Inside the HMS Terror, at the bottom of Terror Bay near King William Island in the Canadian Arctic, a remotely operated vehicle recorded stunning images. Plates remain stacked on their shelves, bottles are sitting upright, and Captain Crozier’s desk sits undisturbed after 170 years.
Not New Persia related, but fascinating!
Parks Canada is exploring the wrecks of the HMS Terror and the HMS Erebus, both recently discovered (in 2016 and 2014, respectively). This is the first new physical evidence speaking to the fate of the Franklin expedition in 26 years since excavations conducted on King William Island in 1992 found bone fragments and evidence of cannibalism.
In Search of the Northwest Passage
The Franklin Expedition departed England in 1845 in two ships, the Erebus and Terror, bound for the Arctic to find the Northwest Passage leading to the Pacific Ocean. The expedition did find the Passage, but only after abandoning the ships and traveling overland in a futile attempt to escape the ice.
The two ships were icebound in September 1846 and remained trapped until April 1848, according to a note discovered later. The crew’s intent was to leave the ships and walk to the Back River on the Canadian mainland.
Inuit natives saw the crew heading south but they never reached their destination. None ever returned to England.
Finding the two ships in good condition raises many questions about the fate of the sailors of the expedition. If the crews abandoned ship in 1848, how did the ships arrive where they are now? The ships rest far apart and must have sailed to their last resting places. Why did some of the crew return to the ships and man them again? Why did they split up? And why didn’t they sail farther to safety?
The Passage Found
Ironically, the crew would have discovered the nature of King William Island on the way south. A narrow strait separates the island from the mainland. Charts assumed King William Island was a peninsula and the only way around it was to the north. This led the Expedition to become trapped in the ice west of the island. If they had known there was a passage to the south, the expedition could have sailed on the east side of King William and possibly been spared the three years of imprisonment in the ice which led to their demise.
Perhaps the contents of Captain Crozier’s desk inside the HMS Terror will answer the mystery of the lost Franklin expedition.