Published On: Thu, Oct 10th, 2019

Arctic breakthrough: How archaeologists made ’astonishing’ 174-year-old find below ice | World | News

The Canadian team, under the banner of the “Victoria Strait Expedition” set out five years ago to find two Royal Navy ships thought to have been lost forever. In 1845, Captain Sir John Franklin led a British voyage consisting of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror to traverse the unnavigated section of the Northwest Passage. However, after not returning three years later, it was determined the entire expedition had perished.

Several pieces of evidence over the 174 years since inspired the Parks Canadian search team to use sonar scanning technology on the area the ships were last believed to have been.

As a result, Channel 5 sent a camera crew along, and their new series “Arctic Ghost Ship” was made.

The 2019 documentary explained: “In 1845, an ambitious British expedition set out to find one of the greatest prized in all exploration – the elusive Northwest Passage.

“Armed with the latest equipment, Sir John Franklin led two ships into uncharted Arctic waters, but they vanished, never to return.

“There is no story in the history of British exploration that ends as tragically as this, 129 men disappear off the face of the Earth.

“Clues have been found, bodies in the ice, unexplained sightings of a mysterious ghost ship, even signs of cannibalism.”

The series went on the explain how the team made a breakthrough on September 9, 2014.

It added: “But without the ships themselves, this remains one of the world’s most enduring maritime mysteries.

“In 2014, archaeologists mounted the biggest modern search for the wrecks, combining 21st-century technology and previously dismissed eyewitness accounts, they made an astonishing discovery.

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“It wasn’t even halfway onto the screen before you [we] knew what you [we] were looking at,

“I jabbed my finger at the screen and lunged forward and said: ‘That’s it.’”

When the divers headed down, they found the ship preserved an in good condition.

However, In September 2018, Parks Canada announced that the Erebus has deteriorated significantly.

A statement read: “An upwards buoyant force acting on the decking combined with storm swell in relatively shallow water caused the displacement.”

The underwater exploration in 2018 totalled only a day and a half due to weather and ice conditions and was to continue in 2019.

A recent report provided specifics as to ownership of the ships and contents.

The UK will own the first 65 artefacts brought up from HMS Erebus, while the wreck of both ships and other artefacts will be owned by Canada and the Inuit people.

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