A team of Parks Canada archeologists is returning to the Arctic today and plans to send divers to the wreck of one of Sir John Franklin¹s ships, the discovery of which was confirmed on Sunday during the 2014 Victoria Strait search activity in the Queen Maud Gulf.
With winter approaching, divers have a short window this year to examine the still unidentified vessel, which could be either HMS Erebus or HMS Terror, both of which were lost during Franklin’s ill-fated 1845 expedition. “We will try to gather as much information as possible to answer some basic questions,” says Marc-André Bernier, a Parks Canada archeologist who will be at the wreck site. “We’re going to be looking if we can identify which one of the ships it is, but we want to get an overall assessment of the site, as much information as we can, to plan the next steps.”
The divers will take photos and video of their findings and are hoping to see inside the ship; if they do, it will be the first time anyone has done so in nearly 170 years. Bernier says this is where the real archeological work begins. “We have a chance to look history in the eye.”
Bernier says there is a possibility that human remains will be found, but adds that it was too early to say whether the wreck would be raised. “That is an extremely complex and expensive operation,” he says. “Part of the value of the site rests in where the shipwreck is and we want to conserve that, but it’s going to be a step-by-step process.