Search for the lost Franklin ships

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Photo: The search has resumed for HMS Erebus and HMS Terror

The Canadian government has announced that underwater archaeologists will once again resume the search for the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror – the ill fated vessels of Franklin’s Arctic expedition.

This will be the fifth season that Parks Canada has returned to the area and this year’s search, which begins this month, looks set to be the most comprehensive yet.

It will last for six weeks and will involve partners from the Royal Canadian Navy, (RCN), Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) and the Arctic Research Foundation.

The team will use traditional side scan to try to find the vessels but also a military grade side scan sonar provided by DRDC and a new autonomous underwater vessel (AUV) and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) recently acquired by Parks Canada.

Canada’s Environment Minister, The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, said: “Having already covered 800sq km, the team is narrowing their search on the world’s most elusive shipwrecks. This year’s search will significantly build upon the important scientific and archaeological understanding in this fascinating part of Canada’s history.”

At the same time as the underwater survey, a terrestrial archaeology team will focus on surveying the Erebus Bay region.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed back in 1997 between Great Britain (as owner of the vessels) and Canada which assigns control over investigation, excavation or recovery of both wrecks or their contents to Canada.

Both ships were lost to the ice during the 1845 Franklin survey expedition to the Arctic. The entire complement of both crews (129 men) perished, most while trying to make their way out of the Arctic to safety.