Ghost Ships of the Arctic: The discoveries and exploration of Sir John Franklin’s HMS Erebus and HMS Terror


This presentation will showcase the search efforts lead by Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Team following the discovery of the wrecks Sir John Franklin's ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror.

Start Date

11th Oct 2017 6:00pm

End Date

11th Oct 2017 7:30pm


Stanley Burbury Theatre, University Centre, Sandy Bay campus

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presented by

Marc-Andre Bernier

Marc-André Bernier

Head of Underwater Archaeology, Parks Canada

In 1845, Sir John Franklin and his men sailed from England on HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, hopeful to find the final link of the Northwest Passage. Both ships were abandoned in 1848, and it was believed that the crews walked to their deaths across the Arctic. In the decades that followed, search expeditions brought back relics, some written documents and numerous accounts from the Inuit giving some information on the grim fate of the Franklin Expedition crews. However, the recent discoveries of HMS Erebus in 2014 and of HMS Terror in 2016 re-open the interpretation of what happened to Franklin’s men as they tried to escape the Arctic. Both wrecks are extremely well-preserved in the cold waters of the Canadian Arctic, rising from the sea floor up to the upper-deck.

This presentation will showcase the search efforts lead by Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Team and some of the findings following more than 250 hours of diving on the wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror in one of Canada’s most challenging environments.

About Marc-André Bernier

Marc-André Bernier is the Head of Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology team for which he has worked since 1990. With this organization, he has worked all over Canada in numerous National Parks, Marine Conservation Areas and National Historic Sites and has directed many notable projects including the excavation of the shipwreck of the Elizabeth and Mary, part of Sir William Phips’ fleet that besieged Quebec City in 1690, and the archaeological survey that led to the discovery of a World War II American plane in the St. Lawrence River. He was board Member of the Advisory Council for Underwater Archaeology of which he is the former Chair and a member of the International Committee on the Underwater Cultural Heritage. He has also participated in underwater archaeology projects in France, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Columbia and the United States. More recently, the Underwater Archaeology team that he manages led the search for the missing ships from Sir John Franklin’s 1845 Expedition. He was of one the first archaeologists to dive on both HMS Erebus and HMS Terror after their discovery in the Canadian Arctic in 2014 and 2016 respectively.

Presented in partnership with the
Canadian High Commission,  
The Royal Society of Tasmania and the
Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery.

The Royal Society of Tasmania TMAG

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