Arctic underwater vehicle tests OK'd

High Arctic waters

From CBC News

A Canadian archeological firm has been cleared to test robotic submersibles in Larsen Sound this summer, provided it does not disturb the possible resting place of Sir John Franklin's lost ships.

Nunavut regulators have approved a revised proposal from ProCom Marine Survey and Archeology's to test AUVs (autonomous underwater vehicles) in the sound, located 195 kilometres northwest of Taloyoak in western Nunavut.

Earlier this year, the Nunavut Impact Review Board rejected ProCom's original proposal, partly over fears the company's work might disturb an area where the wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror are believed to be located.

Archeologists have long been searching for the Erebus and Terror, which vanished — along with Franklin and his crew — during the British explorer's doomed expedition to the Northwest Passage in 1845.

When ProCom was invited to resubmit its application for the AUV project, the company was asked to address how it would avoid disturbing the shipwrecks should they be discovered during the tests.

"There was a commitment that should any such site be encountered that an appropriate buffer would be established immediately," review board official Ryan Barry told CBC News. "The location would be reported to the Government of Nunavut, and no further work would be done in that area."


HMS Erebus HMS Terror Sir John Franklin Larsen Sound Nunavut ProCom Marine Survey Ryan Barry