Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced that the Franklin Expedition ship discovered by Canada in early September has been identified as the HMS Erebus.
The HMS Erebus is one of the two British Royal Navy ships that went missing during Sir John Franklin’s 1845 expedition to the Arctic in search of a Northwest Passage to Asia. The disappearance of the expedition has long been considered one of Canada’s greatest historical mysteries and two of the most important undiscovered shipwrecks in the world.
The wreck was discovered with parts of the deck and main mast still intact about 11 meters (36 feet) below the surface in Queen Maud Gulf, off the Nunavut mainland, about 3,000 kilometers (1,800 miles) north of Toronto.
The discovery of the ship was announced September 9th after being confirmed by use of side-scan sonar and a remotely operated vehicle, but researchers were unsure if the wreck was that of the HMS Erebus or the HMS Terror.
Both the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror departed on the Franklin Expedition from Greenhithe, England on May 19, 1845 with 129 officers and men. The expedition was last seen entering Baffin Bay in August 1845. Sir John Franklin, who was in command of the Franklin Expedition, sailed on HMS Erebus.
The wreck was found during the Canadian Government’s 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition, which included 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.
Since 2008, there have been six major Parks Canada-led searches for the lost ships.
“I am pleased to announce today that the Franklin Expedition ship located by the Victoria Strait Expedition in September has been identified as HMS Erebus. The locating and identifying of this ship goes a long way to solving one of Canada’s greatest historical mysteries,” said Prime Minister Stephen Harper
“I would like to congratulate and pay tribute to all those involved in locating and identifying HMS Erebus. I had the privilege of witnessing the remarkable dedication and skills of the search team first-hand during this year’s Northern Tour and it has left a lasting impression. I wish them well in their search for HMS Terror,” Harper added.
Here is the video from Prime Minister Harper announcing the identification of the ship: