Franklin Canadian Arctic ship found: One of two vessels lost for over 160 years re-discovered

The ship was one of two which went missing in 1845

Click to follow

One of two British explorer ships that vanished in Canada’s Arctic over 160 years ago has been found, Canada’s Prime Minister has announced.

The find comes over half a decade since Canada re-launch its search for the ships headed by British Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin, in an attempt to solve an enduring historical mystery.

The HMS Erebus and HMS Terror were last seen in the late 1840s.

Sir John and his 128 hand-picked crew had set off in 1845 to find the fabled Northwest Passage, but vanished when they became ice-bound off King William Island in the Victoria Strait in the Arctic territory of Nunavut.

The mystery has gripped Canadians for generations, with local Inuit claiming that the desperate men resorted to cannibalism before they died.


In one of history's largest rescue searches, from 1848 to 1859 crews scoured the seas for the vessels and in turn discovered the Northwest Passage.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said it unclear which of the two vessels has been found. They proved hard to find because they drifted in ice for hundreds of miles and the Inuit gave conflicting accounts of where they sank.

However, images of the wreck show there is enough information to confirm it is one of the pair.

"I am delighted to announce that this year's Victoria Strait expedition has solved one of Canada's greatest mysteries, with the discovery of one of the two ships belonging to the Franklin Expedition," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement.

"Finding the first vessel will no doubt provide the momentum - or wind in our sails - necessary to locate its sister ship and find out even more about what happened to the Franklin Expedition's crew."

Additional reporting by Reuters and AP