Parks Canada identifies Franklin wreck as HMS Erebus

Franklin sailed on the recently-discovered vessel


A 19th century artist’s imagined representation of Sir John Franklin’s lost ships, the Erebus and the Terror. (HARPER COLLECTION)

A 19th century artist’s imagined representation of Sir John Franklin’s lost ships, the Erebus and the Terror. (HARPER COLLECTION)

The wrecked Franklin expedition ship discovered in early September by the 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition has been identified as the HMS Erebus, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Oct. 1.

The announcement of the ship’s identity follows the Sept. 9 announcement that remains of a ship were found in the eastern stretches of the Queen Maud Gulf off the western coast of the Adelaide Peninsula in Nunavut’s Kitikmeot region.

Sir John Franklin, who was in command of the Franklin expedition, sailed on the Erebus, named after the ancient Greek god of darkness and the place in the ancient Greek underworld where souls travelled after death.

Since 2008, there have been six Parks Canada-led searches for the Franklin ships, the Erebus and the HMS Terror, which have not been spotted since 1845.

“The locating and identifying of this ship goes a long way to solving one of Canada’s greatest historical mysteries,” Harper said in a news release, following a statement made in Parliament.

On May 19, 1845, Erebus and Terror of the Royal Navy left Greenhithe, England, on an Arctic expedition in search of a Northwest Passage.

Under the command of Franklin, with Capt. Francis Rawdon Crozier second in command, the expedition’s two ships set out with 129 officers and men.

The two expedition ships were last seen by Europeans as they entered Baffin Bay in August 1845.

Parks Canada underwater archeologists confirmed the ship found this past summer was the Erebus by what a news release called “meticulous review of data and artifacts.”

These were observed from the Arctic Ocean’s seabed and using high-resolution photography, high-definition video and multi-beam sonar measurements, the release said.

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 assisted in the search for the ships.

Private and non-profit partners included the Arctic Research Foundation, the Royal Canadian Geographical Society who additionally brought in the W. Garfield Weston Foundation, Shell Canada and One Ocean Expeditions as partners.

But Inuit testimony led searchers to location of Franklin ship. Inuit oral traditions had long talked about this general area as being where one of the ships was sunk and was wrecked.

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