HMS Endeavour, also known as HM Bark Endeavour, was a British Royal Navy research vessel that Lieutenant James Cook commanded on his first voyage of discovery, to Australia and New Zealand from 1769 to 1771.
She was launched in 1764 as the collier Earl of Pembroke, and the Navy purchased her in 1768 for a scientific mission to the Pacific Ocean and to explore the seas for the surmised Terra Australis Incognita or "unknown southern land". The Navy renamed and commissioned her as His Majesty's Bark the Endeavour.
She departed Plymouth in August 1768, rounded Cape Horn, and reached Tahiti in time to observe the 1769 transit of Venus across the Sun. She then set sail into the largely uncharted ocean to the south, stopping at the Pacific islands of Huahine, Borabora, and Raiatea to allow Cook to claim them for Great Britain. In September 1769, she anchored off New Zealand, the first European vessel to reach the islands since Abel Tasman's Heemskerck 127 years earlier.
In April 1770, Endeavour became the first ship to reach the east coast of Australia, when Cook went ashore at what is now known as Botany Bay. Endeavour then sailed north along the Australian coast. She narrowly avoided disaster after running aground on the Great Barrier Reef, and Cook had to throw her guns overboard to lighten her. He then beached her on the mainland for seven weeks to permit rudimentary repairs to her hull. On 10 October 1770, she limped into port in Batavia (now named Jakarta) in the Dutch East Indies for more substantial repairs, her crew sworn to secrecy about the lands they had discovered. She resumed her westward journey on 26 December, rounded the Cape of Good Hope on 13 March 1771, and reached the English port of Dover on 12 July, having been at sea for nearly three years.
Largely forgotten after her epic voyage, Endeavour spent the next three years shipping Navy stores to the Falkland Islands. Renamed and sold into private hands in 1775, she briefly returned to naval service as a troop transport during the American Revolutionary War and was scuttled in a blockade of Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island in 1778. Her wreck has not been precisely located, but relics, including six of her cannons and an anchor, are displayed at maritime museums worldwide. A replica of Endeavour was launched in 1994 and is berthed alongside the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney Harbour. The space shuttle Endeavour is named for the original ship.
Endeavour features on the New Zealand fifty cent piece in recognition of its significant place in the nation's history.
Endeavour was originally the merchant collier Earl of Pembroke, launched in June 1764 from the coal and whaling port of Whitby in North Yorkshire, and of a type known locally as the Whitby Cat. She was ship-rigged and sturdily built with a broad, flat bow, a square stern and a long box-like body with a deep hold.
A flat-bottomed design made her well-suited to sailing in shallow waters and allowed her to be beached for loading and unloading of cargo and for basic repairs without requiring a dry dock. Her hull, internal floors and futtocks were built from traditional white oak, her keel and stern post from elm and her masts from pine and fir. Plans of the ship also show a double keelson to lock the keel, floors and frames in place.
Some doubt exists about the height of her masts, as surviving diagrams of Endeavour depict the body of the vessel only, and not the mast plan. While her main and foremasts are accepted to be a standard 129 and 110 feet (39 and 34 m) respectively, an annotation on one surviving ship plan records the mizzen as "16 yards 29 inches" (15.4 m). If correct, this would produce an oddly truncated mast a full 9 feet (2.7 m) shorter than the standards of the day. Modern research suggests the annotation may be a transcription error and should read "19 yards 29 inches" (24.5 m), which would more closely conform with both the naval standards and the lengths of the other masts. The replica is built to this shorter measurement, as is the model in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. There is a differences between the height of the mizzen fore-and-aft spar in the contemporary painting by Luny (below) and its position on the replica in the photographs, compared to the height of the lowest spars on the fore and mainmasts.
On 16 February 1768, the Royal Society petitioned King George III to finance a scientific expedition to the Pacific to study and observe the 1769 transit of Venus across the sun. Royal approval was granted for the expedition, and the Admiralty elected to combine the scientific voyage with a confidential mission to search the south Pacific for signs of the postulated continent Terra Australis Incognita (or "unknown southern land").
The Royal Society suggested command be given to Scottish geographer Alexander Dalrymple, whose acceptance was conditional on a brevet commission as a captain in the Royal Navy. However, First Lord of the Admiralty Edward Hawke refused, going so far as to say he would rather cut off his right hand than give command of a Navy vessel to someone not educated as a seaman. In refusing Dalrymple's command, Hawke was influenced by previous insubordination aboard the sloop HMS Paramour in 1698, when naval officers had refused to take orders from civilian commander Dr. Edmond Halley. The impasse was broken when the Admiralty proposed James Cook, a naval officer with a background in mathematics and cartography. Acceptable to both parties, Cook was promoted to Lieutenant and named as commander of the expedition.
On 27 May 1768, Cook took command of the Earl of Pembroke, valued in March at £2,307. 5s. 6d. but ultimately purchased for £2,840. 10s. 11d. and assigned for use in the Society's expedition. She was refitted at Deptford on the River Thames for the sum of £2,294, almost the price of the ship itself. The hull was sheathed and caulked to protect against shipworm, and a third internal deck installed to provide cabins, a powder magazine and storerooms. The new cabins provided around 2 square metres (22 sq ft) of floorspace apiece and were allocated to Cook and the Royal Society representatives: naturalist Joseph Banks, Banks' assistants Daniel Solander and Herman Spöring, astronomer Charles Green, and artists Sydney Parkinson and Alexander Buchan. These cabins encircled the officer's mess. The Great Cabin at the rear of the deck was designed as a workroom for Cook and the Royal Society. On the rear lower deck, cabins facing on to the mate's mess were assigned to Lieutenants Zachary Hicks and John Gore, ship's surgeon William Monkhouse, the gunner Stephen Forwood, ship's master Robert Molyneux, and the captain's clerk Richard Orton. The adjoining open mess deck provided sleeping and living quarters for the marines and crew, and additional storage space.
A longboat, pinnace and yawl were provided as ship's boats, though the longboat was rotten and had to be rebuilt and painted with white lead before it could be brought aboard. These were accompanied by two privately owned skiffs, one belonging to the boatswain John Gathrey, and the other to Banks. The ship was also equipped with a set of 28 ft (8.5 m) sweeps to allow her to be rowed forward if becalmed or demasted. The refitted vessel was commissioned as His Majesty's Bark the Endeavour, to distinguish her from the 14-gun sloop HMS Endeavour.
On 21 July 1768, Endeavour sailed to Galleon's Reach to take on armaments to protect her against potentially hostile Pacific island natives. Ten 4-pounder cannons were brought aboard, six of which were mounted on the upper deck and the remainder stowed in the hold. Twelve swivel guns were also supplied, and fixed to posts along the quarterdeck, sides and bow. The ship departed for Plymouth on 30 July, for provisioning and to board her crew of 85, including 12 Royal Marines. Cook also ordered that twelve tons of pig iron be brought on board as sailing ballast.