Probe finds signs of doomed Franklin expedition

By David Ljunggren

Explorers trying to trace two ships from the doomed 1845 Franklin expedition in Canada's Arctic found fragments of copper sheeting likely to have come from the vessels, one of the explorers said on Friday.

Sir John Franklin, his 128 crew and the British ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror were seeking the fabled Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans when they became stuck in ice. The men all died and the ships vanished.

"The archeological discoveries exceeded our expectations. We found copper fragments which could well have come from one of the ships we're looking for," said Robert Grenier, chief of underwater archeology at Parks Canada.

"They revealed the prior presence of considerable number of these sheets," he told reporters. "This was for us, I would say, a very significant find."

Copper did not exist naturally in the region and the sheets could not have been made by the local Inuit, he said.

The team found the fragments during a six-week trip in August and September to three islands near O'Reilly Island in the Queen Maud Gulf, close to where Franklin's ships are believed to have sunk.


Canada Franklin expedition Labrador Sir John Franklin Erebus and Terror Grenier Strait of Belle Isle