Canadian Archeologists Find Nineteenth-Century Ship in Arctic

Jul 30, 2010
Outside Magazine

Canadian archeologists this week discovered the wreckage of a British ship that was abandoned more than 150 years ago, Reuters reports.

The ship, the HMS Investigator, had been sent by the British in 1850 to search for the two lost vessels of Sir John Franklin's 1845 Royal Navy expedition.  Those ships were lost trying to discover the fabled Northwest Passage.  After becoming trapped in the Arctic ice for two winters, the Investigator was abandoned and eventually sank.

Cold water has helped preserve the Investigator, which was found upright in 36 feet of water off Bank's Island in the Northwest Territories. Icy waters had  made it difficult to find the wreckage before.  This year the site was ice free.

The Investigator has been credited with discovering the passage, which links the Atlantic to the Pacific via Canada's Arctic archipelago.

"This was the ship that confirmed and nailed the discovery of that passage," said Marc-Andre Bernier, chief of the underwater archeology service with Parks Canada, the federal body conducting the Arctic survey.

The archeologists plan to take more pictures this week.

--Michael Webster

Filed To: Exploration

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