Maybe, just maybe, the 160-year dream of discovering one of the lost ships of the Franklin Expedition has already been realized, and the Parks Canada-led team that completed a month-long search last week just doesn’t know it yet.
That’s a slim but real possibility, acknowledges Parks Canada underwater archeologist Ryan Harris, who says a portion of the seabed data gathered during this summer’s high-profile probe of Arctic waters near King William Island still has to be examined for possible traces of HMS Erebus or HMS Terror, the two Royal Navy vessels commanded by Sir John Franklin that famously vanished during his search for the Northwest Passage in the late 1840s.
“It’s possible, because there actually is some AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle) data that I haven’t looked at yet, and there is some multi-beam sonar data,” said Harris, who led the Canadian government’s renewed hunt for the ships.
“There were areas of the ocean that were really shallow north of the Royal Geographical Society Islands, so we have a small path that was done with multi-beam because it would have been a bit tricky to tow a side-scan sonar system in those shallow waters,” Harris told Postmedia News.
“And that data has to be post-processed at a very high resolution to identify targets in the shallow waters.