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Ottawa continues search in Nunavut waters for lost Franklin ships

“Being from Nunavut, I am especially excited about this project:” Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

Prime Minister Stephen Harper chats with Captain Carrey Collinge and the crew of the Martin Bergmann research vessel prior to boarding the ship Aug. 22, 2012 in Cambridge Bay. (FILE PHOTO)


Prime Minister Stephen Harper chats with Captain Carrey Collinge and the crew of the Martin Bergmann research vessel prior to boarding the ship Aug. 22, 2012 in Cambridge Bay. (FILE PHOTO)

Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq, Canada’s environment minister and minister responsible for Parks Canada, announced Aug. 9 that Parks Canada underwater archaeologists will return to Nunavut to continue “an expedition of international significance,” the continuing search for the lost vessels HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, from the ill-fated Sir John Franklin voyage.

“Our government is pleased to pull together for a fifth season both existing and new Canadian partners and researchers to continue the search for HMS Erebus and HMS Terror,” Aglukkaq said in a news release.

“Being from Nunavut, I am especially excited about this project, as it will collectively increase our understanding of early Arctic exploration and its impact on Canada’s development as a nation, while showcasing the beauty and unique culture of the Arctic.”

The Erebus and Terror, under the command of Royal Navy commander Franklin, became stuck in the ice in September 1846 somewhere in the vicinity of today’s community of Gjoa Haven in western Nunavut.

Franklin died on June 11, 1847, with the ships still immobilized.

Then, in April 1848, the rest of his crew abandoned the ships, intending to march over land and frozen water to mainland Canada, but they perished en route.

While many relics from the voyage have been found over the years, the ships have yet to be located.

The search capacity this year will be the most comprehensive yet, the Aug. 9 news release said, beginning about Aug. 10 and continuing for almost six weeks — the longest amount of continuous time on the water to date.

In 2013, the Royal Canadian Navy and Defence Research and Development Canada, the Arctic Research Foundation, the Government of Nunavut, Canadian Hydrographic Service, Canadian Coast Guard, the Canadian Ice Service, and Canadian Space Agency will participate in the search.

Last year, during his annual August visit to Nunavut, Prime Minister Stephen announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the GN that established a framework for the ongoing cooperation and coordination of the research, search and preservation activities regarding the Erebus and the Terror.

The GN is the permitting authority for all archaeology research conducted in Nunavut and will lead the land-based archaeological search.

The Parks Canada-led survey team will conduct the underwater search from aboard the Arctic Research Foundation’s research vessel Martin Bergmann, based out of Cambridge Bay, for the full six weeks or so, and will be further supported during that time by the CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier for an additional week.

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