Canadian archeologists find lost ship in Arctic

Wed Jul 28, 2010 11:50pm EDT
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By Ka Yan Ng

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian archeologists have discovered the wreckage of the ship that has been credited with discovering the fabled Northwest Passage, saying the vessel remains in good condition after being abandoned more than 150 years ago in the Arctic ice.

Archeologists were able to snap sonar images of HMS Investigator on the weekend not long after they arrived at the remote Mercy Bay site in the Northwest Territories, Marc-Andre Bernier of Parks Canada said on Wednesday.

The Investigator was the British ship that was sent to search for two lost vessels that were part of Sir John Franklin's ill-fated 1845 Royal Navy expedition to discover the Northwest Passage linking the Atlantic to the Pacific through Canada's Arctic archipelago.

"This is definitely of the utmost importance," said Bernier, chief of the underwater archeology service with Parks Canada, the federal body conducting the Arctic survey.

"This was the ship that confirmed and nailed the discovery of that passage."

He said one of the other archeologists had likened the discovery to finding one of Columbus's ships.

The icy waters have helped preserve the ship, which is sitting upright on the sea floor in about 11 meters (36 feet) of water and not far from the location where it was last documented in 1854.

The wreck had been difficult to find because of its remote location off Bank's Island and also because the waters are usually very icy. This year, the team had an ice free area to work in.   Continued...