Canada PM says Arctic shipwreck is HMS Erebusa

2014-10-02 16:14
Stephen Harper (File: AFP)

Stephen Harper (File: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Ottawa - The remains of one of two British exploration ships lost in the Arctic in 1846 was identified on Wednesday by Canada's prime minister as the ill-fated HMS Erebus.

"I am delighted to confirm that we have identified which ship from the Franklin expedition has been found. It is in fact the HMS Erebus," Prime Minister Stephen Harper told parliament.

The search for HMS Erebus and HMS Terror had involved six major expeditions since 2008 to scour the seabed in the remote and frigid region.

Finally last month, a remotely operated underwater vehicle confirmed the discovery.

In their era the Erebus and the Terror were jewels of the Royal Navy.

Under the command of Sir John Franklin and Captain Francis Crozier, the two vessels, with a combined crew of 134, left the shores of Britain on 19 May 1845, to discover the Northwest Passage that links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

The last Europeans to have contact with the ships were crew members of two whaling boats that passed them in Baffin Bay in August 1845.

Sombre message

But as the explorers pushed into the Arctic archipelago, they soon ran into problems. And no-one, aside from perhaps the occasional Inuit hunter, ever saw them alive again.

The fate of the Franklin Expedition didn't become clearer until 1859, when a vessel chartered by Franklin's widow Lady Jane came across a sombre message on King William Island.

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

The message revealed that Franklin and 23 crew members died on 11 June 1847, in unspecified circumstances.

On 22 April 1848, 105 survivors left the ships in an attempt to reach solid ground on foot, but none survived.

In the 1980s, Canadian researchers said the remains of expedition members found on Beechey Island indicated they had died of cold, hunger and lead poisoning from canned food.

Bones discovered also showed signs of cannibalism.

The two vessels were ultimately engulfed by ice. The wreck was found in Victoria Strait off King William Island, not far from the Inuit village of Cambridge Bay.

Read more on:    canada

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.