Exclusive: Perfectly preserved HMS Terror vessel sank during disastrous expedition led by British explorer Sir John Franklin
The long-lost ship of British polar explorer Sir John Franklin, HMS Terror, has been found in pristine condition at the lower end of an Arctic bay, researchers have said, in a discovery that challenges the accepted history behind one of polar explorations deepest mysteries.
HMS Terror and Franklins flagship, HMS Erebus, were abandoned in heavy sea ice far to the north of the eventual wreck site in 1848, during the Royal Navy explorers doomed attempt to complete the Northwest Passage.
All 129 humen on the Franklin expedition died, in the worst calamity to make Britains Royal Navy in its long history of polar exploration. Search parties continued to look for the vessel for 11 years after they disappeared, but procured no trace, and the fate of the missing men remained an enigma that tantalised generations of historians, archaeologists and adventurers.
Now that mystery seems to have been solved by a combination of intrepid exploration and an improbable tip-off from an Inuk crewmember.
On Sunday, a team from the charitable Arctic Research Foundation manoeuvred a small, remotely operated vehicle through an open hatch and into the ship to capture stunning images that give insight into life aboard the ship close to 170 years ago.
We have successfully entered the mess hall, ran our route into a few cabins and detected the food storage room with plates and one can on the shelves, Adrian Schimnowski, the foundations operations director, told the Guardian by email from the research ship Martin Bergmann.
We spotted two wine bottles, tables and empty shelving. Found a desk with open drawers with something in the back corner of the drawer.
The well-preserved wreck matches the Terror in several key aspects, but it lies 60 miles( 96 km) south of where experts have long believed the vessel was crushed by ice, and the discovery may force historians to rewrite a chapter in the history of exploration.
The 10 -member Bergmann crew observed the massive shipwreck, with her three masts transgress but still standing, almost all hatches closed and everything stowed, in the midst of King William Islands uncharted Terror Bay on 3 September.