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Canada Finds One Of Two Missing Explorer Ships

Canada Finds One Of Two Missing Explorer Ships
Viliame Raibulu Ratoto
September 11
13:17 2014

One of two British explorer ships that vanished in the Arctic more 160 years ago has been found, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on Tuesday.

The HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, which were led by British Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin and were carrying 128 hand-picked officers, were last seen in the late 1840s as they searched for the fabled Northwest Passage.

In 2008, Canada announced it would search for the ships in a bid to assert its sovereignty over the passage, which was found during searches for the missing ships.

The wreckage was confirmed by Parks Canada on Sunday using a remote underwater vehicle in the Victoria Strait near King William Island, Nunavut.

Mr Harper, speaking in Ottawa on Tuesday, said it remains unclear which of the two ships has been found, but images show there is enough information to confirm it’s one of the pair.

“This is truly a historic moment for Canada,” he said, beaming, uncharacteristically. “This has been a great Canadian story and mystery and the subject of scientists, historians, writers and singers so I think we really have an important day in mapping the history of our country.”

Mr Franklin and 128 hand-picked officers and men vanished on an expedition begun in 1845 to find the fabled Northwest Passage.

While no one knows for sure exactly what happened to the crew, experts believe the ships were lost in 1848 after they became locked in the ice near King William Island and that the crews abandoned them in a hopeless bid to reach safety.

Reports at the time from local Inuits say the men, desperate for food, resorted to cannibalism before they perished, the BBC reported.

The failure of the expedition was a huge event in England in the mid-19th century; The Globe and Mail likened it to a moon landing gone wrong today.

Mr Franklin’s vessels are among the most sought-after prizes in marine archaeology, and Mr Harper said the discovery would shed light on what happened to Mr Franklin’s crew.

Tantalising traces have been found over the years, including the bodies of three crewmen discovered in the 1980s.

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