten months, until it was eventually crushed into splinters from the intense pressure of the colliding sheets of the ice. Gathering together limited provisions, the crew (pulling the lifeboats) hiked out over the ice towards Elephant Island. The ice floe broke up (with Elephant Island in in sight) and the men fled ice for water in the lifeboats and sailed six more days towards the tiny, rocky inhabited island. 

April 24, 1916– Running low on food and hope for rescue, Shackleton, Captain Worsley, and four crew members modified one of the remaining lifeboats (named the James Caird), promised to return for the others, and set out from Elephant Island for a whaling station on the island of South Georgia. Sixteen difficult days at sea and 800+ miles later, Shackleton landed (pretty miraculously) on the shores of South Georgia, a small island located 1,243 miles off the coast of South America– but due to a powerful storm they landed on the opposite side of the island, and on the wrong side of a mountain range from the whaling station. Wet, cold, tired, and exhausted, Shackleton took nails from the James Caird, put them through the bottom of his boots for traction, and hiked three days over mountains and glaciers to the whaling station.

September 3, 1916– Following three previous unsuccessful rescue attempts, Shackleton returned to Elephant Island for the Endurance’s remaining crew. Twenty months after the HMS Endurance first set sail for Antarctica, every single member of the Shackleton’s crew was still alive. 

Shackleton tried unsuccessfully several years later to reach the South Pole but died in route.

This LEGO Ideas proposal captures the HMS Endurance and its crew stuck in the Antarctic ice. Several crew members are chopping at the ice floe, while others are removing lifeboats for transportation, ice fishing, and playing a friendly if freezing game of football/soccer (there is a fantastic real-life photograph of this game by expedition photographer Frank Hurley). The proposal includes a complete version of the HMS Endurance (easily removable from the hollow ice floe base), the James Caird, Shackleton, Worsley, Hurley, seven of the toughest-ever LEGO minifigures, five sled dogs, and the intrepid Mrs.Chippy.

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