Canada locates British explorer ship lost in 1846

9th September 2014, Comments 0 comments

Canada has located the remains of one of two British explorer ships lost in the Arctic in 1846, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Tuesday, hailing the find as historic.

The search for the ill-fated HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, headed by British explorer Sir John Franklin, involved six major expeditions since 2008 that scoured the seabed in the far-flung and frigid region.

Finally, on Sunday, a remotely operated underwater vehicle confirmed the find, Harper said in a statement.

While enough information exists to confirm its authenticity, it remains unclear which of the two doomed ships was actually discovered.

"This is truly a historic moment for Canada," Harper said. "Franklin's ships are an important part of Canadian history given that his expeditions, which took place nearly 200 years ago, laid the foundations of Canada's Arctic sovereignty."

Harper -- saying one of Canada's "greatest mysteries" has been solved -- was optimistic that the second ship will also be found.

"Finding the first vessel will no doubt provide the momentum -- or wind in our sails -- necessary to locate its sister ship and find out even more about what happened to the Franklin Expedition's crew."

At the time, the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror were the jewels of the British Navy.

Under the command of Franklin and Captain Francis Crozier, the two vessels, with a combined crew of 134, left the shores of England on May 19, 1845, to discover the Northwest Passage.

But the sailors became trapped in ice for a year and half, and eventually ran out of supplies.

A message discovered in 1859 revealed that Franklin and 23 crew members died on June 11, 1847, in uncertain circumstances.

On April 22, 1848, 105 survivors left the ships in an attempt to reach solid ground on foot, but none of them survived. The two vessels were ultimately engulfed by ice.

© 2014 AFP

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