World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

HMS Erebus (1826)

One of the ships of Sir John Franklin's last expedition
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Erebus
Builder: Pembroke dockyard, Wales
Launched: 1826
Fate: Abandoned in Victoria Strait, Canada, 22 April 1848[1]
General characteristics
Class & type: Hecla class bomb vessel
Displacement: 715.3 long tons (726.8 t)[2]
Tons burthen: 372 tons (bm)
Length: 105 ft (32 m)
Beam: 29 ft (8.8 m)
Installed power: 30 nhp [3]
Complement: 67
Armament: 1 × 13 in (330 mm) mortar, 1 × 10 in (250 mm) mortar, 8 × 24 pdr (11 kg) guns, 2 × 6 pdr (2.7 kg) guns
Official name Erebus and Terror National Historic Site of Canada
Designated 1992

HMS Erebus was a Hecla-class bomb vessel designed by Sir Henry Peake and constructed by the Royal Navy in Pembroke dockyard, Wales in 1826. The vessel was named after the dark region in Hades of Greek mythology called Erebus. The 372-ton ship was armed with two mortars – one 13 in (330 mm) and one 10 in (250 mm) – and 10 guns. The ship was abandoned during the Franklin Expedition in 1848 and rediscovered in a submerged state in September 2014 after a long search.


  • Ross expedition 1
  • Franklin expedition 2
  • In fiction 3
    • In literature 3.1
    • In television, radio, and film 3.2
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Ross expedition

After two years service in the Mediterranean Sea, the Erebus was refitted as an exploration vessel for Antarctic service, and on 21 November 1840 – captained by James Clark Ross – she departed from Tasmania for Antarctica in company with the Terror. In January 1841, the crew of both ships landed on Victoria Land, and proceeded to name areas of the landscape after British politicians, scientists, and acquaintances. Mount Erebus, on Ross Island, was named after one ship and Mount Terror after the other.

They then discovered the Richard Bowdler Sharpe in The Zoology of the Voyage of HMS Erebus & HMS Terror. Birds of New Zealand, 1875. The revised edition of Gray (1846) (1875). The future renowned botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker, then aged 23, was assistant-surgeon to Robert McCormick.[4]

'Erebus' and the 'Terror' in New Zealand, August 1841, by John Wilson Carmichael.

Franklin expedition

For their next voyage, to the Arctic under Sir John Franklin, both the Erebus and Terror were outfitted with steam engines from the London and Greenwich Railway steam locomotives. That of the Erebus was rated at 25 horsepower (19 kW) and could propel the ship at 4 knots (7.4 km/h). The ships carried 12 days' supply of coal.[5] The ships had iron plating added to their hulls. Sir John Franklin sailed in the Erebus, in overall command of the expedition, and the Terror was again commanded by Francis Crozier. The expedition was ordered to gather magnetic data in the Canadian Arctic and to complete a crossing of the Northwest Passage, which had already been charted from both the east and west but had never been entirely navigated.

The ships were last seen entering Baffin Bay in August 1845. The disappearance of the Franklin expedition set off a massive search effort in the Arctic. The broad circumstances of the expedition's fate were first revealed when Hudson's Bay Company doctor John Rae collected artifacts and testimony from local Inuit in 1853. Later expeditions up to 1866 confirmed these reports.

Both ships had become icebound and had been abandoned by their crews, totaling about 130 men, all of whom subsequently died from a variety of causes, including hypothermia, scurvy, and starvation while trying to trek overland to the south. Subsequent expeditions until the late 1980s, including autopsies of crew members, also revealed that their shoddily canned rations may have been tainted by both lead and botulism. Oral reports by local Inuit that some of the crew members resorted to cannibalism were at least somewhat supported by forensic evidence of cut marks on the skeletal remains of crew members found on King William Island during the late 20th century.[6]

A British transport ship, the Renovation, spotted two ships on a large ice floe off the coast of Newfoundland in April 1851. The identities of the ships were not confirmed. It was suggested over the years that these might have been the Erebus and Terror, though it is now certain they could not have been, and were most likely abandoned whaling ships.[7]

On 15 August 2008, Parks Canada, an agency of the Government of Canada announced a CDN$75,000 six-week search, deploying the icebreaker CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier with the goal of finding the ships and also to reinforce Canada's claims regarding sovereignty over large portions of the Arctic.[8]

Side-scan sonar images of the wreck of HMS Erebus.
PM Stephen Harper appearing at a gala to celebrate the discovery of HMS Erebus, one of two ships wrecked during John Franklin's lost expedition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto

The wreckage of one of Franklin's ships was found on 2 September 2014 by a Parks Canada team led by Ryan Harris and Marc-André Bernier [9] On 1 October 2014 the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated that the remains were that of Erebus.[10] The recovery of the ship's bell was announced on 6 November 2014.[11]

On 4 March 2015 a winter diving expedition on the Erebus, consisting of Parks Canada and Royal Canadian Navy divers, was announced to commence in April.[12]

The wrecks are designated a National Historic Site of Canada with the precise location of the designation in abeyance.[13][14][15]

In fiction

The Erebus and Terror are mentioned in numerous fictional works.

In literature

  • Captain Nemo mentions the Erebus and Terror, in the context of Captain Ross' expedition, in Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), as background to establish the difficulty of reaching the South Pole, while Captain Nemo stands upon its fictional summit.[16]
  • The Erebus and Terror are mentioned in Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness (1899).
  • Ice Blink: The Tragic Fate of Sir John Franklin's Lost Polar Expedition (2001), by Scott Cookman, offers a journalistic account of Franklin's expedition that is up-to-date, factual and scholarly, and seeks to shed new light on this century-and-a-half-old mystery.
  • The Erebus and Terror appear in Dan Simmons' novel, The Terror (2007) which is a fictional account of the expedition's fate.
  • Clive Cussler's novel, Arctic Drift (2008), uses the Erebus and Terror as part of the plot as well as the establishing backstory of the ill-fated expedition.

In television, radio, and film

  • In the Doctor Who Audio Dramas story Terror of the Arctic, the Erebus appears alongside her sister ship, Terror.

See also


  1. ^ Fleming, Fergus (1998). Barrow's Boys. New York: Grove Press. p. 415.  
  2. ^ Bourne, John (1852). "Appendix, Table I: Dimensions Of Screw Steam Vessels In Her Majesty's Navy". A treatise on the screw propeller: with various suggestions of improvement. London:  
  3. ^ Murray, Robert (1852). Rudimentary treatise on marine engines and steam vessels. J. Weale. Retrieved 2013-08-30. 
  4. ^  
  5. ^ Gow, Harry (2015-02-12). "British loco boiler at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean". Heritage Railway (Horncastle: Mortons Media Group Ltd) (No.199): 84.  
  6. ^ Keenleyside, Anne; Bertulli, Margaret & Fricke, Henry C. (March 1997). "The final days of the Franklin Expedition: new skeletal evidence" (PDF). Arctic 50 (1): 36–46.  
  7. ^ "Arctic Blue Books -British Parliamentary Papers Abstract, 1852k.". University of Manitoba Libraries - Archives and Special Collections. 1852. 
  8. ^ Boswell, Randy (2008-01-30). "Parks Canada to lead new search for Franklin ships".  
  9. ^ Watson, Paul (2014-09-09). "How the Franklin Wreck was Finally Found". 
  10. ^ "Franklin expedition ship found in Arctic ID'd as HMS Erebus".  
  11. ^ "HMS Erebus ship's bell recovered from Franklin expedition".  
  12. ^ Watson, Paul (2015-03-04). "Navy divers, marine archeologists will study Franklin’s ship in winter mission".  
  13. ^ Erebus and Terror. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
  14. ^ "National Historic Sites of Canada System Plan".  
  15. ^ "National Historic Sites of Canada System Plan map".  
  16. ^  

External links

  • Erebus and Terror
  • The Wreck Of HMS Erebus: How A Landmark Discovery Triggered A Fight For Canada’s History
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.