Many people, including non-divers, are fascinated by the story of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, which remains one of naval exploration’s greatest mysteries. What sank John Franklin’s attempt to sail the Northwest Passage in 1845?
The Canadian government is delivering on the second year of a four-year commitment made in the Budget of 2021 to accelerate archaeological and conservation work at the Franklin Expedition sites.
In September 2014, an expedition led by Parks Canada discovered the wreck of the HMS Erebus in an area previously identified by Inuit. Two years later, the HMS Terror’s wreckage was discovered. These discoveries were made possible thanks to historical research, Inuit knowledge, and the efforts of many collaborators. Inuit and Parks Canada are now working together to manage this fascinating National Historic Site.
After a two-year hiatus due to pandemic precautions, Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Team (UAT) announced this week that it will return to the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site to conduct important archaeological work related to the exploration and conservation of these fabled ships.
Two exhibitions/dives will be held to continue the exploration and excavation of the two sites. One is scheduled for later this month, and another for late summer.
Hundreds of artifacts have been recovered from the wrecks of the two ships, ranging from shoes and ceramic dishes to a ship’s bell and a lieutenant’s epaulette.(an ornamental shoulder piece on an item of clothing) Artifacts from the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror previously discovered by Parks Canada or the Inuit people are now housed in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England.
Franklin’s Lost Expedition was a failed British Arctic exploration voyage led by Captain Sir John Franklin that departed England in 1845 aboard two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, with the mission of traversing the last unnavigated sections of the Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic and recording magnetic data to help determine whether a better understanding could aid navigation. The expedition ended in disaster when both ships and their crews, a total of 129 officers and men became icebound in Victoria Strait near King William Island in what is now Canada’s Nunavut territory. All perished.
The public is not yet permitted to visit the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site.