Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Team visited the wreck site of HMSTerror from April 24 to April 29, 2017 with an archeologist from the Government of Nunavut. The group was supported by the Gjoa Haven Hunters and Trappers Association and CAP Enterprises of Gjoa Haven.

HMS Terror Underwater Views


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A group of people in winter clothing are digging through snow. Snow machines and a qamutik (sled) are in the background.

[Atmospheric music.]

Title: Spring 2017 dive on HMS Terror.

An aerial shot of a camp with tents, qamutiks, snow machines and the flags of Canada and Nunavut.

A series of underwater shots showing a canon, a draught mark on the side of the ship and what appears to be a door.

An aerial shot shows the camp again.

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© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by Parks Canada, 2017.

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Getting below the ice

Science met history with the ongoing archeological research on HMS Terror. To get started, team members from the Gjoa Haven Hunters and Trappers Association dug a two–metre-deep hole through the sea ice. Next, the underwater archeologists launched their underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) which collected photos and video of the exterior of HMS Terror.

Ten things we observed or discovered on and around HMS Terror:

At least four anchors are still attached in position.
Small boat
A small boat lies on the seabed off the port stern quarter of the vessel.
The propeller was not installed at the time HMS Terror sank.
The rudder is not in place. It could be on the seafloor covered with silt.
The bell has fallen from its belfry support and is partly on the deck of the ship.
The bell seen lying on its side on the upper deck.
HMS Terror Bell has fallen from its support and located on the deck

Water closets
There are two water closets (washrooms) on the rear deck. The door of one of them is open.
The windlass (a type of winch used to move heavy weights) is displaced and a cable is warped onto it.
One cannon was seen on the upper deck (it is not on a carriage).
More stern gallery windows are broken than there are intact.
Draft marks
The markers on the stern that show how much water is between the waterline and the bottom of the ship are in roman numerals and are visible.
Helm of the ship partially covered in marine life.
HMS Terror helm, as viewed from the stern.

What the evidence tells us:

The ship was not left at anchor.
Both bow anchor cables are secured to their respective anchors and lashed to either bulwark (the sides of the ship above the deck).
It appears that the small boat went down with the ship.
This ship’s boat was on the seafloor below the davits (cranes used to lower boats).
It is impossible to say at this point if HMS Terror was closed up when it was abandoned.
Some hatches are open. There is no evidence of boarded up openings.
It is impossible to say at this point if HMS Terror had been re-manned and sailed there or if it drifted in.
Both scenarios are still possible with the information on hand.


The discovery of HMS Terror would not have been possible without the support, advice and knowledge shared so generously by Inuit of Nunavut. The Government of Canada is committed to engaging Nunavut communities in the Franklin project and related initiatives over the long-term.

Conservation of the wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror is the focus for Parks Canada, the Government of Nunavut and designated Inuit organizations.

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