Sutherland Shire historian Edward Duyker doubts the mystery over the final resting place of Captain Cook's HMB Endeavour has been solved.
Dr Duyker, of Sylvania has spent a significant part of his life researching the Endeavour's voyage to Botany Bay and final resting place.
"I would love it to be the Endeavour, but I think conclusive evidence is still needed," he said.
Chief executive of the Australian National Maritime Museum, Kevin Sumption, announced on Thursday last week a wreck in Newport Harbour, off Rhode island, had been positively identified as the Endeavour.
"I am satisfied that this is the final resting place of one of the most important and contentious vessels in Australia's maritime history," Mr Sumption said.
"Since 1999, we have been investigating several 18th century shipwrecks in a two square mile area where we believed that Endeavour sank, however, the last pieces of the puzzle had to be confirmed before I felt able to make this call.
"Based on archival and archaeological evidence, I'm convinced it's the Endeavour."
Mr Sumption said only about 15 per cent of the vessel remained and the focus would be on how it could be protected and preserved.
However, the American partners in the marine archaeological project which began 23 years ago, were quick to reject the claim of positive identification.
Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project executive director Kathy Abbass said, "What we see on the shipwreck site under study is consistent of what might be the Endeavour, but there has been no indisputable data to prove the site is that iconic vessel, and there are many unanswered questions that could overturn such an identification".
Dr Abbass said the project would not be swayed by Australian emotions or politics.
Dr Duyker said, "When I heard Kevin's announcement I thought they must have some conclusive evidence, but I was nevertheless sceptical".
"When I read Dr Abbass's statement, I had to agree with her," he said.
Coincidentally, Dr Duyker has written about the search for the Endeavour in the February 2022 issue of the Sutherland Shire Historical Society Bulletin.
In 1778, thirteen vessels were scuttled on orders from British commander General Pigot to hinder any French attempt to enter Newport's inner harbour.
They included the civilian transport Lord Sandwich II - formerly the Endeavour - which was sold off by the Royal Navy in March 1775.
The British eventually abandoned Newport, and the French returned in July 1780 with the Chevalier de Ternay's fleet and the Comte de Rochambeau's expeditionary corps to aid the Americans.
"Since 1999, the Australian National Maritime Museum has participated in this marine archaeological project because of the possibility of finding the remains of the former Endeavour," Dr Duyker writes.
"Yet, despite protracted surveys, timber analysis and decades of other research, no definitive identification has been made.
"I would be thrilled if this historic vessel could be found, but I can't help asking, ''Is she still there'?"
Dr Duyker said he had researched several important documents relating to the scuttling operation and does not know whether archaeologists working in Newport have consulted them.
He has passed on the information to Dr Abbass.
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