TRAVEL GAZETTE – The Lord Mayor of Melbourne wants the most famous ship in Australia’s history, the British vessel HMS Endeavour, to be returned to the country after its wreckage was recently discovered off the coast of the United States.
Captained by British explorer James Cook, the Endeavour anchored in Sydney’s Botany Bay in 1770.
Cook claimed the land in the name of the Crown, which eventually led to British settlement of the vast continent.
Last week, U.S. maritime archeologists found part of a sunken ship at the bottom of Rhode Island’s Newport Harbor.
They believe the ship is Cook’s and was scuttled as part of the War of Independence in 1778 to blockade the rebelling Americans.
Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Robert Doyle on Monday joined a chorus of politicians and historical experts who believe the long-lost ship should be returned.
“To get Cook’s Endeavour back to Australia is a great idea,” Doyle told News Corp.
Doyle said he’d like the rediscovered ship to be put on show in Melbourne’s Docklands precinct.
“This is a project of national significance and while she may not have sailed into Docklands, I’d love to see it down there …”
Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt agreed with Doyle, saying the ship’s return, in any capacity, would be “deeply meaningful and historic” for Australia.
His colleague, Tourism Minister Richard Colbeck, said Australians would come in droves to see the Endeavour, given its part of Australian history.
“The Australian Maritime Museum’s replica of the Endeavour is very popular, and obviously it would be a fantastic boost for tourism in Australia to be able to see the original,” Colbeck said.
President of the James Cook Society in the UK, Cliff Thornton, said it made perfect sense that the ship would travel back to Australia, even if only for a short time.
“The significance of the remains of the Endeavour is far more important to
Australia than to Newport, so I would hope that the remains eventually are displayed in Australia,” Thornton said.
However, the Endeavour legally belongs to Rhode Island. Executive director of the state’s Marine Archaeology Project, Kathy Abbass, is also on record as saying she’d like to see it remain in Newport.
The wreckage is still yet to be officially identified, but the archeologists are confident they can prove it is in fact the Endeavour.