One of two ships from British explorer Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated 1845 expedition to find the fabled Northwest Passage has been discovered off King William Island in northern Canada. The ship appears to be in excellent condition.
One of two British explorer ships that vanished in the Arctic more than 160 years ago has been found, Canada's prime minister says.
Stephen Harper said it was unclear which ship had been found, but photo evidence confirmed it was one of them.
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 lost in 1846.
Success at last
It’s the sixth time since 2008 that Parks Canada has led a search of the Arctic seabed for the Franklin ships. This year the search area was the Victoria Strait, between Victoria Island and King William Island in the Nunavut territory.
All men perished
Franklin's lost expedition was a British voyage of Arctic exploration led by Captain Sir John Franklin that departed England in 1845. A Royal Navy officer and experienced explorer, Franklin had served on three previous Arctic expeditions, the latter two as commanding officer. His fourth and last, undertaken when he was 59, was meant to traverse the last unnavigated section of the Northwest Passage. After a few early fatalities, the two ships became icebound in Victoria Strait near King William Island in the Canadian Arctic. The entire expedition complement, including Franklin and 128 men, was lost.
The last Europeans to have contact with HMS Erebus and HMS Terror were the crews of two whaling vessels, the Enterprise and the Prince of Wales. Conversations during this chance meeting in August 1845, between the Expedition leaders and the Captains of the whaling ships, indicated that Franklin was waiting for an opportunity to cross Baffin Bay to Lancaster Sound. However, after entering the eastern Arctic Archipelago later that season and enjoying initial success, the promising expedition soon began to falter. Indeed, except for some encounters with the Inuit, the crews of the vessels were never seen again.