The Franklin Expedition

After watching the documentary “Buried in Ice” about the Franklin Expedition I become interested in learning more about this voyage. Specifically, I wanted to know what came of the ships. After doing a little research I was able to learn a lot more about the expedition. It was actually fairly easy to find information on the Franklin Expedition which I found surprising because I had never heard of it prior to class.
A lot of the articles that I was finding dated back to the Fall of 2014. It turns out that on September 7th, 2014 the remains of a ship were found underwater. On September 30th, the remains were officially identified as the remains of the HMS Erebus, one of the two ships of the Franklin Expedition. The ship had originally disappeared in 1846 when it became trapped in ice during the search for the Northwest Passage. Before September 30th nobody knew what had become of either ships.
The remains of the ship were found by a private-public Canadian research team called Parks Canada. They employed underwater archaeologists to dive countless times underwater to look at the remains. They were able to identify the ship as the HMS Erebus using artifacts that had been found on board the ship. The researchers were especially excited that they had found the HMS Erebus because it was believed that this is the ship that Franklin would have lived on. Researchers hoped to uncover his body and finally figure out what happened to him. There are many theories about what happened to his body but most popularly people believe that he either perished on land with his crew or that he was given a burial at sea prior to the entrapment in ice.
Unable to find Franklin’s body or any bodies at all, the researchers still conduct dives down to the ship remains today. In fact, the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently announced that the Parks Canada research team will be launching another search operation titled “Operation NUNALIVUT 15.” This is the 15th year in a row that Canada will be launching this search on the HMS Erebus. The operation will consist of 11 days of ice diving and underwater archaeology. The operation began April 1st and concluded on the 22nd. The results from this operation are still being determined but it is known that Franklin’s body still has not been found.
I doubt that after 15 years of searching the Canadians are going to give up now. It’s fascinating that after so long they are still able to find new information each time. I think part of their success can be attributed to developing technology. As our technological abilities progress every year our research capabilities progress as well making it possible to learn anything and everything you ever wanted to know.


One thought on “The Franklin Expedition

  1. It seems crazy to be so recently finding such a large ship that has been lost for a long time. I agree that the success most likely coincides with development in underwater archaeology technology. In class, we were shown a 3-dimensional image that the discovery team had created. The image was very pixilated and only 2-tone which makes me believe that is was computer generated based on maps of the sea floor and the ship itself.
    Although water can harshly salvage lots of artifacts, I wonder if the discovery team is doing some sort of excavation or search for specific items they believe would have been on board. I think that it would be very hard to keep these items safe as they are more than likely extremely water damaged and very fragile.
    Because the discovery is very recent, I doubt it will be in the news again for a while because of the large amount of work, not to mention costs, that still needs to be sorted out.
    I wish things like this were put in mainstream news more often. If it were not for this class, I do not think I would have gone seeking information that would have lead me to The Franklin Expedition discoveries. This class has definitely opened my horizons and expanded my browsing history for the better. Here are some more things I have learned about the HMS Erebus:
    -Found under only 11 meters of water
    -Bell of ship was found in full with “HMS Erebus” written across it
    -The Erebus and, sister ship, The Terror have been depicted by Doctor Who

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