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The Vessel

HMS Investigator

HMS Investigator was built in Greenock, Scotland, in 1848. This 422-ton merchant vessel measured 118 feet (36 m) in length and 28 feet (8.6 m) in width, and had three masts with square sails (ship-rigged). Purchased by the Royal Navy, she was adapted for Arctic exploration in the Blackwall shipyard near London. In May of 1848, she sailed under Sir James Clark Ross with HMS Enterprise in the Royal Navy’s first attempt to find Sir John Franklin and his missing ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. After returning to England in 1849, she sailed again in January 1850 with Enterprise in a second expedition to find Franklin, this time led by Captain Richard Collinson. Under the command of Lieutenant Robert McClure, who later became Captain and Vice-Admiral, Investigator sailed around Cape Horn and entered the Northwest Passage by the Beaufort Sea, and was eventually abandoned in Mercy Bay in 1853.

HMS Investigator HMS Investigator. Inboard profile plan of 'Investigator' (1848).
© 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.