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Ship found in Arctic after 162 years

A British ship abandoned in the Arctic in 1848 while on a rescue mission has been found intact in Canada.

world Updated: Jul 29, 2010 11:44 IST

A British ship abandoned in the Arctic in 1848 while on a rescue mission has been found intact in Canada.

Canadian archaeologists found the HMS Investigator under about 25 feet of pristine, icy water in Mercy Bay using sonar and metal detectors, the BBC reported.

The HMS Investigator, captained by Robert McClure, left Britain in 1848 to find a team led by Sir John Franklin who reportedly perished in the frozen Arctic while trying to find the Northwest Passage.

The Northwest Passage is a sea route through the Arctic Ocean, along the northern coast of North America, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. McClure is credited as the first European to discover the western entrance to the Northwest Passage.

The crew of the Investigator abandoned the ship in the Canadian Arctic when it became trapped in ice. Running low on supplies and food, McClure and his men were eventually rescued by the Royal Navy.

"It's an incredible sight. You're looking at what people have not seen in 156 years, which is a remarkably intact British sailing vessel," Canadian Minister of Environment Jim Prentice was quoted as saying.

"You could make out all the planking on the deck, the details on the hull, all of the detail of the timber," he said. "It's sitting perfectly upright on the floor of the ocean."

The Canadian researchers also found three graves of British sailors.

Parks Canada, a government agency, will study the ship's artefacts but will not remove them, he said.