THE POSSIBILITY OF BEING AMONG the first people to lay eyes upon the Erebus and Terror in more than a 160 years is a oncein- a-lifetime opportunity for everyone involved in this summer’s Royal Canadian Geographical Society flag expedition, but for One Ocean Expeditions — a leader in polar cruising whose Voyager vessel is among the best-travelled private ships in the Northwest Passage in recent decades — the importance of this summer’s search in the Victoria Strait goes far beyond the lost ships of the Franklin Expedition.
“A find would be spectacular,” says Andrew Prossin, managing director of One Ocean. “It would ripple around the world in a geopolitical sense, and would be an important part of strengthening our claim to sovereignty over the High Arctic. It would also have a real impact on northern economic and social development.”
One Ocean offers logistical support to researchers in the region, runs an internship program for students at Nunavut’s Arctic College and has delivered sporting goods from southern Canada to remote northern communities; it seeks to give back to the region that sustains its business. In this respect, the Erebus and Terror present a unique opportunity.
Finding the lost ships would draw a huge amount of attention from academics and the general public alike, Prossin asserts, “and this spike in interest could very likely translate into increased interest in the culture and arts of the North, and an increased number of visitors to the region.”
“The results,” continues Prossin, a Fellow of the RCGS, “of the bottom surveying taking place this summer will undoubtedly contribute to improved charting and navigational aids in that part of the Victoria Strait. It will have made the Northwest Passage a more commercially navigable route under Canadian guidance and authority.”