HMS Terror Found!

HMS Terror Found! - Topsham Museum

Added: 13 September 2016

HMS Terror, the long-lost ship of polar explorer Sir John Franklin, built in a Topsham boat yard, has been found in a very well-preserved state, in Terror Bay, off King William Island, just two years and one day after her sister ship Erebus was found in Queen Maud Gulf.  The current search had been extended to 60 miles south of where she was expected to have sunk, after some information from an Inuit member of the search teams crew.

HMS Terror was built in Topsham in 1813 by Robert Davy, as a bomb ship, designed to carry two large mortars for bombardment.  Subsequently Terror was refitted for polar service, and, with HMS Erebus was one of two ships in Sir John Franklin’s doomed attempt to find the North West Passage. Both ships disappeared, along with all their crew, in 1848.  In 2014 hopes in Topsham were dashed, when the remains of a ship found nearby were concluded to be those of her sister-ship HMS Erebus.

The ship appears to be good condition, sitting upright on the bottom, about 24m below the surface and contains much of the original equipment and furnishings – its heavy construction, which once enabled it to survive several months in the grip of the ice – has enabled it to  survive 168 years underwater. Glass panes are still in the windows of the stern cabin, suggesting that it was operationally closed down by the remaining crew, before boarding HMS Erebus.

Although the new find was made on 3rd September,  the team of Canadian underwater archaeologists had to check the details against archives of the ship’s plans, before announcing their conclusions to the world on 13th.  Parks Canada archaeologists have yet to confirm the find.  The news has been welcomed by Topsham Museum, which proudly displays information and a highly detailed model of the ship in its Sail Loft..

The model and information about the ship and her history is on display at Topsham museum, which is open 2 until 5pm on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday until the end of October.    This is such an exciting find!