For more than a century, most people believed that HMB Endeavour had been sold to France, eventually renamed La Liberte, and then ran aground off Newport, Rhode Island in 1793. The hulk of La Liberte rotted at a Newport pier until 1828; pieces were cut off the ship and sold as souvenirs.

More recent studies confirm that La Liberte was not Endeavour after all. In 1997, Australian researchers Mike Connell and Des Liddy found that La Liberte had actually been HMS Resolution, one of the two ships which Cook took along on his second voyage.

So what happened to Endeavour herself? She appears to have gone back into the coal-carrying service. In 1998, Dr Kathy Abbass of the Rhode Island Marine Archaology Project found that in 1776, the Royal Navy brought her back into service as a troop transport under the new name Lord Sandwich. James Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, was First Lord of the Admiralty at the time, and commissioned Cook's third (fatal) voyage. Cook went so far as to name some islands after him.

In 1778, Newport was the site of one of the first French interventions in the American Revolutionary War, a joint attempt to take the city from its British occupiers. On August 8, the French attacked Newport from the sea, while American forces attacked from land.

For most of the month, Newport was under seige. But weather and an engagement with Briitish ships battered the French badly. They had to put into Boston for repairs, and the Americican besiegers had to withdraw.

However, before the actual attack, the British scuttled 13 of their troop transports and prison ships in Newport's harbor, in an attempt to block the French. While researching Royal Navy records, Dr. Abbass found that one of these ships had been named Lord Sandwich!

So, at least two of Cook's ships appear to have met their ends in Rhode Island.

Things are not yet altogether certain, however. The actual wreck of the Lord Sandwich has not yet been located. To make matters worse, in 1999, the most promising site in Newport Harbor was vandalized by treasure hunters. This last event caused the State of Rhode Island to take control of the sites in 2000.

the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project

"Archaeologists still trying to prove wreck is Endeavour", the Sydney Morning Herald, September 9, 2002

Recent Research

Australian Broadcasting Corporation - The World Today - Search for Endeavour

Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology Newsletter, March 1999