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Britain offers famed Arctic shipwrecks to Canada

Danica Kirka
Associated Press

London — Britain announced Monday it will give Canada the shipwrecks of British explorer John Franklin, who perished with his crew while trying to chart the Northwest Passage through the Arctic in the 1840s.

The HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror were found in 2014 and 2016 about 30 miles apart near King William Island in the Canadian Arctic, some 1,200 miles northwest of Toronto.

Under an agreement between the two countries, the wrecks were the property of Britain although Canada had custody and control of them. The U.K. Ministry of Defense said Monday it would transfer ownership to Parks Canada, but retain a small sample of artifacts.

Franklin and 128 hand-picked men set out in 1845 to find the passage — a shortcut to Asia that supposedly ran from the Atlantic to the Pacific by way of the Arctic. All of them died, making the voyage the worst tragedy in the history of Arctic exploration.