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

The Vessels

HMS Terror

HMS Terror was a bomb vessel of the Vesuvius class. These ship-rigged vessels (three-masts with square sails) were built solidly to carry two mortars with a complement of 10 canon including eight 24-pounder guns. Their robust construction made them good candidates for polar exploration. A little over 325 tons, Terror was 102 feet (31.1 m) long and 27 feet (8.2 m) wide. Built in the Davy shipyard in Topsham, she was launched on June 29, 1813. Erebus took part in the War of 1812, and after some service in the Mediterranean, she started her service as an exploration ship in 1836 when she took part in her first Arctic trip under the command of George Back. Having barely made it back to Ireland, she was repaired and in 1839 left England with HMS Erebus as part of James Clark Ross’ expedition to Antarctica. During the four year voyage, she was under the command of Francis Crozier. Before departure with Sir John Franklin’s expedition in 1845, she was equipped with steam engines and a screw propeller for auxiliary propulsion. In her last voyage, she was still under the command of Captain Crozier.

Profile drawing of HMS Terror HMS Terror. Profile plan of 'Terror' (1813)
© National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

David Lyon, The Sailing Navy List. All the Ships of the Royal Navy – Built, Purchased and Captured – 1688-1860, Conway Maritime Press, London, 1993.
Lincoln P. Paine, Ships of the World. An Historical Encyclopedia, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston and New-York, 1997.