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Second Vessel From Doomed Franklin Expedition Found In The Arctic

A depiction of the HMS Terror, commanded by the British admiral George Back (1796-1878), trapped in the ice.
De Agostini Picture Library
De Agostini/Getty Images
A depiction of the HMS Terror, commanded by the British admiral George Back (1796-1878), trapped in the ice.

A more than 160-year-old Arctic mystery has come to resolution: The HMS Terror, a vessel from a doomed Royal Navy exploration to chart an unnavigated portion of the Northwest Passage, has been found, Aleta Brooke, operations manager for the Arctic Research Foundation said.

The Guardian, which first reported the story, said the vessel is in "perfect condition." The paper reports:

"On Sunday, a team from the charitable Arctic Research Foundation [maneuvered] a small, remotely operated vehicle through an open hatch and into the ship to capture stunning images that give insight into life aboard the vessel close to 170 years ago.

"'We have successfully entered the mess hall, worked our way into a few cabins and found the food storage room with plates and one can on the shelves,' Adrian Schimnowski, the foundation's operations director, told the Guardian by email from the research vessel 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 flagship vessel of British Capt. Sir John Franklin's 1845 expedition, the HMS Erebus, was found back in 2014. According to the CBC, the HMS Terror was found just north of HMS Erebus wreck in Nunavut's Terror Bay.

How researchers located the HMS Terror after all these years is also likely to become the stuff of legend.

According to The Guardian, a researcher heard an Inuit man say that about six years ago he saw a large piece of wood that looked like a mast sticking out of the ice near Terror Bay.

He took a picture but lost the camera. He kept quiet all these years because he thought losing the camera was a bad omen.

The researcher took the Inuit man's story seriously and they found the wreck right where the man said he had seen it.

The Canadian government launched a formal search for the two vessels in 2008. It was a Parks Canada expedition that found the HMS Erebus and it is expected that Canada will attempt to confirm the HMS Terror find.

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.