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Franklin's Ships Finally Found!

The Franklin Expedition was a British voyage of Arctic exploration led by Captain Sir John Franklin that departed from England in 1845 aboard two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. Those ships were prepared for travel in ice and had previous history in polar waters. Nevertheless, they became icebound and then disappeared.

As all of the 129 officers and men of the expedition either died or disappeared, there was nobody to tell the story of the expedition's failure. The last confirmed location was only known from a message left behind - the ships had been frozen in the ice off the northwest coast of King William Island.

On September 7, 2014, the Canadian team of the Victoria Strait Expedition located one of Franklin's two ships in about 11 metres / 36 ft. of water in the eastern portion of Queen Maud Gulf, southwest of King William Island. The next month the Canadian Prime Minister confirmed that the wreck was that of the Erebus.

Then, on September 12, 2016, the Arctic Research Foundation expedition announced that the wreck of HMS Terror had also been found in Arctic waters. It was submerged at a depth of 24 metres / 79 ft. south of King William Island in Terror Bay and it was in pristine condition.

The discovery of the wrecks has finally solved the mystery of what happened to the ships (about 170 years after the Franklin Expedition began), but, in spite of numerous searches, the fate of all of the officers and crew of the two ships remains uncertain. Evidence suggests that a combination of cold, starvation, disease (including scurvy, pneumonia and tuberculosis) and lead poisoning (from the tin cans used to preserve their food) killed everyone in the Franklin party.

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