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Further exploration of Sir Fraklin wrecks halted

Unfortunately, this year’s exploration of the extraordinary wrecks HMS Terror and HMS Erebus will not take place. Archaeologists have been held back by the prevailing global pandemic and associated restrictions. The expedition, which was due to set off in August 2020, has been cancelled as a result and the next activities on the wrecks will
Published: August 31, 2020 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 20:56
Further exploration of Sir Fraklin wrecks halted

Unfortunately, this year’s exploration of the extraordinary wrecks HMS Terror and HMS Erebus will not take place. Archaeologists have been held back by the prevailing global pandemic and associated restrictions. The expedition, which was due to set off in August 2020, has been cancelled as a result and the next activities on the wrecks will not be possible until next year.

This is only the second time in the last 12 years that Marc-Andre Bernier and his team of underwater archaeologists from Parks Canada will not be heading north to carry out research on the wrecks from Sir John Franklin’s lost expedition.

Scientists have made no secret of their disappointment, especially after an extremely fruitful 2019 exploration season, which they described as the most successful ever. It was a year ago that the cabins and larders on the wreck of HMS Erebus were reached, and 355 remarkable artefacts were brought to the surface as a result of the explorations.

Thanks to the latest technological advances and using remotely operated robots armed with cameras, it was possible to look at and partially explore the interior of the wreck of the second ship, HMS Terror. It was first such visit conducted by Canadian archaeologists since HMS Terror shipwreck found in the Arctic.

Exploring the wreck of HMS Erebus divers24.pl
Diver on the wreck of HMS Erebus photo Parks Canada

Archaeologists from government agency Parks Canada had planned to return to exploring, surveying and documenting wrecks in August, when conditions in the Arctic are usually most conducive to such activities. Unfortunately, a worldwide pandemic thwarted their plans and now the closest possible date to resume work is August 2021.

The ships HMS Terror and HMS Erebus are the lost ships of Sir John Franklin’s legendary expedition of 1845. Aboard them, 130 men set out to cross the last remaining part of the Northwest Passage, a sea route from Europe to eastern Asia, following the waterways within the Arctic Archipelago.

However, the mission undertaken by Sir Franklin was unsuccessful, and all trace of the ship and its crew was lost. This tragedy is considered the greatest in the history of exploratory expeditions undertaken by the Royal Navy.

The location of the wrecks remained unknown until Parks Canada archaeologists, working with a group of Inuit guides, located the wreck of HMS Erebus in 2014. Continuing the search on the beaten track, two years later the wreck of HMS Terror was found some 100 kilometres further north.

Although this year’s expedition has been cancelled, this does not mean that the archaeologists are going to take a break. They will focus their efforts on conservation work and research hundreds of artefacts excavated in the past year. Some of them have already been presented to the general public and we must admit that they make a spectacular impression.

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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