HMS Terror Rediscovered 170 Years After Ill-Fated Northwest Passage Attempt

The fate of the Erebus and Terror was a popular subject for 19th century artists. John Wilson Carmichael

Unlike the Erebus, the Terror appears remarkably well preserved, with Schwimnoswki claiming: “If you could lift this boat out of the water, and pump the water out, it would probably float.”

Much may be learned from the state of the vessel, but perhaps the most important question is what the Terror was doing so far south of where records show it was abandoned. Jim Balsille, a philanthropist who helped establish the ARF, has proposed that crew members re-boarded the ship and sailed it south in a last desperate attempt to escape.

The ARF has previously noted that the quest to find the ships has led to the mapping of 1,200 square kilometers (470 square miles) of the Arctic seabed, providing much of humanity's knowledge of the region.

A route through the Canadian islands was found just four years after Franklin's mission, but it was only in 1906 that a journey was completed. Even then, widespread ice restricted passage to shallow-drafting ships, making the route useless for trade purposes.

Today the world is a very different place. More powerful ships have contributed, but it is mostly the astonishing decline in Arctic sea ice that has allowed the first giant cruise vessel to currently safely traverse the waters where so many died. In another few decades Franklin's dream may come true, but if so it will mean a nightmare for the rest of the planet.

[H/T: The Guardian]

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