Working with Inuit to Explore the Wrecks

Now that Inuit and Canada co-own the artifacts, all research plans will be developed in close collaboration with Inuit Heritage Trust. Inuit perspectives, priorities and knowledge will be an important part of all future explorations of the wrecks.

RV David Thompson

Named after the great land geographer, RV David Thompson supports Parks Canada`s marine science and underwater archaeological work. In 2019, the vessel will be used in the survey and excavation of HMS Erebus. It will be at the site in early September for up to two weeks. It will then move to the Terror site for survey work if weather and ice conditions permit.

Exploration 2019 plans

During the short window of time available in the Arctic for underwater archaeology, Parks Canada and its partners will continue to explore and study the wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror this summer, with the goal of better understanding the Franklin Expedition.

HMS Erebus

The aim for the Erebus site in 2019 is to start a more in-depth study through excavation. The area around and on the ship will continue to be mapped and documented, and once this is done, excavation will begin in selected areas.

Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Team will focus their study and recovery of artifacts that relate to the officers, specific individuals, the crew and the Royal Marines. Important underwater infrastructure to aid future archaeological work will also be installed with the help of the Canadian Coast Guard and CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

HMS Terror

The data analyzed from the spring 2017 dive has been useful for planning the next steps in research for the HMS Terror. Weather and ice conditions permitting for 2019, divers will use similar methods and equipment that helped find and confirm the two ships to:

  • see what condition the ship is in
  • assess the conditions of the archaeological objects after over a century of resting in saltwater
  • and study its environmental setting

To do this, the team will use remote-sensing tools to map a safe marine route to Terror Bay and the wreck site, and continue documenting the wreck. The data will be used to develop an archaeological plan for future study of the shipwreck.