Don’t give up the ship, no matter how long it’s been missing! The HMS Investigator, a ship lost over 150 years, was found! Archeologists from Parks Canada located the vessel in 15 minutes thanks to a sonar scan. A merchantman, the HMS Investigation was on it’s second voyage to the high Arctic searching for the lost Franklin expedition. She became trapped in the ice on Banks Island in the Beauford Sea in 1853 and was abandoned. Lost for 157 years, her remains have been located.
Sir John Franklin was an explorer who had mapped two-thirds of the northern coastline of North America. He firmly believed that there was a Northwest Passage to the Orient through the Canadian Arctic. Two ships, the HMS Erebus and Terror were dispatched on May 19, 1845. Equipped with the latest technology, including steam engines and canned food, 24 officers and 110 crewmen set sail for the Arctic.
The ships were last seen by a whaler, the Prince of Wales on July 26, 1845 near Lancaster Sound, in the high Arctic near Baffin Bay. The two ships apparently became trapped in the ice near King William Island around September, 1846. What happened after that is not fully known.
Several rescue expeditions were launched in search of the crews. A note was found telling of how Sir John Franklin died on June 11, 1847. Sketchy details of possible interaction with local Inuit tribes were reported. Also darker stories of cannibalism. Most of Franklin’s expedition probably died from starvation, the extreme cold and other diseases. More recent theories say they may have succumbed to insanity due to lead poisoning from the crude canned food of the time.
In 1848, the HMS Investigator and Enterprise sailed to search for Franklin’s group. Commanded by Robert McClure, the ship was trapped in the ice in Mercy Bay on June 3, 1853. In 1857, The HMS Resolute found her still stuck, but in fair condition. McClure and his crew did make it back to England. But after time, the exact location of the HMS Investigator became unknown. An account from Inuit stories from 1910 tell of them using the ship as a source for copper and iron. A voyage in 1915 failed to find the vessel.
On July 22, 2010, a team from Parks Canada began their search for the missing vessel. Just three days later, a sonar scan was begun in the Beaufort Sea near Banks Island. In just 15 minutes, the remains of the HMS Investigator, lost for over 150 years, was found! There are no plans to raise the vessel, however a robotic ROV will dive and take pictures. The team will then continue to search for the HMS Erebus and Terror.