Wednesday, July 28, 2010

HMS Investigator Found

The BBC News website has posted a story announcing that HMS Investigator has been found by the Parks Canada team. Of course, it was no great mystery where the Investigator was, but there were a few speculations as to its condition. Some had even argued that the Investigator might, like HMS Resolute, have drifted east and been the source of reported sightings of the Erebus and Terror, or that the mast seen by the men of the Anderson expedition was hers. These theories, at least, can be laid to rest.

According to the Parks Canada team, the ship is upright and in remarkably good shape; according to Canadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice, "You can make out all the planking on the deck, the details on the hull, all of the detail of the timber." Hopefully, it will not be too long before some of this imagery is shared with the public, particularly the Canadian public who have provided the funding and resources used to locate the vessel. No word yet on the copper sheathing. The only other detail is that the archaeologists have relocated the three graves (why do Arctic graves always seem to come in threes?) of members of the expedition who died of scurvy. Apparently inquiries are being made as to the disposition of these human remains, but the plan for Investigator herself is to leave the ship undisturbed.


  1. Here's one from the National Post:

  2. Thanks for this. The full article in the National Post has some excellent additional graphics. It's certainly exciting to see the ship, although I don't really think there was much likelihood that it would not be there ...

  3. And here is a more extensive story from the CBC with an even more dramatic photo.

    It certainly seems to me to reinforce what Franklin searchers such as Dave Woodman have been saying for years: there is every reason to expect that a British discovery vessel of this era could be very well preserved indeed. The Breadalbane even had her masts and part of a sail.

  4. And here is a video (!), which I would guess was pre-recorded before the actual discovery of the ship, in which Jim Prentice tells us why the discovery is so important. Curiously, one word seems to be missing from his spiel -- "sovereignty" -- so while it's nice of him to drop by, the script seems a little disingenuous ....

  5. An excellent editorial in the Globe and Mail puts things in perspective .

  6. Nice that HMS Investigator has been found. Even if she is only 36 feet under water, all has happened very, very quickly. It is surely a historically interesting discovery, although I presume that the contents of the vessel (if analysed in detail) will not be extremely exciting, since the crew abandoned the ship in order and with time. Let us hope that soon more detailed info and images are available, and that the Investigator does not lead to another futile political fight concerning sovereignty (like with other wrecks in the past, although there probably treasures played the main role).

    Now this discovery, while discarding definitely the theories of the “Anderson mast” and others, reopens also old questions. I am thinking specifically on the 1967 expedition of the Canadian Armed Forces to O’Reilly Island, where some pieces of copper sheeting were found, and someone suggested these to come from McClure’s ship. Now this being excluded, as it is completely impossible that the copper sheets drifted from Mercy Bay to almost the continent (with the ship remaining on the spot), the question is: where did these sheets come from? It seems established that Erebus and Terror are also excluded, so some other lost ship (Assistance, Pioneer, Intrepid ??) must be the solution.

    This discovery is certainly encouraging for the next step, the Franklin ships, were I have the intuition that the results will be quite the opposite, i.e, another failure.

  7. Admiral Wright's theory about the Utjulik wreck is now disproved.

    Perhaps the copper near O'Reilly Island was obtained through trade with Inuit having access to HMS Investigator and her remnants.

    I agree that it is not likely we will see such success in the Franklin search but I wouldn't give up. As Robert Grenier said we will at least know certain areas are negative. Plus, with evidence of the Expedition so scarce, finding a campsite could yield valuable clues.