Common menu bar links

The Underwater Archaeology Search for Franklin's Lost Vessels: HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site

Past Expeditions

2011 Expedition - Partners

Parks Canada Agency

Parks Canada, an agency of the federal government, protects and presents nationally significant examples of Canada's natural and cultural heritage in ways that ensure their ecological and commemorative integrity for present and future generations. Parks Canada's Underwater Archaeology Service (UAS) is a team of seven underwater archaeologists based in Ottawa, Ontario. The team, the only one of its kind in Canada, conducts underwater archaeological projects across the country, mainly at Canada's national historic sites, national marine conservation areas and national parks. It also provides underwater archaeology expertise to various levels of government and to non-government organizations, often working in collaboration with them, as it is the case of the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror expedition. The Parks Canada crew for the expedition will be Ryan Harris, Senior Marine Archaeologist for the UAS and project director, and Jonathan Moore, Senior Marine Archaeologist for the UAS. Mr. Harris and Marc-André Bernier, Chief of the UAS, will serve as Parks Canada's principal media contacts for the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror Expedition.

Canadian Coast Guard

The Canadian Coast Guard has a long and proud history of service in the Arctic. As early as 1884, government survey expeditions sought a shorter navigational route to Western Canada through Hudson Bay and Strait to meet the needs of a growing economy. Arctic sovereignty patrols began in 1903 with CGS Neptune. Coast Guard has served Arctic Canada for generations.

Today, Canadian Coast Guard personnel, icebreakers, helicopters and other assets continue to help keep Arctic waterways open, safe, and clean. On the water and ashore, the Canadian Coast Guard's role in the Arctic includes: responding to maritime distress calls, managing the Northern Canada Vessel Traffic Services Zone Regulations (NORDREG), and broadcasting weather, ice information and navigational warnings through Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centres in Iqaluit, Nunavut and Inuvik, Northwest Territories; providing maritime search and rescue services; acting as the primary response lead for ship-source and mystery oil spill pollution incidents in waters north of the 60th parallel; maintaining aids to navigation in Canadian Arctic waterways; escorting commercial ships through ice to ensure access to Northern communities; delivering food, cargo, and fuel to remote sites where commercial shipping services are unavailable; supporting scientific endeavours such as hydrographic charting and marine science; conducting exercises and missions with the Canadian Forces to protect and secure Canada's Arctic sovereignty and advance the government's Northern Strategy; and providing support to other government departments, agencies and organizations to conduct research throughout the Arctic. For more information about the Canadian Coast Guard, please visit

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, a department of the federal government, contributes to providing Safe and Accessible Waterways for Canadians. The Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) is a Directorate of DFO's Science Sector and is responsible for charting the navigable waters of Canada to produce nautical charts and other publications that aid in safe navigation. CHS has carried out hydrographic surveys in the north dating back to as early as 1910. Surveys, using ice-capable ships and smaller launches deployed from those ships, have been the most common method to collect hydrographic information. Ice camps established in cooperation with Polar Continental Shelf Project in the 1970s and 80s were another means of collecting data in this harsh environment. The CHS Central and Arctic Region has a team of hydrographers that collect and manage hydrographic data to create nautical publications for the Arctic.
For Parks Canada's search for the Franklin Expedition vessels, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, the survey area falls within uncharted waters and the CHS will provide surveying expertise and technology to help map the area of interest and nearby routes for navigational charts. Information gathered during the search will contribute to improving charts of the Canadian Arctic. This year's mission will see two survey launches, the "Gannet" and "Kinglett" refitted to include high resolution multi-beam sonar. Mr. Andrew Leyzack, Engineering Project Supervisor, will be Hydrographer-in-Charge and scientific authority aboard ship providing liaison with the Commanding Officer for all survey operations. Hydrographic technical support will be provided by Multi-disciplinary Hydrographers Glenn Toldi, Glenn Macdonald and Arthur Wickens. Dave Tobio, a CHS Electronics Technician will also be joining this year's team.

Canadian Ice Service (CIS)

The mission of the Canadian Ice Service (CIS) is to provide the most accurate and timely information about ice in Canada's navigable waters. They work to promote safe and efficient maritime operations and to help protect Canada's environment.

The Canadian Ice Service (CIS), a division of the Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC), is the leading authority for information about ice in Canada's navigable waters. Ice in its many forms (sea ice, lake ice, river ice and icebergs) covers Canada's waters. As a result, it touches Canadian life in many ways. It affects: marine transportation in Canada's heartland as well as in the North; commercial fishing; offshore resource development; the hunting and fishing patterns of aboriginal peoples; tourism and recreation; and local weather patterns and long-term climate.

In direct support of their mission, the two main objectives of CIS are to ensure the safety of Canadians, their property and their environment by warning them of hazardous ice conditions in navigable Canadian waters, and to provide present and future generations of Canadians with sufficient knowledge about their ice environment, in order to support sound environmental policies.

Parks Canada's underwater archaeology team is dependent on the data provided by CIS in Canada's Arctic. As part of their research, the archaeologists utilize CIS information to gain knowledge of ice patterns in the Arctic, which allow them to determine the most opportune time to conduct their work. As their operational time approaches for projects such as the Arctic surveys, they monitor the CIS website to stay informed of current ice conditions which directly affects their field time. In addition, CIS can use archival data and historic satellite imagery to ascertain the general drift patterns of the ice, which may help determine the direction the ships might have drifted after they were abandoned. This information could in turn support the search being conducted by Parks Canada.

University of Victoria Ocean Technology Laboratory

Since 2003, the University of Victoria's (UVic) Ocean Technology Lab (OTL) has been developing and facilitating underwater technology. It has launched underwater technology projects ranging in scope from autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to the evaluation of underwater cameras and instrumentation for scientific use.

UVic is a national and international leader in the study of the oceans. Its areas of expertise include: ocean-climate interaction; ocean physics; marine geology and geophysics; biological and chemical oceanography; deep-sea ecology; ocean monitoring systems; coastal resource management; marine conservation; coastal erosion; underwater vehicle design; wave and tidal energy; and ocean technology and development.

Traditionally, underwater work that is below depths that are safe for divers has been done by remotely-operated underwater vehicles (ROVs): small vehicles that get power and control commands through a tether connected to the surface. The Parks Canada-led search for the Franklin vessels will enlist a deep-water, ROV that can be used to provide immediate authentication of potential targets, along with an operator to support its deployment. This ROV from UVic will allow for greater capacity compared to the one currently owned by Parks Canada.

UVic has also been working on modifications to an AUV which could lead to additional support in the search efforts. Although not finalized for this season, it may prove to be useful for any potential future searches by the Parks Canada team or for other similar survey efforts.

Nunavut Department of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth

The Department of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth's mandate is to preserve and enhance Nunavut's culture, heritage and languages. The Department's Culture and Heritage Division is responsible for the management of Nunavut's archaeological heritage. It administers Nunavut's archaeological research permit system, conducts archaeological training and research projects in collaboration with community and land claims agencies, and provides expertise on archaeological matters to government and non-government organizations. Dr. Douglas Stenton, Director of the Culture and Heritage Division, assisted by Dr. Robert Park, University of Waterloo, have led investigations, in recent past years, on islands near the underwater survey area for sites containing evidence of the Franklin expedition. The Government of Nunavut is also playing a role ensuring continuing liaison with the Inuit people of the Community of Gjoa Haven.

Community of Gjoa Haven

The project appreciates the ongoing support of the community of Gjoa Haven and the Inuit Heritage Trust. In particular, local historian and Franklin researcher Louie Kamookak, who has brought his considerable depth of experience and insight into Inuit traditional knowledge to the search, and to the Gjoa Haven Hamlet Council, who is to be thanked for its kind assistance and hospitality.

British Government (British High Commission)

The British High Commission in Canada works to advance the UK's interests in a safe, just and prosperous world by: developing and maintaining a wide range of substantive partnerships with Canada of real value to both countries; developing business between the UK and Canada, and encouraging Canadian companies to invest in the UK; and, providing effective and courteous public services.

A 1997 memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Great Britain, as owner of HMS Erebus and Terror, and Canada, as the nation in whose waters they are believed to have been lost, assigns control over "site investigation, excavation, or recovery of either of the wrecks or their contents" to Canada, in the event of their discovery.