- An expedition involving two Saab-made autonomous underwater vehicles has found the wreckage of Ernest Shackleton’s ship in Antarctica.
- by Sir Ernest Shackleton Endurance embarked on an Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1914, which ended when the ship sank in the icy Weddell Sea in 1915.
- But back to Saab: the Sabertooth, a product of the company’s military/industrial division, can stay underwater for six months straight without maintenance. That’s an unusual claim for a Saab.
Saab lovers, rejoice! Your favorite brand from Trollhättan is back in the news, and this time it has nothing to do with epic steering torque or Spyker. No, this time the Saab star isn’t a 900 SPG or Turbo X SportCombi but a Sabertooth, a 2860-pound EV with a 30.0 kWh battery and a top speed of 4.6 mph. The Sabertooth is an AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle) and two of them were used to find Ernest Shackleton’s ship, Endurance. Which was last seen in 1915 by Shackleton and his crew as it was crushed by ice and sank in the Weddell Sea in Antarctica. At that point, Shackleton, like many Saab owners, had to start walking.
The Endurance22 expedition, which discovered the wreck, had its work cut out for the same reasons Shackleton lost his boat: ice, and lots of ice. In describing where the Endurance went glub-glub-glub, Shackleton called it “the worst part of the worst sea in the world”. Even the Sabertooth, which is rated for a depth of 9842 feet (3000 meters), was at the limit of its design – the Endurance was found at 9869 feet. Luckily, the Expedition used the heavy-duty double-hull Sabertooth rather than the sportier 5.8mph single-hull model, which is only good for around 4,000 feet of water.
While the Sabertooth can carry tools and bring back samples from the brackish depths of Davey Jones’ locker, the Endurance22 expedition adopted a look-but-don’t-sample policy towards Shackleton’s sad sailboat, which turned out to be in a incredible condition – thanks to the absolute cold of the waters, the wood has remained unnibbled by marine nibblers for over 100 years. On the stern you can still see a star under the “Endurance” lettering, a remnant of the ship’s first owner, who christened her Polaris. Isn’t it supposed to be bad luck to rename a ship? Someone should have spoken to a certain E. Shackleton.
As for the Saberteeths, they are ready for their next job. The Sabertooth brochure – yes, we’re window shopping – points out that with its optional Underwater Charging Station / Snork Garage, the Sabertooth can stay underwater for six months straight without maintenance. A Saab that goes six months without maintenance? The mind gets confused. But we guess the military-slash-industrial side of Saab is a different beast from the old automotive arm.
It’s good to know that, 11 years after the last cars came out, there’s a part of Saab that has something in common with Ernest Shackleton: it survived.
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