As It Happens

Relative of HMS Terror captain reacts to ship's discovery, 168 years after failed Franklin Expedition

Like a ship in a bottle, researchers say they've found the remarkably well-preserved wreck of explorer Sir John Franklin's second lost vessel, HMS Terror, in the icy waters of an Arctic bay.
Francis Rawdon Moira Crozier was a British naval officer and captain of HMS Terror. Both the Terror and HMS Erebus were lost in the doomed Franklin Expedition. (Wikipedia)
For nearly 170 years, it sat hidden in icy Nunavut waters. But researchers now say that they have discovered the wreck of the lost Franklin expedition ship, HMS Terror.

Researchers with Arctic Research Foundation say they found the wreck using a submersible vehicle. The Terror, and the other Franklin ship, the Erebus, were abandoned in sea ice in 1848, on Sir John Franklin's expedition to locate the Northwest Passage. All 129 men on the expedition died.

Terror Bay, where it is reported HMS Terror was found, sits on the south shore of Nunavut's King William Island. The Terror was abandoned north of the island, according to correspondence recovered by the expedition's crew. (Google Maps)

"We were delighted having waited so long!" Martin Crozier, a relative of a commander of HMS Terror, tells As It Happens guest host Helen Mann. 

Crozier is a relative of Francis Crozier, the Royal Navy captain who commanded the HMS Terror. He is particularly excited to see reports that the shipwreck is well-preserved and that captain Crozier's cabin is largely intact.

"He was the brains behind it," Crozier insists. "That's why he was chosen to go up there because he had a vast amount of experience."

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 2014. (Parks Canada)

Theories vary about why the crew decided to abandon ship and about what brought the Terror down. Crozier hopes that finding the wreck in good condition will provide new evidence about what happened.

"There are so many different computations of it," Crozier explains. "It does make one wonder but it's certainly a great find."

Like the Erebus discovery in September 2014, the Inuit community played an important role in locating the shipwreck.

"Other people thought they knew best where the ships were," Crozier explains. "But let's face it, if you were living there, you would pass that information along."

Parks Canada's underwater archeology team prepares to enter the water on their HMS Erebus dive from 2014, while being supported by the Arctic Research Foundation's vessel the Martin Bergmann. (Dan Bard/Department of National Defence)

Crozier says deciding what to do with the wreck will be difficult but ultimately he hopes it will end up in a more accessible location than the high Arctic.

"Why not send it back from whence it came?" Crozier quips."Send it up the Thames and we'd gladly have it. But no, I think somewhere in Canada where the climatic conditions are better, where people could actually see it!"


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?