The Guardian reports that earlier this month the second of Sir John Franklin’s ships was found, 168 years after its doomed expedition, perfectly preserved, on the bottom of the bay.
The long-lost ship of British polar explorer Sir John Franklin, HMS Terror, has been found in pristine condition at the bottom of an Arctic bay, researchers have said, in a discovery that challenges the accepted history behind one of polar explorationâ€™s deepest mysteries.
HMS Terror and Franklinâ€™s flagship, HMS Erebus, were abandoned in heavy sea ice far to the north of the eventual wreck site in 1848, during the Royal Navy explorerâ€™s doomed attempt to complete the Northwest Passage.
All 129 men on the Franklin expedition died, in the worst disaster to hit Britainâ€™s Royal Navy in its long history of polar exploration. Search parties continued to look for the ships for 11 years after they disappeared, but found no trace, and the fate of the missing men remained an enigma that tantalised generations of historians, archaeologists and adventurers.
Now that mystery seems to have been solved by a combination of intrepid exploration â€“ and an improbable tip from an Inuk crewmember.
On Sunday, a team from the charitable Arctic Research Foundation manoeuvred a small, remotely operated vehicle through an open hatch and into the ship to capture stunning images that give insight into life aboard the vessel close to 170 years ago.
â€œWe have successfully entered the mess hall, worked our way into a few cabins and found the food storage room with plates and one can on the shelves,â€ Adrian Schimnowski, the foundationâ€™s operations director, told the Guardian by email from the research vessel Martin Bergmann.
â€œWe spotted two wine bottles, tables and empty shelving. Found a desk with open drawers with something in the back corner of the drawer.â€
The well-preserved wreck matches the Terror in several key aspects, but it lies 60 miles (96km) south of where experts have long believed the ship was crushed by ice, and the discovery may force historians to rewrite a chapter in the history of exploration.
The 10-member Bergmann crew found the massive shipwreck, with her three masts broken but still standing, almost all hatches closed and everything stowed, in the middle of King William Islandâ€™s uncharted Terror Bay on 3 September.
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