Franklin expedition ship found in Arctic ID’d as HMS Erebus

The wrecked Franklin expedition ship found last month in the Arctic has been identified as HMS Erebus.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper confirmed the news Wednesday in the House of Commons.

“I am delighted to confirm that we have identified which ship from the Franklin expedition has been found. It is in fact the HMS Erebus,” Harper said in response to a question from Conservative Yukon MP Ryan Leef.

Harper noted the discovery has been of “interest to Canadians across the country and people around the world.”

Two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, were part of Sir John Franklin’s doomed expedition in 1845 to find the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic Ocean to Asia.

The ships disappeared after they became locked in ice in 1846 and were missing for more than a century and a half until last month’s discovery by a group of public-private searchers led by Parks Canada. It was not known until now which of the two ships had been found.

Franklin commanded the expedition from the Erebus and is believed to have been on the ship when he died. The wreck of HMS Terror has not yet been found.

Underwater archeologists confirm identity

Parks Canada underwater archeologists have been conducting dives at the site of the wreck since the discovery was made.

In a release, the Prime Minister’s Office said the confirmation of the ship’s identity was made Sept. 30 by those Parks Canada scientists, following a “meticulous review of data and artifacts” from the seabed and using high-resolution photo and video along with sonar measurements.

Ryan Harris, a senior underwater archeologist with Parks Canada and the lead on the project, was the first to venture down to the wreck along with his colleague Jonathan Moore.

“Without a doubt it is the most extraordinary shipwreck I’ve ever had the privilege of diving on,” Harris told CBC News on Parliament Hill Wednesday.

Harris said he was able to drop down between the exposed beams of the wreck and “peer around” some of the interior, including the crew’s mess. The pair could see below decks through old skylights and other openings but did not penetrate the interior of the ship.

“Most of our investigations have been external to this point in time,” he said.

Parks Canada two-man teams conducted seven dives in all for about 12 hours of investigation so far, Harris said.

Where is Franklin?

One question on many observers’ minds is whether Franklin’s body might be found on the wreck. It is not known whether Franklin perished on board or was given some kind of burial at sea before his men abandoned ship.

“We do know that he passed away in June of 1847, but the terse note left by the crew after they deserted the ships in Victoria Strait didn’t say what happened and why he died, but I suppose anything is possible,” Harris said.

“There are all kinds of suggestions that he may have been buried on shore, perhaps buried at sea, or perhaps he is still on the ship somewhere. Hopefully archeological investigations will be able to identify the answer to that question in the years to come.”

The last members of the Franklin expedition are believed to have faced starvation, disease and possibly cannibalism before their deaths in the Arctic.

The government’s partners in the search for Franklin’s ships this summer included Parks Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Royal Canadian Navy, Defence Research and Development Canada, Environment Canada and the Canadian Space Agency, as well as the governments of Nunavut and Great Britain.

From CBC.ca

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At long last… The wreck of a long-lost ship from the Franklin Expedition has been found in the Canadian Arctic

If you know me or follow this site, you know my obsession with the Franklin Expedition.  The disappearance of the two ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror nearly 170 years ago has been one of history’s lingering mysteries.  Two days ago, scientists  scouring the Arctic announced they had finally discovered the submerged remains of one of the ships.


What happened to his expedition has been a mystery for more than 170 years. The expedition’s disappearance became one of the great mysteries of the age of Victorian exploration.

A team of Canadian divers and archaeologists began searching for Franklin’s ships back in 2008. Now they’ve finally had a breakthrough.

Sonar images from the waters of the Victoria Strait, near Nunavut, reveal the wreckage of a ship resting on the ocean floor. Turns out, it is one of Franklin’s missing ships.

“I am delighted to announce that this year’s Victoria Strait expedition has solved one of Canada’s greatest mysteries, with the discovery of one of the two ships belonging to the Franklin Expedition,” said Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a statement.

John Geiger, the president of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, was a member of the search team that finally found the boat.

“You can actually see things like deck planking, you can see the side of the hull and even debris like signal cannons on the deck,” said Geiger.

The loss of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror prompted one of the largest searches in history, running from 1848 to 1859. Experts believe the ships were lost when they became locked in the ice and that the crews abandoned them in an effort to reach safety.

“It’s a very important wreck. It’s arguably one of the most exciting underwater finds — just because so little was known about what happened to the Franklin Expedition. It’s just one of those great, enduring historical mysteries,” Geiger said.


 

There are a lot of fantastic books surrounding the disappearance of the HMS Erebus and Terror.  Two I highly recommend are Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition and the fictitious, but frightening, The Terror by Dan Simmons.

2014 Search for Lost Franklin Expedition Vessels Targets New Location

The mystery surrounding the disappearance of the 1845 British Arctic Expedition commanded by Sir John Franklin is the most enduring in polar exploration history. This summer, the Government of Canada’s search for the lost Franklin ships, the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, will be enhanced by the inclusion of Canadian leaders in exploration, assembled with the help of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS).

This unique partnership, which includes The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, One Ocean Expeditions, Shell Canada and the Arctic Research Foundation, will add resources, technologies and expertise to the hunt and focus on the Victoria Strait, which up to this point has largely not been targeted by search teams. The focus on the Victoria Strait is significant, as the area includes the last reported location of the missing vessels and crews.

The W. Garfield Weston Foundation has been a catalyst for the innovative partnership. With the support of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, the Society has partnered with One Ocean Expeditions to provide an Arctic-rated vessel (One Ocean Voyager) that will enhance the many projects underway by all partners. It will enable experts, researchers, and others to be in the search area for a 10-day period during the field season. It will also enable the RCGS to analyze and communicate the important links between the original Franklin expedition, the modern search efforts led by Parks Canada, and a host of issues currently facing the Canadian Arctic.

“The W. Garfield Weston Foundation is delighted to be a part of the hunt for the Erebus and Terror. The Franklin Expedition discovery will raise awareness and increase understanding of the North and Canada’s rich history,” says Geordie Dalglish, Director of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation. “We are proud to support scientists as they uncover such an important piece of Canada’s history.”

With the addition of the One Ocean Voyager, the search capabilities of the expedition team will be significantly enhanced. “One Ocean Expeditions will fly the Canadian and RCGS flags with great enthusiasm, whilst exploring the waterways of Canada’s high Arctic as we’ve done for almost a quarter century,” explained Andrew Prossin, Managing Director of One Oceans Expeditions. “This will be a very proud Canadian effort at exploration, discovery, and scientific survey. It would be a very special Canadian moment indeed, to rewrite one of polar history¹s most storied chapters. This would showcase Canadian know-how and innovation to the world.”

The search for Franklin’s lost ships has opened a unique window into the history and heritage that has defined the Canadian experience, and the research provides a strong learning opportunity for Canadians across the country. With the vital support of its partners, The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, One Ocean Expeditions, Shell Canada and the Arctic Research Foundation, the RCGS will be developing and disseminating an educational program to Canadian schools, so that educators and students can develop a stronger knowledge base and engagement with the Arctic, linking this great historical mystery to important contemporary themes such as Northern science and Arctic sovereignty.

“Exploration has been important to the success of our business for over 100 years,” said Lorraine Mitchelmore, President and Country Chair of Shell Canada and Executive Vice President Heavy Oil. “We are proud to lend our support to the recovery of these vessels and look forward to sharing our experience along with our country’s rich history of exploration with Canadian students.”

In its 2013 Speech from the Throne, the Government of Canada announced an expanded partnership would join the Parks Canada-led initiative to locate the Franklin vessels. Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, announced the 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition on June 20. The Royal Canadian Geographical Society and its partners are key to the plans for this summer. “As Canada’s pre-eminent leader in exploration and geographical education, we are proud and honoured to join with Parks Canada, other federal and Nunavut government partners, and our private sector and non-profit colleagues and take up the call,” stated The Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s CEO, John Geiger.

The fate of the Erebus and Terror and their crews has become one of the most enduring mysteries in maritime history, and the search for Franklin’s lost ships has over time cemented Canada’s understanding and connection with the North. Moreover, much of Canada’s claim to sovereignty over its Arctic islands can be traced to the significant geographical advances made because of the Franklin search era. This year’s search will continue to strengthen Canadian awareness and understanding of its northern heritage and sovereignty over the land and its resources.

“The RCGS’ unique ability to directly reach classrooms from across Canada will ensure that information about the North will be easily accessible to thousands of Canadian students,” said Jim Balsillie, founder of the Arctic Research Foundation. “The Arctic Research Foundation is pleased to participate in a partnership that will connect young Canadians with information about their country’s Northern communities and heritage.”

For up-to-date information about the Franklin search expedition and much more, visit the Franklin 2014 search website at canadiangeographic.ca/franklin-expedition.

Discovery Day!

Discover – verb/disˈkəvər/: 1. Find (something or someone) unexpectedly or in the course of a search. 2. Become aware of (a fact or situation)

Monday, October 10, 2011 is Discovery Day!  Well, actually it is Columbus Day, but hear me out.

Each Columbus Day, I write a short blog commemorating Discovery Day.  Discovery Day is a retooling of Columbus Day holiday that celebrates, not just the discovery of one man, but of discovery in general.  It is my hope that someday this “holiday of spirit” will find the popular and financial support it needs to become a widely recognized event.

I already know some of you may be ready to argue that fact that Columbus’ voyage changed world and “why the hell would we want to stop recognizing that?”  Look, we’ve all read Charles Mann’s 1491 and 1493.  I understand Columbus changed the world in several different ways, and a very large portion of those changes were not for the better.  However, underneath all the death and destruction is one very important principal element: discovery.

My point is, why celebrate one man?  What Cristóbal Colón (Columbus) did pales in comparison to the millions of other exciting discoveries made throughout human history.  Discovery Day detaches itself from the accomplishments of one individual and opens the door to celebrating an endless assortment of firsts.  Consider the first bands of settlers to migrate into America roughly 20,000 years ago.  If anyone should get credit for discovering the New World, certainly it should go to them.  Or Leif Erikson who is currently regarded as the first European to arrive in the America’s (what now, Columbus?).  Sure he has his own holiday, but how many American’s actually know when it is? I’ll save you the trouble of looking, it’s October 9th. What of Jacques Cartier and his explorations of the St. Lawrence River or Abel Janszoon Tasman’s exploration of Australia in 1642?

Take a step away from earthbound discoveries and consider the work of Galileo. Consider all of the discoveries in astronomy, the hundreds of thousands of galaxies discovered by the Hubble Space telescope in the past 21 years.  Hell, there aren’t enough days in the year to commemorate what has been discovered since NASA was established in 1958. Think of the countless findings in chemistry, earth science, mathematics, genetics, medicine, physics, and biology. Think of archaeology! Think of evolution! Think of all of these wonderful fields of study, of the countless individuals whose hard work and dedication have made our current way of life possible, and understand the need to commemorate it all.

On October 10th, I ask you to discover.  Read a book about something that has always puzzled you, raise your hand and ask a question in class, observe the spider in your window rather than squashing it, take a new route home from work; the possibilities of discovery are endless!  In lieu of your discovery, share one exciting discovery with the world; be it a fact or a photo, a morsel of knowledge.  You be the judge!  Just get out there and discover!

Feel free to visit the Facebook page and post your discoveries for others to share.

Happy Discovery Day!

“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” – Galileo Galilei