The Northwest Passage (NWP)

The Northwest Passage is the maritime space in northern Canada that theoretically transits through the Arctic islands of northern Canada between Davis Strait and Baffin Bay in the east, separating Greenland and Canada, and the Arctic Ocean, where the Bering Strait provides access to the Pacific.
Sent by Henry VII of England, John Cabot in 1497 is the first to make the hypothesis of a passage to the East by this way. On board Matthew, he sailed across Newfoundland and explored the coast. From 1576 to 1578, Martin Frobisher undertook three voyages to the Canadian Arctic to find the passage. In 1576, he discovered Frobisher Bay, an arm of the Labrador Sea about 230 kilometres long, located southeast of Baffin Island.
On August 8, 1585, English explorer John Davis entered Cumberland Sound (Baffin Island). On three voyages between 1535 and 1542, Jacques Cartier explored the Gulf of St Lawrence and sailed up the St Lawrence River. However, he sailed south of the Labrador Peninsula.
After a first attempt in 1607 by the east of Greenland, Henry Hudson left to explore the North American east coast, and went up the river, which now bears his name. With new financing, he left in 1610 but the crew of the Discovery mutinied and abandoned him in a rowboat.
The first Kamchatka expedition led by Vitus Bering, a Danish officer serving the Russian Imperial Navy, skirts the peninsula but does not see the American continent. In 1741 with the Saint Peter, Bering de Petropavlovsk led his expedition to North America; he mapped the Alaska region before his ship sank off the Kamchatka. Under the command of Alexey Chinikov, the second ship, Saint Paul discovers the coasts of northwestern America (the Alexander archipelago of today Alaska).
In 1818, the second secretary of the Admiralty, John Barrow, sent an expedition led by John Ross. He enters Lancaster Sound but Ross believes there is no way out, takes clouds for a mountain range (“Crocker Mounts”) and returns to London. In 1818, on his first Arctic voyage in search of the Northwest Passage, he visited the northwest coast of Greenland.
John Franklin participated in the HMS Investigator expedition, led by Captain Matthew Flinders to make a detailed map of Australia. Back in Europe, he served aboard HMS Bellerophon during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Between 1819 and 1822 John Franklin led a land expedition on the banks of the Coppermine River. In 1829-1833, on a second Arctic expedition, John Ross and his nephew James Clark Ross reached the Magnetic North Pole on June 1, 1831.
With his experience in polar missions, navigation through the pack and his knowledge of magnetism, Ross was chosen to fulfill the last wish of John Barrow, second secretary of the Admiralty: Between 1839 and 1843, he commanded scientific exploration with the ships HMS Erebus (370 tons) and HMS Terror (340 tons) in the extreme latitudes of the South of the Earth. Both ships are old bomb vessels rigged in three-masted boats and with reinforced hull.
In 1845 the two ships Erebus and Terror were chosen by John Franklin to lead a new expedition to the Canadian Arctic to map the still unknown parts of the Northwest Passage. The crew had to overwinter on the pack ice aboard their ships and subsequently tried to survive on King William Island. Many men perished, including Franklin, and the rest of the crew died trying to return to Canadian territory. In the absence of news, several research companies will be conducted, under the leadership of Lady Franklin.
The Northwest Passage was not crossed by sea until 1906, when Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen completed a three-year journey with the fishing vessel Gjøa. At the end of his journey, he sends a telegram from the town of Eagle in Alaska. Gjøa is a fishing vessel of 21 m long and 48 tons, rigged in sloop, built in 1872. The crew is limited to 6.
Between 1940 and 1942, a motorized schooner, St Roch made the first complete crossing from west, followed by a crossing from east to west (round trip). For the first crossing of the Northwest Passage, Larsen followed the road to Amundsen. For the return trip, Larsen explored a much more northern route. On 29 May 1950, St Roch was the first ship to tour North America, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Vancouver via the Panama Canal, before becoming a museum ship in 1954.
1-Erebus winters (1845-46) off Beechey Island
Erebus seized by ices off King William Island (1846-1848)
2-Discovery of the wreck of Terror in 2016
3-Discovery of the wreck of Erebus in 2014
Information on map from the book of Michael Palin "Erebus: The Story of a Ship"



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