Searching for HMS Terror: Hunt resumes for 2nd Franklin Expedition ship

A Parks Canada-led team resumes the search this week for HMS Terror, the second ship in the ill-fated 1845 Franklin Expedition.

Parks Canada-led team turns its attention to finding remaining ship lost for over 170 years

Marc-André Bernier, Parks Canada's manager of underwater archelogy, sets a marine biology sampling quadrat on the port side hull of HMS Erebus in 2015. (Parks Canada)

A Parks Canada-led team resumes its search this week for HMS Terror, the second ship in the doomed 1845 Franklin Expedition.

After locating HMS Erebus in Sept. 2014 a team of researchers, the Canadian Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Navy continue to look for HMS Terror off the shores of King William Island, part of a $16.9 million, five-year commitment by the federal government to learn more about the sunken wrecks.

Underwater archaeologists with Parks Canada will return to the wreckage of HMS Erebus, photograph the starboard side, survey the debris field and document any changes to the ship since a visit last summer.

Parks Canada plans to use the information for further archaeological work scheduled for 2017.

Then, the team made up of the Coast Guard's icebreaker Sir Wilfrid Laurier; the Navy's HMCS Shawinigan, staffed with members from the Canadian Hydrographic Service; and the Martin Bergmann, a research vessel belonging to the Arctic Research Foundation; will turn its attention to finding the remaining ship — lost for over 170 years somewhere in the waters of the central Canadian Arctic.

While the HMS Erebus was found largely intact, a historian who studies Inuit oral traditions surrounding the Franklin expedition thinks searchers might not be so fortunate with the Terror. 

"I think it's going to be a little bit harder, because the story is that it was crushed in ice," said Louie Kamookak. 

As the story goes, HMS Terror was trapped in ice somewhere between King William Island and Victoria Island, part of where Parks Canada plans to search over the next few weeks.

"If it's into pieces, then it's going to make it a lot harder to find, I'm pretty sure," Kamookak said.

"With the high current in that area, if it breaks into pieces then a lot of it is scattered around that strait. Hopefully they find something."

If they do, questions still remain over who has ownership of any artifacts.