Ownership of the two ships, Adm. Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, two of the most archaeologically important wrecks in the world, was formally transferred to the Canadian government with the signing of a Deed of Gift at a ceremony last month with the Inuit of Nunavut, who played a key role in their discovery, recognised as joint owners of the wrecks and artifacts.
After a local Canadian Forces Ranger pointed out where Franklin’s lost Arctic survey ship HMS Terror was in 2016, a group of 17 Inuit was enlisted by Parks Canada last year to camp out in rotating four-person shifts to protect the historic site and that of Franklin’s other ship, HMS Erebus, which was discovered in much the same way in 2014.
The two ships, under the command of Sir John, set sail from England in 1845 through the Canadian Arctic to find the Northwest Passage. During the treacherous journey, the ships became trapped in thick sea ice. The crews abandoned the ships to trek overland to safety, but tragically none survived.
“The story behind these vessels is both fascinating and incredibly important to the history of both our nations. The UK joined forces with the Canadian government and Inuit population to search for these ships for 172 years and I’m delighted they will now be protected for future generations,” said UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.
Artifacts from the wrecks will be available for display at museums in both countries. Currently, there are examples on display at the Canadian Museum of History as part of the “Death in the Ice” exhibit.
The Expedition’s timeline, from the Canadian Museum:
May 19, 1845: The Franklin Expedition departed from Greenhithe, near London, England.
July 4, 1845: The ships arrived at the Whale Fish Islands, Greenland, after a stormy Atlantic crossing.
July 12, 1845: Officers and crewmembers mailed their last letters home.
July 29 or 31, 1845: HMS Erebus and Terror were sighted in Baffin Bay by whaling ships. This was the last time the ships and their crews were seen by Europeans.
Winter 1845 to 1846: The expedition spent its first winter in the Arctic off Beechey Island. Three members of the crew died and were buried on Beechey Island.
Summer 1846: The expedition headed south into Peel Sound.
September 1846 to Spring 1848: The ships were beset — surrounded and stuck in ice — northwest of King William Island.
June 11, 1847: Sir John Franklin died. He was 61 years old and had served in the Royal Navy for 47 years.
April 22, 1848: The expedition had been stuck off King William Island for over a year and a half. Fearing they would never escape, the men deserted the ships.
April 25, 1848: The men landed on King William Island. Nine officers and 15 seamen had already died. There were 105 survivors. Officers left a note stating their plan to trek to the Back River.
January 20, 1854: Franklin’s Expedition is missing for more than eight years. The Admiralty announced that its officers and men will be declared dead as of March 31, 1854.
1847–1880: More than 30 expeditions sailed, steamed or sledged into the Arctic from the east, west, and south. Very few found any trace of the expedition.
2008: A renewed search for Franklin’s ships began under the leadership of Parks Canada.
September 1, 2014: An important clue is found on an island in Wilmot and Crampton Bay: an iron davit pintle (fitting). Parks Canada refocuses its efforts near that island.
September 2, 2014: 167 years after the British Admiralty’s search began, the first wreck, HMS Erebus, is found.
2016: Almost two years to the day after the discovery of Erebus, Terror is located in Terror Bay, off the southern coast of King William Island.
Delivery of the remains of Sottocapo Silurista (Chief Torpedoman) Carlo Acefalo, late of the Royal Italian Navy submarine Macalle, to Italian Ambassador Fabrizio Lobasso for their repatriation to Italy after 78 years in the Sudanese desert.
The event occurred at Port Sudan, 18 April 2018.
Acefalo, 24, died of food poisoning after the 600-Serie Adua-class submarine was scuttled in WWII and the crew forced to escape and evade the British along the coast of the Red Sea. Italy has sought the return of the remains for years and the lost submariner is the subject of a documentary in that country.
Macalle was one of four Italian submarines lost in action in the Red Sea during WWII.
Here we see the British three-master barquentine-rig schooner Mildred (207 tons, 116 ft wl) constructed in 1889 by Charles Rawle, shipbuilder at Padstow. As you can see, she is hard aground and swamped at Gurnard’s Head, Cornwall.
“The Mildred, Newport for London with basic slag, struck under Gurnards Head at midnight on the 6th April 1912, whilst in dense fog. She swung broadside and was pounding heavily when Captain Larcombe, the mate, two Irishmen, one Welshman and a Mexican from Vera Cruz rowed into St. Ives at 6am. They later returned in a pilot gig but the Mildred was already going to pieces.”
She was one of a number of shipwrecks photographed by the Gibsons of Scilly.
A recovery team aboard U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command’s USNS Salvor (T-ARS 52) completed an excavation, on Feb. 25, of multiple aircraft losses shot down in 1944 near Ngerekebesang Island, Republic of Palau.
Although remains potentially associated with the losses were recovered by the team, the identity of those remains will not be released until a complete and thorough analysis can confirm positive identification and the service casualty office conducts next of kin notification.
The project was headed by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), which deployed an Underwater Recovery Team (URT) comprised of U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force service members and Department of Defense civilians that were embarked aboard the USNS Salvor.
“It’s very labor intensive work and they’ve had a large amount of bottom time making this operation successful,” said Lt. Cmdr. Tim Emge, 7th Fleet Salvage Officer. “The Mobile Diving and Salvage Company 1-6 divers for this job have been pulling more than 12-hour-days for the past two months. The URT spent weeks excavating the area using a variety of archeological tools and meticulously inspecting the bottom sediment in their search and recovery of the missing personnel from World War II.”
On this day in February 1942, the U.S. Navy’s first aircraft carrier USS Langley, then operating as a seaplane carrier (AV-3). was attacked by 16 Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” twin-engine bombers of the Japanese 21st and 23rd Naval Air Flotillas south of Tjilatjap, Java, and was so badly damaged by at least five bombs that she had to be scuttled by her escorts.
The “covered wagon” which operated as the country’s only flattop from 21 April 1920 until USS Lexington was commissioned on 14 December 1927, was the cradle of U.S. Naval aviation. Without her, there would have been no almost 100-years of U.S. carrier dominance.
The painting is the artist’s rendering of the Navy’s first aircraft carrier, the USS LANGLEY (CV-1), conducting flight operations as a ghost ship in the company with one of the Navy’s most modern aircraft carriers, the USS NIMITZ (CVN-68). The painting celebrates the commissioning of the Nimitz 50 years after the first squadron operation off the Langley in 1925. The Nimitz is accompanied by a squadron of A-4M Skyhawks while the Langley is accompanied by a squadron of F6C -2 Curtiss Hawks
Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger
Warship Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018: One of the luckier sugars
Here we see the somber crew of the early “Government-type” S-class diesel-electric submarine USS S-8 (SS-113) — back when the Navy just gave ’em numbers– as she pulls into Boston’s Charlestown Navy Yard some 90-years ago today: 3 January 1928, in the twilight of her career. They are no doubt still reeling from the loss of her close sister, S-4 (SS-109) just two weeks prior, to which the boat stood by to help rescue surviviors without success.
The S-class, or “Sugar” boats, were actually three different variants designed by Simon Lake Co, Electric Boat, and the Bureau of Construction and Repair (BuC&R) in the last days of the Great War in which U.S.-made submarines had a poor record. Looking for a better showing in these new boats, of which 65 were planned, and 51 completed in several subgroups. These small 1,000~ ton diesel-electrics took to the sea in the 1920s and they made up the backbone of the U.S. submarine fleet before the larger “fleet” type boats of the 1930s came online.
The hero of our tale, USS S-8, was 231-feet oal, could dive to 200 feet and travel at a blistering 15-knots on the surface on her twin MAN 8-cylinder 4-stroke direct-drive diesel engines and two Westinghouse electric motors for 11-knots submerged. Armament was a quartet of 21-inch bow tubes with a dozen fish and a 4″/50 cal popgun on deck for those special moments. Crew? Just 38 officers and men.
S-8 was technically a war baby. A BuC&R design Government-type boat, she was laid down 9 November 1918 at Portsmouth Navy Yard, just 48-hours before the Armistice. Commissioned 1 October 1920, she was attached along with several of her sister ships (including the ill-fated Portsmouth-built USS S-4 whose interior is above) to SubDiv 12 and, together with SubDiv18, sailed slowly and in formation from Maine via the Panama Canal to Cavite Naval Station with stops in California and Hawaii.
In all, the journey from Portsmouth to the Philippines took a full year, but according to DANFS, “set a record for American submarines, at that time, as the longest cruise ever undertaken. Other submarines, which had operated on the Asiatic station prior to this, were transported overseas on the decks of colliers.”
S-8 and her sisters formed SubFlot 3, operating in the P.I. and the coast of China while forward deployed for three years, the salad days of her career.
By Christmas 1924, S-8 was at Mare Island, California and was a West Coast boat for a minute before chopping to the Panama Canal for a while.
May 1927 found S-8 and several her SubFlot 3 alumni sisters stationed on the East Coast at the big submarine base in New London.
It was during this time that tragedy occurred off New England.
On 17 December 1927, sister USS S-4, while surfacing from a submerged run over the measured-mile off Provincetown, Cape Cod, Mass., was accidentally rammed and sunk by the U.S. Coast Guard-manned destroyer USS Paulding (DD-22/CG-17), killing all on board. An inquiry later absolved the Coast Guard of blame.
As noted by Naval History.org, “The two ships had no idea the other would be there.”
Per DANFS on the incident:
The only thing to surface, as Paulding stopped and lowered lifeboats, was a small amount of oil and air bubbles. Rescue and salvage operations were commenced, only to be thwarted by severe weather setting in. Gallant efforts were made to rescue six known survivors trapped in the forward torpedo room, who had exchanged a series of signals with divers, by tapping on the hull. However, despite the efforts, the men were lost. S-4 was finally raised on 17 March 1928 and towed to the Boston Navy Yard for drydocking. She was decommissioned on the 19th.
SS-8 went to the aid of her sister, but it was to no avail.
With just a decade of service under their belt, the age of the Sugar boats was rapidly coming to an end as the Depression loomed, and precious Navy Department dollars were spent elsewhere on more modern designs. Three others of the class were lost in peacetime accidents– S-5, S-48, and S-51— while a number were scrapped wholesale in the 1930s.
Departing New London on 22 October 1930, S-8 sailed to Philadelphia where she was decommissioned on 11 April 1931.
She was struck from the Navy list on 25 January 1937 and scrapped.
Though obsolete, several S-boats remained on the Navy List and served the Navy well in both the Atlantic and Pacific (including several lost to accidents) during WWII. A half-dozen were even transferred to the Royal Navy as Lend-Lease including class leader and former submersible aircraft carrier, USS S-1.
None of these hardy, if somewhat unlucky, craft endure though Pigboats.com keeps their memory alive.
Specs: (Government-type S-class boats which included USS S-4-9 & 14-17)
Displacement: 876 tons surfaced; 1,092 tons submerged
Length: 231 feet (70.4 m)
Beam: 21 feet 9 inches (6.6 m)
Draft: 13 feet 4 inches (4.1 m)
Propulsion: 2 × MAN diesels, 1,000 hp (746 kW) each; 2 × Westinghouse electric motors, 600 hp (447 kW) each; 120-cell Exide battery; two shafts.
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h) surfaced; 11 knots (20 km/h) submerged
Bunkerage: 148 tons oil fuel
Range: 5,000 nautical miles (9,000 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h) surfaced
Test depth: 200 ft. (61 m)
Armament (as built): 4 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes (bow, 12 torpedoes)
1 × 4 inch (102 mm)/50 caliber Mark 9 “wet mount” deck gun
Crew: 38 (later 42) officers and men
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