For a fifth year, underwater archaeologists from Parks Canada are leading a team in the Canadian Arctic searching for the ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror from the 1845 Sir John Franklin expedition. The ships were lost when they were trapped in the ice exploring for the Northwest Passage. The two ships are designated as a Canadian national historic site, even if they haven't been found yet.
For six weeks, beginning in August, Parks Canada will be joined in the underwater search by representatives of the Royal Canadian Navy, Defence Research & Development Canada, the Arctic Research Foundation, the Government of Nunavut, the Canadian Hydrographic Service, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Canadian Ice Service, and the Canadian Space Agency. The search will be run from the Arctic Research Foundation's research vessel Martin Bergmann, and also supported by the Coast Guard ship Sir Wilfrid Laurier. This year Parks Canada has a new autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) and remotely operated vehicle (ROV).
Over the years, the team has already covered about 800 sq. km in their search, so they're narrowing in on their target. It's not a totally hopeless cause. In 2010, the Parks Canada team found the wreck of the HMS Investigator, one of the Royal Navy ships sent out in the 1850s looking for the Franklin expedition. At the same time as they search for the long-lost ships, the researchers are systematically surveying Canada's largely uncharted high Arctic waters, and builidng on the scientific and archaeological understanding of them.
Image: Sledge Party Leaving HMS Investigator in Mercy Bay in 1854
Sketch by Samuel Creswell / Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1970-188-1945 / W.H. Coverdale Collection of Canadiana
More About Searching for the Franklin Expedition
Still Searching for Franklin's Ships
Parks Canada Finds Historic Arctic Shipwreck
Canadian Exploration and Explorers
2007 Documentary About the Franklin Expedition Mystery - CBC
Searching for Franklin (2012) - CBC