'Lost Beneath the Ice': Book sheds new light on HMS Investigator
A new book detailing the incredible discovery of a British ship that sunk in Canada's Arctic waters more than 160 years ago is shedding new light on what happened on the ill-fated vessel.
"Lost Beneath the Ice: The Story of the HMS Investigator," looks at the history of the 122-ton ship and what happened after it was dispatched from Britain in January 1850 on a mission to rescue an earlier expedition led by Sir John Franklin.
Discovered by Parks Canada archeologists in Mercy Bay in 2010, the HMS Investigator became stuck in the ice during its expedition and was abandoned in April 1853. Nonetheless, the crew – who spent two years aboard the trapped navy vessel, living off very little food and facing bone-chilling temperatures – is credited with discovering the Northwest Passage.
"The Investigator had been in the Arctic for three winters, and after two winters you start to see degradation of the conditions," Marc-Andre Bernier, Parks Canada's chief of underwater archaeology told CTV's Canada AM on Monday.
"Scurvy was setting in, they had lost a few men and they were just about to abandon the ships and walk south, just like the Franklin crew had done years earlier."
But miraculously, the HMS Investigator’s crew was rescued by another British ship, the HMS Resolute. Ultimately, five of the ship’s 66 members died.
"Just as they were burying some of their dead, they were rescued miraculously," Bernier said. "They spent yet another winter in the Arctic, a fourth one, and they eventually left for England, five years after they had (first set out)."
Bernier, who was part of a diving expedition in 2011, said his team has recovered and documented many artifacts belonging to the sunken ship, including parts from the hull and shoes belonging to crew.
"It's a link with the men that were on board (the ship)."
He said the ship was in "excellent shape" when it was discovered.
"These ships were built for the ice so they sustained the pressure over the years. The cold water is very good for preservation."