Shipwreck Discovered 'In Perfect Condition' 168 Years After Failed Expedition

“The HMS Terror, commanded by the British admiral George Back (1796-1878), trapped in the ice, February 22, 1837. “ Photo: De Agostini Picture Library / Getty

In 1845, Royal Navy officer Sir John Franklin set out with two ships—the HMS Terror and HMS Erebus—and a crew of 129 to explore the Northwest Passage. But after three years of travel, the ships got trapped in thick ice and were never seen again. The crew abandoned the vessels, but nobody survived the harsh conditions. Now, after 168 years, the Terror has been discovered in “perfect” condition in the Arctic Ocean near Canada.

The Guardian reports search parties looked for the two vessels for 11 years after the wreck, but always came up empty. In 2014, though, researchers found the remains of one of the ships, the Erebus. But the Terror’s fate remained a mystery.

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That is, until now. The newspaper says a 10-person team from the Arctic Research Foundation aboard the vessel Martin Bergmann navigated a small remote-controlled watercraft into the Terror’s wreckage, which lies in the Arctic Ocean in the appropriately-named Terror Bay, just off of King William Island.

Photo: CTV News/YouTube (footage from Arctic Research Foundation)

They discovered it after a local Inuit named Sammy Gogvic told researchers about a piece of wood he had spotted jotting out of the water while fishing. That piece of wood was most likely one of the masts.

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The foundation’s operating director told The Guardian:

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.

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He went on saying the wreckage was in pristine shape. So pristine, in fact, that he told the site: “If you could lift this boat out of the water, and pump the water out, it would probably float.”

Much of the ship’s glass is still intact, metal hull-reinforcement sheeting is still visible, the three masts are still standing (but broken), the helm looks in good shape (see topshot), and the bowsprit still thrusts forward with purpose.

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Sounds like the ultimate maritime “barn find.”

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David Tracy

Writer, Jalopnik. 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle, 1985 Jeep J10, 1948 Willys CJ-2A, 1995 Jeep Cherokee, 1992 Jeep Cherokee auto, 1991 Jeep Cherokee 5spd, 1976 Jeep DJ-5D, totaled 2003 Kia Rio