"Strengthened for Service in the Arctic Regions": The Wreck of Her Majesty’s Discovery Ship Investigator (1848-1854)

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  • Documents (5)

  • "Doubled with wood in every direction": The Hull Structure and Outfitting of a Royal Navy Ship of Polar Exploration (2013)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ryan Harris. Jonathan Moore.

    The largely intact wreck of HMS Investigator provides a unique opportunity to study the remains of a 19th-century Royal Navy ship of polar exploration. Purchased into the Navy in 1848 while still building on the stocks as a merchant vessel, Investigator was comprehensively modified for Arctic Service at Blackwall under the supervision of William Rice, Master Shipwright at Woolwich Dockyard. These modifications focussed mainly on reinforcing the hull to better withstand the destructive forces...

  • "Entering this bay was the fatal error of our voyage": The Abandonment, Loss, and Discovery of HMS Investigator in Mercy Bay, Canada (2013)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ryan Harris.

    Penetrating into the Western Arctic in 1850, HMS Investigator and its crew enjoyed initial success -- the charting of Prince of Wales Strait heralded at the time as the long-awaited discovery of the elusive Northwest Passage. A year later, however, the fortunes of the expedition would take a downward turn when Investigator was navigated into the confines of Mercy Bay and the regrettable decision was made to overwinter. The arrival of freeze-up would seal the fate of the ship, as it would remain...

  • "Everything left in perfect order": HMS Investigator’s Material Culture (2013)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Marc-André Bernier. Ryan Harris.

    Prior to the Investigator’s abandonment in June 1853 much of its provisions, stores, and the ship’s boats were cached ashore. Shortly thereafter the crew loaded sledges with gear and rations for an eastward journey to other Royal Navy ships. Additional items were landed in May 1854 when the ship was revisited. Otherwise everything that had been on the ship was sealed-up under the hatches. During the 2011 survey a host of artefacts were found exposed on and around the ship’s hull, ice having...

  • "Hanging in shreds": HMS Investigator’s Copper Hull Sheathing (2013)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jonathan Moore.

    The wreck of HMS Investigator presents a remarkably well-preserved example of copper-sheathing applied to a Royal Navy ship. It is particularly interesting given that most Royal Navy ships engaged in the search for a Northwest Passage, and without exception those entering the Arctic via Hudson Strait and Davis Strait, were fitted with bottom felt and doubled planking but were unsheathed. The planned voyage of the Investigator and HMS Enterprise into the Arctic via tropical waters and the Bering...

  • Three-Dimensional Structural Recording of HMS Investigator at 74° North (2013)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jonathan Moore. Ryan Harris. George Bevan. Michael Fergusson.

    Given the excellent state of preservation of the Investigator, three-dimensional hull recording was a key aim of the 2011 survey. At the outset this posed significant logistical and archaeological challenges on account of the site’s remoteness and uncertainty over how much diving time would be achievable (if at all) due to ice cover. The project team travelled to the far north prepared for a range of methods from standard hand mapping to a novel underwater three-dimensional laser scanner. This...