The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Canada’s Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, announced Friday that Parks Canada Underwater Archaeologists will return to Canada’s Arctic to continue an expedition of international significance; the continuing search for the lost vessels HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, from the ill-fated Sir John Franklin voyage.
“Our government is pleased to pull together for a fifth season both existing and new Canadian partners and researchers to continue the search for HMS Erebus and HMS Terror,” said Minister Aglukkaq. “Being from Nunavut, I am especially excited about this project, as it will collectively increase our understanding of early Arctic exploration and its impact on Canada’s development as a nation, while showcasing the beauty and unique culture of the Arctic.”
The search capacity this year will be the most comprehensive yet. Beginning around August 10th and continuing for almost 6 weeks – the longest amount of continuous time on the water to date – Parks Canada will be joined by a broad array of partners for a fifth season in search for the historic shipwrecks. This year, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and Defence Research & Development Canada (DRDC) will lend their expertise and enthusiasm to the project, which also includes the Arctic Research Foundation, the Government of Nunavut, Canadian Hydrographic Service, Canadian Coast Guard, the Canadian Ice Service, and Canadian Space Agency.
The Parks Canada-led survey team will conduct the underwater search from aboard the Arctic Research Foundation’s Research Vessel Martin Bergmann for the full 6 weeks or so, and will be further supported during that time by the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Sir Wilfrid Laurier for an additional week. The team’s traditional side-scan sonar surveying method will be boosted this year with the addition of a military-grade, side-scan sonar provided by DRDC, and by a new autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) and remotely-operated vehicle (ROV), recently acquired by Parks Canada.
As with all past surveys, the data acquired will be shared among partnering organizations, which contributes to important priorities like safe navigation and environmental knowledge of the Canadian Arctic.
“I am proud of the incredible commitment, research capability and momentum this team continues to harness from so many valuable partners each year,” added Minister Aglukkaq. “Having already covered more than 800 km2, the team is narrowing their search on the world’s most elusive shipwrecks, while systematically surveying Canada’s vast and largely uncharted Arctic waters. Weather permitting, this year’s search will significantly build upon the important scientific and archaeological understanding in this fascinating part of Canada’s history, and geography.”
Canada’s Arctic has a rich, diverse history related to the Arctic exploration of Canada, the enduring quest to discover the Northwest Passage and the significant roles in the history of Inuit-European relations in this vast territory. The search for the Franklin vessels offers a unique opportunity to celebrate the nationally significant places, persons and events that make up the rich tapestry of our country’s Arctic heritage.
Press Release, August 15, 2013