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

Stories of the Northwest Passage

HMS Erebus and HMS Terror were lost during Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated 1845 expedition to chart Canada’s Northwest Passage. The lost vessels have been sought for more than 160 years, creating great anticipation for their possible discovery. HMS Investigator was one of the first of many ships sent to find the lost Franklin expedition in the mid-19th century, but Captain McClure also used the voyage to search for the final link to the Northwest Passage. Trapped in the confines of Mercy Bay, the shores of which now form part of Aulavik National Park of Canada, the crew overwintered for two harrowing years in this area. The crew was eventually rescued by other Royal Navy ships and, upon their return to England, Captain McClure and his crew were credited with the discovery of the Northwest Passage. While the lost Franklin expedition is better known than McClure’s voyage, both these expeditions are key events in the Arctic exploration of Canada.