Tag Archive for: HMS Erebus

Look inside the shipwreck of the HMS Terror

First Look Inside the Wreck of the HMS Terror

See inside the HMS Terror for the first time since it vanished with the Franklin Expedition over 170 years ago.

Aside from a few bodies found mummified in the Canadian permafrost and tales told by Inuit tribes of madness and cannibalism, nothing was ever found of the Franklin Expedition after it vanished in 1846. Over 30 expeditions failed to find any trace of the two ships and most of the 129 men that set out from England in 1845 to find a passage through the Arctic that connected the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific.

That is, until extensive surveys based on Inuit oral history lead searchers to the wreck of the HMS Erebus in 2014. Just two years the second ship, the HMS Terror, was discovered. Both ships were discovered in shallow water near King William Island, where two members of the crew had been found long dead in a lifeboat in 1859.

Mummified body from the Franklin Expedition
A member of the Franklin Expedition found buried on Beechey Island in 1984, mummified in the permafrost

Now, for the first time, we can get a glimpse inside the ship thanks to the Parks Canada researchers who have been studying the remarkably preserved wrecks.

The Erebus has had a few more years to be studied, and some artifacts have been brought up, but until this year weather conditions made it difficult to examine the Terror.

Thanks to calm seas, the underwater archaeology team was able to guide a small ROV into the ship and capture some amazing video of the interior.

“Overturned armchairs, thermometers on the wall, stacked plates, chamberpots, washbasins — often in their correct position,” team member Ryan Harris said. “We were able to see an incredible array of artifacts.”

Recommended Reading
Frozen in Time book about the Franklin Expedition
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The camera was piloted through an open hatch into the ship.

“You have the lights of the ROV penetrating the darkness,” Harris said. “Looking forward in the corridor, you see the list of the ship to starboard.

“And then off to the left, you see a succession of doors into various officers’ cabins. Every single sliding door agape. Just imagine piloting the vehicle into one cabin after the next and see the private quarters of each officer. You see the bed places, you see the shelves, shipboard articles on the shelves, scientific instruments in their cases and many, many drawers.”

Harris said it feels like violating the privacy of the crew that once occupied those spaces. “It’s exhilarating, but it’s quite a solemn space.”

Inside the HMS Terror shipwreck
Inside the wreck of the HMS Terror

The only door found closed in the ship was the one leading to cabin of captain Francis Crozier.

That cabin is likely to be filled with journals and maps preserved and still legible that could help answer many questions about the doomed expedition.

“It looks like the ship, in many ways, was fully operational and then suddenly deserted,” Harris said. “All the cabin doors were opened, almost as if there was a rush to see if anyone was on board as it sank. We don’t know.”

Read more right here.

Artifacts Unveiled from the Doomed Franklin Expedition

Artifacts recovered from the HMS Erebus help solve the 160-year mystery of the doomed Franklin Expedition.
A diver examines a cannon in the wreck of the HMS Erebus
A diver examines a cannon in the wreck of the HMS Erebus. Image: Thierry Boyer/Parks Canada

The fates of the HMS Erebus and Terror has been an enduring mystery since they vanished in 1846. Part of the British Royal Navy fleet, the ships were being lead by Captain Sir John Franklin on an expedition through the Northwest Passage in 1845.

Both ships and the entire 129-man crew were lost.

In the following years, search parties uncovered gruesome clues to the final days of the Franklin Expedition. Evidence began to piece together the disease and madness that gripped the crew when their ships became stuck in the ice, and they struggled to survive in the harsh environment.

The Rae–Richardson Arctic Expedition embarked in 1848 along the route of the Franklin’s ships. They found no trace of the expedition, but heard Inuit accounts of some 30 members of the crew found dead at a makeshift encampment on King William Island. The mutilated corpses and contents of the kettles revealed desperate acts of cannibalism. This story was supported by hundred of bone fragments found with cut marks on the bones consistent with de-fleshing.

Later, bodies of three crew members were found mummified in the Arctic permafrost on Beechey Island. Analysis of the remains showed that, besides exposure to the extreme temperatures, it was likely pneumonia and lead poisoning from the soldering on their food tins, found nearby, that caused their deaths.

The study suggested the men “would have suffered severe mental and physical problems caused by lead poisoning” before they died.

A note found with the remains on King William Island written by Francis Rawdon Moira Crozier, Franklin’s second-in-command, stated the crew had abandoned the ships in April of 1848. They had not been seen since, until the wreck of the Erebus was found last year in Queen Maud Gulf between Victoria Island and mainland Canada.

3D printed model of the HMS Erebus wreck
High precision 1:130 3D-printed model of the HMS Erebus wreck created by CARIS and TECTERRA.

After boring through 6.5 feet of ice to get to the wreck, underwater archeologists have since pulled up numerous artifacts, including ceramic plates, rigging, a 680-pound cannon, and the ship’s bronze bell.

These items were on display briefly in May at the Canadian Museum of History. A virutal exhibit can be viewed right here.

Ice dive to the Erebus wreck
Hole cut into the ice so divers could reach the Erebus wreck.

Artifacts from the Franklin Expedition

A brass 6-pounder cannon from the wreck of the HMS Erebus
A brass 6-pounder cannon from the wreck of the HMS Erebus. Image: Parks Canada

The brass bell from the HMS Erebus
Brass bell from the HMS Erebus found in the wreck. Image: Thierry Boyer/Parks Canada

Illuminator artifact found in the Erebus wreck
Illuminators were used onboard the Erebus to shine light into cabins and other dark spaces. Image: Parks Canada

A patent medicine bottle found in the wreck of the Erebus
A patent medicine bottle found in the wreck of the Erebus. Image: Parks Canada

Ceramic plate used on the Erebus with the popular flow blue Whampoa pattern
A ceramic plate ca. 1840-1845 with the popular flow blue Whampoa pattern. Image: Parks Canada

A tunic button that belonged to a member of the Erebus crew
A brass tunic button that belonged to a member of the Erebus crew. Image: Parks Canada

via Live Science and Parks Canada

Franklin Expedition Erebus Shipwreck Found

170 years after the crew of the doomed Franklin Expedition succumbed to madness and cannibalism, the wreck of the HMS Erebus has been found.
Shipwreck of the HMS Erebus from the doomed Franklin Expedition has been found

After 170 years, Canadian explorers have found one of the two missing ships from the Franklin Expedition. The ships departed in 1845 with 129 men in search of the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean through the Arctic.

Related: Artifacts from the Doomed Franklin Expedition Unveiled

According to a note found in a mound of stones, the ships became stranded in ice. In 1848, the remaining crew abandoned the ships. Over the years skeletal remains and mummies preserved in permafrost have been found, with forensic evidence supporting Inuit tales that the men had resorted to cannibalism for survival. They had also most likely been driven to madness by lead poisoning from the containers used to store food on the ships.

Up until now, however, the missing ships, HMS Erebus and Terror, had not been seen since they vanished in 1846. The Erebus wreck was found near King William Island, where two long-dead men were found in a lifeboat in 1859.

The latest search for the missing ships was announced in July.

via Washington Post