A replica of Shackleton’s legendary ship ‘Endurance’ has completed a hazardous journey from Ukraine.
The intricate model of Endurance was built on behalf of Shipwreck Treasure Museum in Charlestown, UK, by retired Ukrainian rocket engineer Vitaliy Vrubel.
His home city of Dnipro has been repeatedly battered by airstrikes since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022.
Vitaliy was commissioned by the museum to build the model after a social media appeal by his daughter early on in Russia’s invasion to help save her father’s other models during the conflict.
The ship became famous for sinking in the Wedell Sea during polar explorer Ernest Shackleton’s failed expedition to Antarctica.
The model will eventually form the centerpiece of an exhibition at the museum in March next year after being carefully transported to England by volunteer Andy Evangelou and Plymouth-based Ukrainian refugee Maksym Litvinov.
The pair successfully retrieved the model from the ‘hot zone’ city with the help of former South African soldier Lionel de Lange, whose charity Warriors of Wildlife has previously rescued zoo animals from fighting in Ukraine.
Speaking last year, Vitaliy said: “We live with the understanding we can die at any moment. Missile strikes are carried out regularly. Airraid sirens wail day and night.
“We don’t hide in a bomb shelter because there isn’t one. We just go to the hall where there are no windows.
“The desire to create accurate historical copies of ships requires careful study of the material, the historical features of the era and the specifics of the vessel.
“It takes a lot of time, but it is very interesting. The captain had to know everything about the ship, even down to the smallest detail.
“I feel that even if we’re not on the front line, we are still fighting. We’re still waging this war. It’s not possible to be hidden from it.”
The model took over a year to complete due to frequent power outages in the city.
It was collected from the frontline by Mr de Lange, who then delivered it to Andy and Maksym in Kyiv.
The pair then completed the 2,000-mile (3,800 km) journey back to Cornwall, where the model was welcomed by museum staff.
Speaking to the BBC, Mr de Lange said: “I was asked to go to the east of Ukraine to a very hot zone to pick up this box.
“We picked it up in a really really hot area – there was continuous shelling… so we hope a lot of people get a lot of pleasure out of it.”
Lynne Raubenheimer, from the Shipwreck Treasure Museum, told the BBC that the model will be safely stored until it is put on display.
She said: “The model is going to be stored away safely for a few months and we are going to be getting ready for March 2024 when we are going to open a brand new exhibition.
“It is going to be centered around a comparison between the endurance that Shackleton and his men had to be able to survive two years on the ice, and the endurance that our volunteers had to be able to retrieve it – as well as the endurance of the Ukrainian people.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker