Over 170 years ago, two British ships attempted to find a Northwest passage: the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror. Both ships became stuck in the Canadian Arctic ice, and never completed their voyage. Every member of the crew was lost and assumed dead. Eventually, the abandoned ships sunk just off the coast of King William Island. Now, Parks Canada has released a new video of the HMS Terror wreck, and it is just as creepy as you would imagine.
The wreck of the Terror was originally found in 2016 by the Arctic Research Foundation, two years after the wreck of its sister ship, Erebus, had been located. The never-before-seen footage captured by Parks Canada offers a haunting glimpse inside the wreckage of the doomed ships. It basically sounds like the beginning of a pretty great ghost story.
The footage was first shown at the Umiyaqtutt Festival in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut. "Umiyaqtutt" is Inuktitut for "shipwreck." Utilizing a remotely operated vehicle (or ROV), Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Team was able to venture inside the wreck for the first time ever, capturing footage of a ship frozen in time.
"The Inuit Heritage Trust is very pleased with the recent discoveries on HMS Terror," said Pamela Gross, President of the Inuit Heritage Trust in a statement. "As joint owners of the artifacts, we share Parks Canada’s excitement over the amazing potential to unlock more of this mystery which, combined with Inuit traditional knowledge, will help paint a more complete story of the Franklin Expedition and its fate."
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What researchers found inside the wreckage was astonishing. Beds, desks, glasses, plates, and plenty of other objects were perfectly preserved by the freezing Arctic water and layers of sediment. From the looks of the video footage, you might expect one of the crew to walk into a cabin at any moment.
The most exciting part of this expedition is the possibility of finding perfectly preserved written documents, which may offer more insight into exactly what happened during the voyage, and why the crew decided to abandon the ships.
"Each drawer and other enclosed space will be a treasure trove of unprecedented information on the fate of the Franklin Expedition," said Marc-André Bernier, Manager of Underwater Archaeology for Parks Canada in a statement.
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The doomed voyage of these two ships formed the basis for the book, The Terror by Dan Simmons, which was also adapted into a critically-acclaimed television series for AMC. While that story featured the addition of a supernatural monster, the actual story (and the footage of the wrecks) is scary enough on its own.