Great maritime mystery may be solved

By Katia Hetter, CNN

updated 9:05 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on Tuesday, September 9, that one of two missing British explorer ships had been found. They disappeared in the Arctic in 1846, and it's not clear which ship has been found. This side-scan sonar image of a ship on the sea floor in northern Canada was released by Parks Canada.Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on Tuesday, September 9, that one of two missing British explorer ships had been found. They disappeared in the Arctic in 1846, and it’s not clear which ship has been found. This side-scan sonar image of a ship on the sea floor in northern Canada was released by Parks Canada.

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The mystery of the missing ship

Missing Arctic ship found

Missing Arctic ship found

Missing Arctic ship found

Missing Arctic ship found

Missing Arctic ship found

Missing Arctic ship found

Missing Arctic ship found

Missing Arctic ship found

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • British sailor John Franklin hoped to sail the Northwest Passage in the 1840s
  • Franklin and his crew perished in the Canadian Arctic
  • The Canadian government said one of the two missing ships has been found

(CNN) — One of the most famous tragedies of the Northwest Passage sea route around the top of North America might have finally been solved.

British sailor John Franklin left England with two ships in 1845 in an ill-fated attempt to sail the Northwest Passage. Stuck in the ice of the Canadian Arctic, all 129 crew members perished in 1846.

Modern explorers have succeeded where Franklin failed, but Canadians never stopped hoping they would find the lost ships of the Franklin Expedition.

On Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that one of the two ships was found.

Northwest Passage Northwest Passage

Northwest PassageNorthwest Passage

“I am delighted to announce that this year’s Victoria Strait Expedition has solved one of Canada’s greatest mysteries, with the discovery of one of the two ships belonging to the Franklin Expedition lost in 1846,” he said in a statement.

Whether the vessel is Her Majesty’s Ship (HMS) Erebus or HMS Terror isn’t yet clear, Harper said. “We do have enough information to confirm its authenticity.”

The finding was confirmed on Sunday, September 7, using a Parks Canada remotely-operated underwater vehicle.

“This is truly a historic moment for Canada,” he said. “Franklin’s ships are an important part of Canadian history given that his expeditions, which took place nearly 200 years ago, laid the foundations of Canada’s Arctic sovereignty.”

Since 2008, there have been six major Parks Canada-led searches for the lost Franklin Expedition ships, Harper said.

The race to sail the Northwest Passage heats up

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