AN Oxford’s explorer’s outlandish mission to find Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship has ended in disappointment and the loss of a submarine.

Maritime archaeologist Mensun Bound and his team were scouring The Weddell Sea for Shackleton’s ship The Endurance, which sank in 1915.

But despite coming tantalisingly close, the group are now on their way home after reaching the last known site of the wreck earlier this week.

Read again: The Endurance: Oxford explorer Mensun Bound dreaming of discovery

They abandoned their search after losing AUV7, a state-of-the-art specialist submersible.

The sub, which had conducted what is believed to be the longest and deepest dedicated under-ice survey ever, was nearing the end of its 30 hour search when contact was lost. It is possible it captured images of Endurance before contact was lost, the team said.

Mr Bound said that the team were disappointed but ‘pleased to have brought Shackleton’s story to the next generation, who will be entrusted with the essential safeguarding of the poles’.

Extreme weather hampered the search and there were concerns that their icebreaker could become trapped in ice.

However, it was not all disappointment for the team – who had anticipated a difficult task to find the wreck – with ‘highly successful multi-disciplinary scientific research' being conducted before the search got underway.

Read again: Mensun and team make it to last known site

Mr Bound, the director of exploration on the expedition, said: “As a team we are clearly disappointed not to have been successful in our mission to find Endurance.

"Like Shackleton before us, who described the graveyard of Endurance as ‘the worst portion of the worst sea in the world’, our well laid plans were overcome by the rapidly moving ice, and what Shackleton called ‘the evil conditions of The Weddell Sea’."

He continued: “We are pleased to have brought the story of Shackleton and Endurance to new audiences, and the next generation, who will be entrusted with the essential safeguarding of our polar regions, and our planet more broadly.

"We hope our adventure will have engaged young people about the pioneering spirit, courage and fortitude of those who sailed with Endurance to Antarctica."

Mr Bound paid tribute to the navigational skills of Endurance Captain Frank Worsley whose detailed records were 'invaluable' and thanked The Flotilla Foundation for for funding the expedition, his team and Ocean Infinity 'for their technology and technicians.'