The first I knew of Lord Franklin was when I heard an old song sung by John Renbourn which told his sad story.
In 1845 Franklin sailed to ‘find a passage around the pole ‘ – the so called ‘North-West passage’ to the North of Canada, emerging through the Bering Straits into the Pacific.
But Franklin, along with his two well-stocked ships and 129 men disappeared, and no trace of them was found despite searches in subsequent years.
Recent research has established that his ships became frozen in ice and with his sailors he over-wintered on the ice. And then they slowly perished from cold and hunger.
And now, after all these years, Parks Canada have discovered one of his ships underwater in a state of near perfect preservation.
And they have released a haunting underwater video.
This part of the arctic is still inhospitable in winter, but the winter sea ice is not as thick or extensive as it was in Franklin’s day.
And in summer, it is now possible to take a cruise through the ‘legendary’ North West Passage.
And the sea ice is diminishing in extent and volume year by year. This year the summer melt of Arctic Sea (Charts here) ice is nearly over and the trend is continuing.
So Franklin should have waited. And if his successor were to sail in 2045 rather than 1845, then they would likely find the North West passage to be more mercenary than ‘legendary’.