Jonathan Moore is a senior underwater archaeologist with Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Team based in Ottawa. He grew up in Kingston, Ontario where he attended Queen’s University.

He later obtained a Master’s degree in Maritime Studies from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. Jonathan, who has been diving for over twenty-five years, was a member of the Parks Canada-led team that spent six field seasons between 2008-2014 searching in the Arctic for the wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror.

He was part of the team that discovered and dived on HMS Erebus in September of 2014. Jonathan has spoken to NDA’s Shipwrecks in the past about the wrecks of the Hamilton and Scourge as well as the discovery of HMS Investigator.

The Discovery of HMS Erebus

Side-scan sonar image of the wreck of HMS Erebus(Image: Parks Canada).

Sir John Franklin set out on his third and final Arctic expedition on May 19, 1845 with two Royal Navy ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. Franklin had orders to take his ships through the Northwest Passage from Atlantic to Pacific, an accomplishment that had eluded mariners for hundreds of years.

Parks Canada Underwater Archaeology Team members shortly after the discovery of HMS Erebus (left to right): Jonathan Moore, Ryan Harris, Joe Boucher and Chriss Ludin (Photo: Jonathan Moore, Parks Canada).

With three-years’ worth of provisions, state-of-the-art ships equipped with auxiliary steam engines, and officers and men seasoned by previous polar voyages, hopes were high that Franklin would succeed. Just over a year into his expedition, however, the ships were irrevocably trapped in ice near King William Island; two years in Franklin was dead; and almost three years in the ships were deserted by surviving crew members, who retreated overland to the south. In the end all of Franklin’s men perished.

Parks Canada Underwater Archaeology Team member Filippo Ronca next to the ship’s bell of HMS Erebus on the upper deck (Photo: Thierry Boyer, Parks Canada).

For almost 170 years searchers have looked for the two missing ships. In September 2014 a multi-partner, public-private team led by Parks Canada found the wreck of HMS Erebus in eastern Queen Maud Gulf using side-scan sonar from the Parks Canada research and diving boat Investigator. Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Team next completed a remotely operated vehicle dive on the wreck and later, two days of diving on this remarkable shipwreck. Jonathan will describe the Franklin Expedition, summarize the shipwreck discovery, and outline the archaeological exploration of the wreck of HMS Erebus.

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