In 1845, Sir John Franklin set out with two Royal Navy ships to hunt for a Northwest Passage through the Arctic ice; neither returned, and all 129 men involved perished pretty horribly. More than a century and a half later, researchers say they’ve found the second of the two ships, known as the HMS Terror. Perhaps the name should have been a clue?
That’s according to the Guardian. Despite years spent searching for traces of the expedition and bodies periodically turning up over the decades (the evidence accumulated suggests a grim end for the crew members, including cannibalism) neither of the ships was rediscovered until 2014, when researchers found the HMS Erebus. (Which, please note, was named after a concept from Greek mythology meaning either a region of the underworld Hades or a cosmic, godlike darkness. At some point you’re just straight-out tempting fate.)
And now a crew from the Arctic Research Foundation—established by Jim Balsillie, one of the Blackberry dudes who cofounded Research in Motion—says they’re pretty sure they’ve found the HMS Terror, on a tip from an Inuit crew member named Sammy Kogvik:
About six years ago, Kogvik said, he and a hunting buddy were headed on snowmobiles to fish in a lake when they spotted a large piece of wood, which looked like a mast, sticking out of the sea ice covering Terror Bay.
In a phone interview, Kogvik said he stopped that day to get a few snapshots of himself hugging the wooden object, only to discover when he got home that the camera had fallen out his pocket.
Sure enough, that’s where they found the Terror. Historians had thought the ship must’ve been abandoned by crew members further to the north and then crushed by ice. But she was found “with her three masts broken but still standing, almost all hatches closed and everything stowed.” Said Adrian Schimnowski:
“This vessel looks like it was buttoned down tight for winter and it sank,” he said. “Everything was shut. Even the windows are still intact. If you could lift this boat out of the water, and pump the water out, it would probably float.”
Yes, that’s just what we need: A frozen ghost ship called the HMS Terror drifting across the thawing Northwest Passage, crewed by skeletons.