Parks Canada marine archeologists will dive this summer on HMS Terror, the once-elusive Franklin ship discovered in the Arctic last September, even as troubling ownership and security issues remained unresolved.
A 14-person team based on the newly refitted vessel R/V David Thompson will take pictures and video of the sunken wreck in Terror Bay, off King William Island, and even send remote cameras into the murky interior of the ship.
The divers may also retrieve artefacts “if deemed necessary because they are threatened,” says an official plan for the two-to-four weeks of exploration, beginning sometime after Aug. 1.
The underwater inspection of HMS Terror, and its sunken sister ship HMS Erebus discovered in 2014, is being arranged at the same time as ownership, control and even protection of the iconic 19th-century ships are stuck in limbo.
Under a 1997 memorandum of understanding, Canada acknowledged Britain owns the wrecks, given that the Royal Navy mounted the 1845 expedition to find a northwest passage under Sir John Franklin. All crewmembers died after the two ships were beset by ice, though their exact fate has remained a mystery.
Both countries also agreed Britain would transfer ownership to Canada once the wrecks were found, but after more than a year of formal negotiations in Portsmouth, England, there’s still no transfer deal.
‘We would consult and seek permission from the Government of Nunavut.’
– Parks Canada spokeswoman
Meanwhile, most of the artefacts Parks Canada retrieved from HMS Erebus and restored, at a cost to taxpayers of millions of dollars, have been sent to Greenwich, England, for their first major exhibition, opening July 14 until Jan. 7, 2018. Canadians will have to wait until March next year to see them here.
Inuit groups, meanwhile, also claim ownership of the wrecks and…