Transcript for Hunt for Franklin Ships

Animated title sequence: Parks Canada Intro

Natalie Faye at the Parks Canada UnderWater Archeology headquarters with underwater archoelogist Ryan Harris.

[Natalie Faye] Hi I’m Natalie Faye, resident tweeter at Parks Canada. Today I’m at parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology headquarters which will serve as mission control as our under water archaeologists once again head up north high above the arctic circle to search for the lost Franklin ships. I’m joined now by Ryan Harris, senior underwater archaeologist at Parks Canada who will be leading the search.

[Ryan Harris] We’ll be working out of Cambridge Bay beginning August 10th and going all the way to September 19th and that actually amounts to a full five and a half or even six weeks of field work. Our longest field season to date.

Illustration of Erebus and Terror

Portrait of John Franklin

(Painting) HMS Terror by Admiral Sir George Back

Natalie Faye and Ryan Harris at the Parks Canada UnderWater Archeology headquarters.

HMS Erebus and HMS Terror are of central importance in the history of polar navigation and arctic exploration. They also speak to a very early period of interaction between the Inuit and Europeans, they’re obviously inextricably linked to the search for the north west passage and for these reasons they were designated as a National Historic Site. [Natalie] Can you tell us where abouts in the Arctic you guys are going to be searching this year?

[Ryan] Yes, essentially we have two distinct survey areas in the north and in the south and those relate to the actual two ships and where we believe they have come to lie. So the northern search area is in the Victoria Strait where it funnels into the Alexandra Strait all West of King William Island.

Finger pointing to locations on map.

Natalie Faye and Ryan Harris at the Parks Canada UnderWater Archeology headquarters.

And then the southern area is close to the Adelaide Peninsula in the Queen Maud Gulf. We also continue to enjoy the support of the arctic Research Foundation. Once again we will be working side by side with the Government of Nunavut they will be conducting land based archaeology on the shores of Erebus Bay

Photo of Parks Canada staff talking to the Government of Nunavut.

Illustration of ship wreck.

Natalie Faye and Ryan Harris at the Parks Canada UnderWater Archeology headquarters.

where there are sites that relate to the desperate final march of the crews that retreated from the two ships. We also continue to work closely with the Inuit communities of the North. This helps us to better understand and interpret the Inuit testimony from the 19th century that points to where we’re going to look for these two ships. And then beyond that we continue to work with a number of federal government partners from the Canadian Coast Guard, the Canadian Hydroactive Service, the Canadian space agency, the Canadian ice service, valued partners to make this all happen. What’s going to be new for 2013, however, is that we’re actually bringing on board the Royal Canadian Navy and we will be working with defense research development Canada or DRDC and we’ll be taking advantage of their expertise to help implement some of the new technologies we’re deploying this year.

[Natalie] Can you tell me a little bit about the technology you’ll be using this year?

[Ryan] Yes, so in addition to the side-scan sonar systems that we’ve deployed in years past

Photo of side-scan sonar system.

Natalie Faye and Ryan Harris at the Parks Canada UnderWater Archeology headquarters.

we have a number of exciting new technologies we plan on using this year including a state of the art autonomous underwater vehicle, essentially a self propelled, self guided, under sea robot that will scan the sea floor in search of the ships. We’ll also have a new remotely operated vehicle with high definition television cameras on board. In the event that we find a significant target we will be able to return very interesting images of that. For the most part we’ll be working from the research Vessel Martin Bergmann

Photo of the research vessel Martin Bergmann.

Photo of Coast Guard ship Sir Wilfred Laurier.

Natalie Faye and Ryan Harris at the Parks Canada UnderWater Archeology headquarters.

which has been provided to us by the Arctic Research foundation, one of our project partners. But we will also have a full seven days on the Coast Guard ship the Sir Wilfred Laurier.

[Natalie] Other than the archaeology work that you’ll be doing up there, what are some of the other benefits coming out of this?

[Ryan] Well, working with the Canadian hydroactive service for four field seasons we’ve amassed quite a bit of information on the depths of the sea floor throughout the survey area,

Photo of Ryan Harris studying depth charts on computer.

Natalie Faye and Ryan Harris at the Parks Canada UnderWater Archeology headquarters.

much of which has remained unchartered to the present day. Probably the most direct example I could think of is the establishing of a navigable route through the Alexandra Strait. So that’s quite significant when it comes to search and rescue.

[Natalie] Do you think that we can find these ships?

[Ryan] We certainly hope so. We are fairly confident that they will be found eventually and we hope that Parks Canada is there when it happens. The search for Erebus and Terror is logistically very very complex. And I think with the partnerships that we continue to build upon, with the technologies that we’re bringing to the table, we’re systematically able to cover more ground every year, so we’re quite excited at how things are unfolding for this year. And we continue to enjoy the support I think of Canadians across the country and we’re very pleased to share this experience with them.

[Natalie] We’ll our team is ready to go here and we’ll make sure to keep everyone updated on our twitter feed on our facebook page and on our website. Thank you so much for joining us here at mission control and stay tuned.

[intense music]

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© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by Parks Canada, 2013.

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