- slide 1 of 2
After 162 years the HMS investigator was found in arctic waters off the shore of Mercy Bay, Canada. The sailing vessel's captain was McClure and had left Britain in 1848 on a rescue mission to find Sir John Franklin who had perished together with his team, while searching for the Northwest Passageway. The vessel was found intact under just 25 feet of crystal clear icy waters using sonar and metal detectors by a team of Canadian archeologists.
Captain McClure was said to be the first person to actually discover the location of an entrance to the Northwest Passageway, but the vessel was abandoned after getting trapped while trying to transit the same passage. The captain and his crew remained on the ship until they were rescued by a British navy ship in the same area. The ship was left intact with no damage but was trapped in icebergs that compromised its hull. Later it took in water as the ice subsided and sunk gently to the ocean floor. The vessel was found sitting upright on the ocean floor with all artifacts still intact.
Researchers from the Canadian parks service said that they would study the effects, but not remove them from the vessel. In addition to this the researchers found three graves next to the vessel, probably for members of the crew who had passed away while waiting for a rescue ship.
The vessel was found only fifteen minutes after the search started. This was because Captain McClure's records showed the approximate location where the vessel had been grounded. His records also confirmed that they had spent three winters on the ship waiting for rescue.
The geological department said that the find was very important because it has the history and story of the sixty men who had to spend more than two years stranded on the arctic ice. The vessel deck was found to be complete, but some damage was done in places where the ice was holding, and this is what made the ship take on water and sink. There is no way of knowing when it sunk other than that it was some time after the crew was rescued. The hardest times for the crew was when the summer came and they thought that the ice would melt and the vessel would be freed, but it never happened.
With HMS investigator found, the research team can move on to the next step of doing extensive research using robotic equipment that can film and find any more evidence that may shed more light on the stranded sailor’s experiences. After collection of enough data the researchers will put pictures and information for display concerning the vessel on the online library and museum.
Although the search for the HMS investigator did not last long, the results of the search will now be available for people to read and understand the difficulties sailors and discoverers went through in the old days when there was no communication and sailors left their homes without knowing of their fate or whether they would be able to return safely from their voyages.
- slide 2 of 2
- The Discovery of North West Passage by Robert McClure and Sherad Osborne. Longman Publications