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 - Results from the 2011 archaeological expeditions related to Franklin ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror

On September 1, 2011, the Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, today updated media on this summer’s two-phased Arctic archaeological surveys associated with the 19th-century pursuit of the Northwest Passage: the continuing search for Franklin’s HMS Erebus and HMS Terror and the closer examination of HMS Investigator and related land sites.

“Ruling out another 140 square kilometres in Canada’s vast Arctic waters, along with 25 kilometres of shoreline, the search for the elusive wrecks of the Franklin Expedition is further narrowed,” said Minister Kent. “The Harper Government applauds this team of experts who collectively made great strides in mapping these previously uncharted Arctic waters, in garnering new partnerships to support their efforts and in bringing Canada a step closer to uncovering the mystery of the lost Franklin Expedition.”

Ryan Harris measures the side-scan sonar towing configuration on the Kinglett Ryan Harris measures the side-scan sonar towing configuration on the Kinglett.
© Parks Canada
Hydrographer in Charge Andrew Leyzack, Ryan Harris, and Commanding Officer Stuart Aldridge during a survey logistics planning session on the bridge Hydrographer in Charge Andrew Leyzack, Ryan Harris, and Commanding Officer Stuart Aldridge during a survey logistics planning session on the bridge.
© Parks Canada

The 2011 search effort for Captain John Franklin’s vessels, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, brought together the expertise of a nationwide team of Canadian researchers and partners including the Canadian Hydrographic Service, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Government of Nunavut, the Canadian Ice Service and the University of Victoria’s Ocean Technology Laboratory. As with past seasons, Parks Canada combined its search efforts with the operations of the Canadian Hydrographic Service, which is responsible for systematically mapping and charting Canada’s Arctic to help ensure safe, navigable waters, with the support of the Canadian Coast Guard.

The survey team also used LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), contracted by the Canadian Hydrographic Service, which collects bathymetric data from an aircraft and can cover a significantly larger area than survey methods deployed by watercraft. Primarily used for charting the seabed, this technology can also detect shipwrecks. The LiDAR survey data is not yet available for analysis, but will be carefully reviewed in the coming weeks and months to determine if it reveals any further clues with relation to the Franklin vessels.

Doug Stenton and Jonathan Moore at Cape Felix Doug Stenton and Jonathan Moore at Cape Felix
© Parks Canada / Howard Jones

The Government of Nunavut also took part in the research with shoreline surveys along the northeast portion of the Royal Geographical Islands, along with surveying of an area on the most northerly point of King William Island, known as Cape Felix, where Franklin had set up an observatory.