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Title: Finding HMS Erebus
Title: with narration by Marc-André Bernier and Ryan Harris, Parks Canada Underwater Archaeology Team
The video begins with shots of the various research vessels that were involved in the search for HMS Erebus.
Marc-André Bernier: The 2014 search for John Franklin’s ships relied on several research vessels.
The Coast Guard’s icebreaker Sir Wilfrid Laurier,
the HMCS Kingston from the Royal Canadian Navy,
the Martin Bergmann provided by the Arctic Research Foundation,
and the One Ocean Voyager from One Ocean Expeditions.
A photograph shows people at an event in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, followed by photographs of a metal artefact from the ship.
Since 2008, the search has drawn from Inuit knowledge, both past and present.
The discovery on an island of a davit fitting from the ship
gave a clue as to the location of the wreck.
The underwater archaeology team is seen going about their daily work of searching using side-scan sonar.
The crew is carefully lowering the research vessel Investigator from the well deck of the Coast Guard vessel Sir Wilfrid Laurier.
Ryan Harris: So, each day of the survey, the Parks Canada research vessel Investigator
would be carefully lowered from the well deck of the Coast Guard vessel Sir Wilfrid Laurier.
The vessel navigates the water and then we see one of the crew member lowering the side-scan sonar into the water.
From there, we would motor out to conduct a full day of survey with towed side-scan sonar,
starting at about 7:00 in the morning and continuing until 8:00 in the evening
when we would come back to the ship to refuel and start preparing for the next day.
Various images of Ryan Harris examining the sonar images and from the vessel towing the side-scan sonar.
Marc-André Bernier: So that is how the day goes: we have a sonar image that scrolls along a screen.
In fact, the first images we received in this case
showed a complete picture of the wreck. It appeared suddenly.
The wreck sonar image is shown on one of the screens.
There was absolutely no doubt that it was a wreck,
and thanks to the measurements that we could take from this image, we knew it was one of the Franklin wrecks.
Ryan Harris and other members of the Underwater Archaeology Team are seen looking at a computer screen on the research vessel Investigator.
Ryan Harris: Well, we’re looking at the first sonar contact that we’ve imaged since starting the survey here in 2008.
We surveyed one line in this new interesting survey area,
so this is the second line in this new area,
and we had just started southbound on the second line and passed right over top of this wreck structure.
I think we could tell exactly what it was in a few seconds.
It’s definitely a shipwreck and we’ve got to learn a lot more about it.
Jonathan Moore: So that was about what, five, ten minutes ago? Ryan Harris: I would say so.
Jonathan Moore: What was the reaction like? Scientific detachment, or...
Ryan Harris: I would liken it to winning the Stanley Cup.
The Underwater Archaeology Team is seen preparing to launch a remotely operated underwater vehicle.
A few days later, we were able to return once again to the newly discovered site,
this time with our remotely operated vehicle, with a high-definition video camera system.
We were able to make a somewhat brief 40-minute dive on the site,
where we were able to get the first visuals on the wreck.
Underwater shots of various features of HMS Erebus taken by the remotely operated underwater vehicle.
In that time, we saw a number of features,
which clearly reinforced that this was one of Franklin’s ships.
We of course found two cannon off the stern.
Off the port stern quarter of the wreck, we could also see a number of detached deadeyes.
A storm had been blowing for a few days prior to the ROV dive,
and that had served to churn up the sea, so it wasn’t very easy to see
and so we reluctantly had to recover the vehicle
and start planning for a return visit with our diving equipment.
Photos of Prime Minister Steven Harper, Minister of the Environment Leona Aglukkaq and members of the Parks Canada team at the announcement of the find of HMS Erebus.
Marc-André Bernier: Back in Ottawa, the discovery of one of the two ships of the Franklin expedition
could finally be announced to Canadians.
The Underwater Archaeology Team is seen preparing to dive on HMS Erebus.
Immediately after this announcement, we returned to the Sir Wilfrid Laurier
in order to perform the first dives on the site of the shipwreck.
Time was short. It was really a race against time,
but out of a possible five days, we had two where conditions allowed us to dive.
Our goal was to gather as much information as possible to identify the ship,
but above all to prepare the next steps.
A diver enters the water, followed by underwater shots of divers exploring HMS Erebus.
Ryan Harris: And certainly it was the most, probably the most remarkable dive I can ever recall in my career.
The wreck site would loom five or six metres overhead,
that’s almost two stories tall, standing proud of the sea floor.
And we were struck just by the incredible preservation of the ship’s structures,
and the artifacts on site really speaking to
the final moments of the ill-fated 1845 Franklin expedition.
Shots of a copper bilge pump.
For example, these beautiful copper bilge pumps on either side of the main mast.
We can actually see examples of these on the ship’s plans.
Shots of two cannon lying amongst broken timbers.
We were struck by the beautiful green colour
on the two cannon that are found astern of the vessel.
A diver is seen swimming past a large anchor.
We came across at least six anchors on the site.
Ships destined for polar exploration were outfitted with as many as ten anchors,
and it seems that a number of them survive in place.
A diver is seen looking at the sternpost.
We can actually see both an inner sternpost and an outer or end post.
Between the two is where the propeller would have been situated.
Members of the Underwater Archaeology Team onboard the RV Investigator after the dive.
Jonathan Moore: What a dive!
Ryan Harris: That was the best dive of my entire life!
Jonathan Moore: It’s going to take a lot to beat that one.
Ryan Harris: You couldn’t ask for more on this wreck site.
It’s astounding how much is there. Pump heads, the large top of the Massey pump.
Jonathan Moore: Thierry’s going to go bananas with those pumps.
Ryan Harris: And…
Underwater shots of a diver examining the ship's bell.
Jonathan Moore: The ship’s bell.
The bell has a broad arrow on it too.
Underwater shots of divers examining other features of HMS Erebus, followed by shots of the team reviewing a diagram of the ship and of a conservator unwrapping the ship's bell in a laboratory.
Marc-André Bernier: So this is really a magical dive, in which we see not only the ship,
but all the rigging and machinery, making it a truly magical dive
that also gives a glimpse of the incredible opportunities for us to learn about this expedition,
and truly solve the mystery of what happened to the crew of this Franklin vessel that was shipwrecked.
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© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by Parks Canada, 2015.