Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Arctic Shipwreck Found After 170 Years, Solving "Great Mystery"

Have archaeologists solved the mysterious loss of the Franklin expedition?

A handout sonar image made available on 09 September 2014 by Parks Canada showing one of the shipwrecks of Sir John Franklin's ill-fated 1845-48 British Arctic Expedition on the sea floor in northern Canada. 

A sonar image of a shipwreck discovered in Canada’s Arctic is one of two vessels from Sir John Franklin’s doomed expedition, which got trapped in the ice in 1846. 

One of the most famous ships lost in the 19th century has been located in the Arctic, the Canadian government announced Tuesday, prompting Prime Minister Stephen Harper to declare that "one of Canada's greatest mysteries" has been solved. 

The shipwreck marks the final resting place of one of two vessels that disappeared mysteriously nearly 170 years ago, when a British naval expedition led by Sir John Franklin was attempting to navigate and map the Northwest Passage.

The ships, the H.M.S. Erebus and H.M.S. Terror, were lost in 1846 and both crews perished. Although the graves of a few of the men were discovered later on land and local Inuit reported seeing one of the ships sink, exactly what happened to the ill-fated voyage has been a source of intense debate and speculation over the years. (See "5 Shipwrecks Lost to Time That Archaeologists Would Love to Get Their Hands On.")

But now Canadian authorities have released sonar images of what appears to be a largely intact ship near Nunavut's King William Island, thanks to a remotely operated vehicle owned by Parks Canada.

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