Local Scientist Helped Find the Long-Lost Franklin Ship
(written by Mark McNeil of the Hamilton Spectator September 12, 2014)
For nearly 170 years, the fate of Sir John Franklin's lost ships was a blank space of mystery in history books that told nightmarish stories of stranded sailors freezing and starving to death on a doomed mission to find the Northwest Passage. Scores of archeologists and adventurers came up empty tryinig to find Franklin's Erebus and Terror. But that all ended this week after a Burlington hydrographer (someone who maps bodies of water) decided to take a trip to a remote island in the southern Queen Maud Gulf...away from the main search area inNunavut.
“The breakthrough seemed to come serendipitously,” said Scott Youngblut, 37, who works for the Canadian Hydrographic Service. He was part of Parks Canada-led effort to find the ships and has been up north since early August. In a satellite-relayed interview from the CCGS Sir Wilfree Laurier, Scott said he asked a couple of archeologists from Nunavut to join him in a helicopter run to the island where he was going to set up equipment. Queen Maud Gulf lies between the mainland and the southeastern corner of Victoria Island. As luck would have it, the helicopter pilot (Andrew Sterling) noticed a significant artifact (an iron fitting)...it was later confirmed that is was likely from one of the ships.
“Therefore, we changed the search area to be more closely aligned to where that find was made,” said Youngblat. “And, sure enough, shortly after, the Parks Canada archeological team's side-scan sonar was able to find the wreck.” The discovery was formally announced by Prime MinisterStephen Harper.
Youngblat's role in the Arctic has been to lead a team of 5 others from the hydrographic service, also working at the Canadian Centre for Inland Waters (Burlington)...all of whom live locally. Their job has been to help ships involved in the search with navigation and to expand hydrographical knowledge of the area. “Only 10% of the Arctic is charted to modern standards and that is a real challenge,” said Youngblat. “Our primary mission up here is to expand on the existing corridors that link communities, to make up what is referred to as the Northwest Passage.” Although a father of three young children, he has been making annual four-six week trips to the Arctic for several years. He is thrilled with the discovery, “It is amazing to be part of this...to witness it...to be an active participant. With 'the window closing with the weather' he expects to spend another week or two up north before returning home to celebrate their wedding anniversary with his wife and family. She's wondering about the Franklin ship...which could be either the Terror or the Erebus.
Franklin Ship Discovered in Arctic Confirmed as HMS Erebus
(announced by Canadian Press...October 2014)
The historic shipwreck found in the Arctic has been identified as HMS Erebus, the vessel on which John Franklin himself sailed ~ in search of the Northwest Passage. The discovery of the wreck, found some 11 metres below the surface in the Queen Maud Gulf, was confirmed. The two ships of the Franklin expedition and their crews, 129 members in all, disappeared during an 1845 quest for the Northwest Passage. So far, the location of the other ship, HMS Terror, remains a mystery.
Terrible Tragedy to Franklin and Cozier...
so expectant of 'exploration success'!
Terrrible Tragedy to Britain for the loss of 129 men and 2 ships
and the country's aspiration for discovery.
Franklin Ship's Bell Recovered by Arctic Divers ~ Nov. 7, 2014
Seven dives made to HMS Erebus before weather conditions drove them away.
It wasn't supposed to be a recovery dive. Two Parks Canada divers were meant only to survey the wreck. Any recovery operations would come later after assessing the wreck's site. One of the divers noticed a small bronze object on the deck and Marc-Andre Bernier exclaimed, “I found the bell.”
Two bronze cannons, numerous pieces of the ship's rigging, even old rope have been spotted in the debris surrounding the wreck. Those artifacts will have to wait for subsequent dives next summer when the Arctic ice recedes. Every ship that sails has a bell...staying with that ship for the entire career until lost in action or until the ship is decomissioned.
The final resting place of the HMS Terror remains to be found.
The remains of the ships are designated a National Historical Site of Canada.
The exact location is withheld to preserve the wreck and prevent looting.
Implications of Tragedies
Consider: We have astronauts exploring 'outer space' ~ not all have been successful...lives were lost.
Consider: Remember New York City when unexpected circumstances occurred...thousands were killed when terrorists crashed the Twin Towers...the World Trade Centre demolished...now rebuilt.
Consider: Boston's Marathon of 2013 killingly disrupted by terrorists.
Consider: Policemen shot in 'the line of duty' and firemen who daily risk their lives.
Consider: Hurricane Sandy's devastation and destruction along America's east coast October 2012.
Yet, the deciduous trees in autumn lose thier colourful dress,
their branches suffering from lack of leaves and birds without their treetop nests.
After a harsh winter, the trees know (within their veins)
they will be refreshed when spring arrives!
When obstacles give us unimaginable setbacks, it's often years before we see 'any good' from disasters.
Consider the words of John D. Rockefeller (American businsessman born 1839):
I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything...even nature. He further states: I always try to turn every disaster into an opportunity.
It is my hope that readers of the foregoing history
have been as intrigued as I have been..
Merle Baird-Kerr...rewritten January 17, 2016
Postscript: Lost at Sea, published July 2015 from Raleigh, North Carolina
Scientists using underwater vehicles and sonar have found a shipwreck off the coast of North Carolina that may date back to the American Revolution of the late 1700's. The expedition led by Duke University marine scientist, Cindy VanDover, found the previously unknown wreck in mile-deep waters
on July 12 using an underwater robut and a manned submarine. They found artifacts including an iron chain, glass bottles, an unglazed pottery jug and navigational instruments including a metal compass. Archeologists say the wreck appears to date back as far as the 18th century...a rare find!