Has Captain Cook's Endeavour finally been found 230 years after it disappeared?

A replica of HMS Endeavour in Sydney.

A replica of HMS Endeavour in Sydney.

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Researchers believe they have found the resting place of the ship in which British explorer Captain James Cook sailed to Australia in 1768.

Researchers in the US believe they may be a step closer to locating the ship in which British explorer Captain James Cook sailed to Australia in 1768.

The Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (Rimap) believe they have narrowed down the search for HMS Endeavour to a cluster of five shipwrecks in Newport Harbour, where the ship was scuttled in 1778.

Researchers now plan to investigate the ships and their artifacts further in a bid to find Captain Cook's vessel.

They are also appealing for funds to build facilities for handling and storing items retrieved.

In a statement, the team said: "All of the 13 ships lost in Newport during the Revolution are important to American history, but it will be a national celebration in Australia when RIMAP identifies the Lord Sandwich ex Endeavour."

HMS Endeavour

Capt Cook, from Middlesbrough, set sail on Endeavour in 1768 on a scientific voyage to map the Pacific Ocean.

The British-built coal ship he arrived off the South East coast of what is now Australia in 1770, anchoring at Botany Bay.

After sailing back to Britain, the Endeavour was renamed Lord Sandwich and became a troop carrier ship used in the American War of Independence.

Its days were ended when it was scuttled by the British Navy in a blockade of the Narragansett Bay.

The wreckage has never been found, but the Rimap researchers have been investigating a total of 13 sunken ships using a mix of hi-tech equipment and historical documents.

They say data suggests there is "an 80 to 100% chance" the Lord Sandwich wreckage is still in Newport Harbor.

Rimap said closing in on identifying "one of the most important shipwrecks in world history" would be "an intriguing birthday gift for all of Rhode Island".