Ancient shipwreck left frozen in time after nearly 200 years

A team of archaeologists have discovered an ancient shipwreck which has been left "frozen in time" after nearly 200 years.

Divers captured video footage of the wreck during seven dives.

The ship is said to have left England nearly 200 years ago and was discovered in 2016.

Sir John Franklin led a British voyage which was searching the Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic.

At the time the crews left onboard two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror.

But they became trapped by ice near King William Island now in the Canadian territory of Nunavut.

The ships remained icebound for more than a year but by this point, Franklin and 23 others perished.

Lead archaeologist Ryan Harris told National Geographic it was like the ship had been frozen in time.

He said: "The impression we witnessed when exploring… is of a ship only recently deserted by its crew, seemingly forgotten by the passage of time.

“The ship is amazingly intact. You look at it and find it hard to believe this is a 170-year-old shipwreck.

“You just don’t see this kind of thing very often.”

Divers ventured inside the vessel's interior using remotely operate vehicles (ROVs).

The archaeologists couldn't believe their eyes as they explored.

Mr Harris said: “We were able to explore 20 cabins and compartments, going from room to room.

“The doors were all eerily wide open.”

In pictures, dinner plates can be seen still on shelves, beds and desks still in order.

He continued: “Those blankets of sediment, together with the cold water and darkness, create a near perfect anaerobic environment that’s ideal for preserving delicate organics such as textiles or paper.

“There is a very high probability of finding some clothing or documents, some of them possibly even still legible.”

The diving team managed to secure photos of more than 90% of the ships lower deck including the living quarters.

In the captains cabin, closed map cabinets, tripods, thermometers were all found among the belonging.

The only part of the wreckage which was not able to be explored was the captains sleeping quarters due to the door being closed.

How the ship sank is still a mystery to Mr Harris and his team.

He added: "There’s no obvious reason for Terror to have sunk.

"It wasn’t crushed by ice, and there’s no breach in the hull.

“Yet it appears to have sunk swiftly and suddenly and settled gently to the bottom. What happened?”

It is believed the crew on the ship at the time tried to avoid an ice death by trying to swim.

However, bones were found at Erebus Bay on King William Island which were analysed and found to belong to Warrant Officer John Gregory an engineer on the Erebus.

They died in 1848.

The evacuation process will be slow due to the cold waters but Mr Harris is sure they will uncover the mystery of the wreckage.

He said: “One way or another, I feel confident we’ll get to the bottom of the story.”

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