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

Parks Canada's Expedition

Collaborating Organizations 2013 HMS Erebus and HMS Terror Expedition

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 eight 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 and project director, as well as underwater archaeologists, Jonathan Moore, Thierry Boyer, Charles Dagneau and Chriss Ludin. 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.

Arctic Research Foundation

The Arctic Research Foundation (ARF) is a Canadian private charitable foundation established in 2011. The vision of ARF is to support long-term sustainability in the Arctic through innovation in knowledge and research capacity by promoting the mobilization and use of shallow-draft near-coastal research vessels in the Arctic.

In the second of a three-year collaboration, ARF is again outfitting and providing the research vessel, the R/V Martin Bergmann, for use by the Government field research team. The vessel will allow the research team to conduct survey and marine research efforts, focused on the locating of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, throughout the ice-free Arctic season on a multi-year basis. Use of this dedicated research platform will extend the available survey window, thereby increasing the possibility of a find, while optimizing the search time in the two areas of interest (Adelaide Peninsula west of O'Reilly Island in the South and Victoria Strait/Alexandra Strait in the North).The ARF's role is also through strategic planning and providing guidance on mission planning and delivery.

Supporting a variety of Arctic programs, while using Canadian technology and expertise, an efficient use of resources through a partnered multidisciplinary approach, and through public-private partnership with Arctic Research Foundation, we maximize the short and long-term benefits to the North and to participating departments and groups such as Parks Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, Canadian Space Agency, National Defence, Natural Resources Canada, Government of Nunavut and others.

Canadian Coast Guard

2013 will mark the Canadian Coast Guard's fifth season supporting the work of the Underwater Archaeology team in the search for the lost Franklin vessels. The UAS will again work from the Coast Guard Ship Sir Wilfrid Laurier for a seven day period. The charting products that have come out of the project to-date are of great interest to the CCG for their operations in this part of the Northwest Passage. Parks Canada is pleased to recognize the Coast Guard's commitment to saving lives, responding to environmental and other natural disasters, clearing the way for maritime traffic, and ensuring Canada's waterways are safe and accessible.

From providing navigational aids and icebreaking assistance, to search and rescue, maritime security and marine communications, the Coast Guard's significant role in the Arctic cannot be overstated. CCG icebreakers are deployed to the Canadian Arctic each year specifically to provide services in support of the various mandates of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and the CCG, as well as to meet the general needs of the people and the Government of Canada. Every year, from late June to early November, the CCG deploys one light, two heavy, and four medium class icebreakers to the Arctic. These icebreakers operate in a harsh climate with some of the most challenging sea ice conditions in the world. They are often the first vessels into the Arctic each shipping season and the last to leave. The CCG also has two vessels that provide services on the Mackenzie River and Beaufort Sea. The Coast Guard's Arctic activities, many of which are delivered in partnership or on behalf of other federal departments and agencies, academic institutions, and northern communities, include: Escorting commercial ships through ice to ensure access to Northern communities; Supporting scientific endeavours such as hydrographic charting and marine science; Maintaining aids to navigation in the Canadian Arctic waterways; Acting as the lead federal agency overseeing response to ship-source pollution incidents north of 60; Providing marine search and rescue (SAR) services; Operating Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS) centres, detecting distress incidents and providing information to mariners; Resupplying remote Arctic areas where commercial shipping services are not available; and providing support to other government departments, agencies and other organizations to conduct important work in the Arctic environment.

Canadian Hydrographic Service, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

The Canadian Hydrographic Service is a federal government branch made up of Canada's ocean and freshwater mapping experts. As part of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Canadian Hydrographic Service conducts surveys and publishes nautical information and charts related to tides, sea bed depths, sailing directions, marine hazards and other types of information that contribute to navigation safety, scientific research and other marine activities. The main users of this information are typically commercial vessel operators and recreational boaters, as well as other individuals and industries that rely on Canada's waters for business or recreation. Canadian Hydrographic Service has carried out hydrographic surveys in the north dating back to as early as 1910, and in recent years has teamed up with the Canadian Coast Guard to conduct new surveys in the Arctic to obtain new information on the shape and heights of the seabed and navigational hazards across northern waterways. This information is used for updating and improving navigational charts in the North, a task growing increasingly more important as more commercial and tourist vessels navigate Arctic waterways. This seabed mapping led to a natural partnership between the Canadian Hydrographic Service and Parks Canada and its other expedition partners to help locate the lost ships at the bottom of the Northwest Passage and formalized the Arctic Charting and Mapping Pilot Project which was led during the 2011 and 2012 Franklin survey field seasons. In addition, the 2012 field season led to the charting of a new, safe navigational corridor between King William Island and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society Islands; a corridor that will save approximately 7 hours of navigational time for ships travelling around King William Island.

CHS worked with the Department of National Defence (DND) to investin in LiDAR (airborne bathymetry) during the 2011 and 2012 field seasons for portions of the search area. This provided bathymetry information for shallow areas and Parks Canada and CHS with crucial depth information for uncharted near-shore waters that will greatly support Parks Canada during the 2013 season. As well, the side-scan sonar data collected by Parks Canada, as in past years, will be provided to CHS to supplement their own hydrographic survey data by providing seabed classification information. Sea floor depth information collected by Parks Canada's autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) will also be incorporated by CHS in future updates to navigational charts of the region.

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, 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.

Canadian Space Agency

The mandate of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is to promote the peaceful use and development of space, to advance the knowledge of space through science and to ensure that space science and technology provide social and economic benefits for Canadians.

Since its creation in 1989, the CSA has set out to ensure that all Canadians learn and benefit from the innovations of space science and technology to the greatest extent possible. Its objectives are to support and promote a highly competitive space industry and address the needs of Canadian society. With almost half of Canada's GDP growth in the knowledge-intensive sectors of the economy, the Canadian Space Program is a key driver behind continued leadership on the world stage, new opportunities for industry and scientists, and long-term social and economic benefits for all Canadians.

The CSA proudly supported the 2012 interdepartmental Arctic Charting and Mapping project, and specifically the 2012 campaign led by Parks Canada in search for HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. As part of its contribution, the CSA provided images, topographic data and near shore marine hazards products derived from Canadian satellite RADARSAT-2 and other high resolution optical remote sensing imagery. These products and images provided the 2012 project team with reconnaissance data to define the Arctic coastline, identify targets of hydrographic significance and near-shore topography. This data will greatly support Parks Canada's 2013 search while the team is working in close proximity to previously un-surveyed shorelines.

Royal Canadian Navy (RCN)

Bounded by the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and home of the Great Lakes, Canada is arguably one of the foremost maritime nations on the planet. Canada's navy – versatile, multipurpose and combat-capable – diligently protects our interests by safeguarding our maritime approaches, exercising sovereignty over our waters, protecting our offshore natural resources and contributing to global security. The navy is composed of approximately 8,500 regular and 5,100 reserve sailors.

Parks Canada's Underwater Archaeologists will be joined by personnel from the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) who will be both observing and providing technical assistance with respect to some of Parks Canada's newly acquired remote-sensing technologies, directly supporting UAS staff during the five and a half week survey from the Martin Bergmann.

Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC)

As an agency of Canada's Department of National Defence (DND), DRDC provides DND, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and other government departments as well as the public safety and national security communities the knowledge and technological advantage needed to defend and protect Canada's interests at home and abroad.

DRDC has loaned Parks Canada an additional side-scan sonar system that will be towed behind the UAS research vessel Investigator. This military-grade sonar will allow significantly more area to be covered on any given survey day. The Investigator and this second sonar will be deployed from the Laurier during the 7-day survey targeting Victoria Strait. Personnel from DRDC will be providing technical assistance with respect to some of Parks Canada's newly acquired remote-sensing technologies, directly supporting UAS staff during the five and a half week survey from the Martin Bergmann.

Nunavut Department of Culture and Heritage

The Department of Culture and Heritage's mandate is to preserve and enhance Nunavut's culture, heritage and languages. The Department's 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 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 Nunavut department of Culture and Heritage is again providing expertise in terrestrial archaeology related to the Franklin-related sites located on the shores of Erebus Bay and is fostering support of the Inuit community for the project. The terrestrial archaeology team will accompany the seven day survey that is to be staged from the Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

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.