150-Year-Old Lost Ship Found in Arctic

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Members of the Arctic expedition led by British explorer Sir John Franklin (1786 - 1847) are depicted in this painting during their attempt to discover the Northwest Passage.

THE GIST

- Archaeologists have found the HMS Investigator, a ship that was abandoned more than 150 years ago.

- The ship sailed in search of the doomed expedition of Sir John Franklin.

- The Investigator inadvertently sailed into the strait that was the final leg of the Northwest Passage.

Canadian archeologists have found a ship abandoned more than 150 years ago in the quest for the fabled Northwest Passage and which was lost in the search for the doomed expedition of Sir John Franklin, the head of the team said Wednesday.

Marc-Andre Bernier, Parks Canada's head of underwater archaeology, said the HMS Investigator, abandoned in the ice in 1853, was found in shallow water in Mercy Bay along the northern coast of Banks Island in Canada's western Arctic.

"The ship is standing upright in very good condition. It's standing in about 11 meters (36 feet) of water," he said. "This is definitely of the utmost importance. This is the ship that sailed the last leg of the Northwest Passage."

The Investigator was one of many American and British ships sent out to search for the HMS Erebus and the Terror, vessels commanded by Franklin in his ill-fated search for the Northwest Passage in 1845.

Environment Minister Jim Prentice said the British government has been notified that one of their naval shipwrecks has been discovered, as well as the bodies of three sailors.

Captained by Robert McClure, the Investigator sailed in 1850. That year, McClure sailed the Investigator into the strait that now bears his name and realized that he was in the final leg of the Northwest Passage, the sea route across North America.