THE ship that took Captain Robert Falcon Scott on his ill-fated mission to the Antarctic 100 years ago has been found.

The SS Terra Nova, built in Dundee in 1884, was discovered off the coast of Greenland by research company Schmidt Ocean Institute when it was testing new equipment.

The discovery has amazed experts, as the ship has lain on the sea bed for 70 years.

Captain Scott and his team sailed the Terra Nova from Cardiff in 1910 in their quest to be the first people to reach the south pole. They arrived in the Antarctic in November 1911 and started the 167-mile trek that would eventually claim the lives of the five men.

After the ill-fated expedition, the Terra Nova was bought by her previous owners, the Bowring Brothers, and in 1913 she returned to the Antarctic to work in the Newfoundland seal fishery.

During the First World War she was used for coastal trading. In 1942 the ship was chartered by Newfoundland Base Contractors to carry supplies to Greenland, but on September 13, 1943, she was damaged by ice.

The US Coastguard rescued all 24 crew then fired into her side, sinking the ship off the south-west tip of Greenland.

There she remained until the Schmidt Ocean Institute team, with experts from the University of New Hampshire, Ifremer, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution began an exploration exercise in the north Atlantic.

While testing echosound equipment last month, they discovered the wreck of the Terra Nova, whose exact location was previously unknown.

Survey expert Jonathan Beaudoin noticed a boat-shaped feature on the sea bed and, along with colleague Leighton Rolley, decided to carry out further investigation.

Using sophisticated technology, the object was measured and its 62-yard length matched the dimensions of the Terra Nova – a wooden-hulled barque, with one funnel and three masts

After analysing data from acoustic tests, the team sent down a camera for a closer look and pictures showed the vessel lying on the sea bed.

The camera footage also identified the funnel, lying next to the wreck. The team compared the funnel image with old photographs and confirmed the wreck as the SS Terra Nova.

The survey team was elated at finding one of the most famous polar exploration vessels and the exercise also served the purpose of verifying the performance and operational condition of the equipment.

Brian Kelly, education officer at Discovery Point in Dundee – a museum dedicated to Dundee's heritage – said: "A man came into the centre and said he had some information I might be interested in. He turned out to be Leighton Rolley, a technician on the Schmidt team who found the Terra Nova.

"He was visiting Europe and had been to Oslo to see the Fram, the vessel used by Roald Amundsen – the man who beat Scott to the South Pole.

"He was interested in the history of the event so decided to come to Dundee to see the Discovery Centre. He was fascinated to learn the story of the Terra Nova and he had quite a story to share with us.

"It is remarkable the Terra Nova has been found now – 100 years on from the race to the pole, the death of Scott and four of his crew, and in the year of various events to commemorate that occasion. She was severely damaged when she was sunk by the US Coastguard.

"I'm not an expert, but I would think the depth she is at, the condition she is in and the cost of any salvage operation would make her recovery unlikely."