HMS Terror (1813)

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HMS Terror in the Arctic
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Terror
Ordered: 30 March 1812
Builder: Robert Davy, Topsham, Devon
Laid down: September 1812
Launched: 19 June 1813
Completed: By 31 July 1813
Fate: Abandoned in Victoria Strait, Canada, 22 April 1848
General characteristics
Class & type: Vesuvius-class bomb vessel
Tonnage: 325 tons BM
Length: 102 ft (31 m)
Beam: 27 ft (8.2 m)
Installed power: 30 nhp [1]
Complement: 67
Armament: 1 × 13 in (330 mm) mortar, 1 × 10 in (250 mm) mortar
Official name Erebus and Terror National Historic Site of Canada
Designated 1992

HMS Terror was a bomb vessel designed by Sir Henry Peake and constructed by the Royal Navy by Robert Davy, Topsham, Devon. The ship, variously listed as being of either 326 or 340 tons, carried two mortars, one 13 in (330 mm) and one 10 in (250 mm). Terror participated in several battles of the War of 1812 and saw service in the Mediterranean Sea in the 1820s. After being withdrawn from service as a bomb vessel, Terror took part in several voyages of exploration, including George Back's Arctic expedition of 1836-1837, the Ross expedition of 1839 to 1843, and Sir John Franklin's ill-fated attempt to force the Northwest Passage in 1845, during which she was lost with all hands.

War service

HMS Terror saw service in the War of 1812 against the United States. Under the command of John Sheridan, she took part in the bombardment of Stonington, Connecticut, on 9–12 August 1814 and of Fort McHenry in the Battle of Baltimore on 13–14 September 1814; the latter attack inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that eventually became known as "The Star-Spangled Banner". In January 1815, still under Sheridan's command, Terror was involved in the Battle of Fort Peter and the attack on St. Marys, Georgia.[2]

After the end of the War, Terror was laid up until 1828, when she was recommissioned for service in the Mediterranean under the command of David Hope. On 18 February 1828, she ran aground on a lee shore near Lisbon, Portugal as a result of a hurricane; eventually refloated, she was withdrawn from service after repairs.

Arctic service

Bomb vessels were strongly built in order to withstand the enormous recoil of their three-ton mortars, and this made them suited to Arctic service. In 1836, command of Terror was given to Captain George Back for an expedition to the northern part of Hudson Bay, with a view to entering Repulse Bay, where landing parties were to be sent out to determine whether the Boothia Peninsula was an island or a peninsula. However, Terror failed to reach Repulse Bay and barely survived the winter off Southampton Island, at one point being forced 40 feet (12 m) up the side of a cliff by the ice. In the spring of 1837, an encounter with an iceberg further damaged the ship, which was in a sinking condition by the time Back was able to beach the ship on the coast of Ireland at Lough Swilly.[3]

Ross expedition

'Erebus' and the 'Terror' in New Zealand, August 1841, by John Wilson Carmichael

Terror was repaired and next assigned to a voyage to the Antarctic in company with Erebus under the overall command of James Clark Ross. Francis Crozier was commander of Terror on this expedition, which spanned three seasons from 1840 to 1843 during which Terror and Erebus made three forays into Antarctic waters, crossing the Ross Sea twice, and sailing through the Weddell Sea southeast of the Falkland Islands. The volcano Mount Terror on Ross Island was named after the ship.[3]

The plants that the expedition discovered were described in the resulting The Botany of the Antarctic Voyage of H.M. Discovery Ships Erebus and Terror in the years 1839–1843, under the Command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross.

Franklin expedition

Erebus and Terror were both outfitted with steam engines, taken from ex London and Greenwich Railway steam locomotives. Rated at 25 horsepower (19 kW), it could propel the ship at 4 knots (7.4 km/h). Twelve day's supply of coal was carried.[4] Iron plating was added to their hulls for their voyage to the Arctic with Sir John Franklin in overall command of the expedition in Erebus, and Terror again under the command of Captain Francis Rawdon Moira Crozier. The expedition was ordered to gather magnetic data in the Canadian Arctic and complete a crossing of the Northwest Passage, which had already been charted from both the east and west but never entirely navigated.

The expedition sailed from Greenhithe on 19 May 1845 and the ships were last seen entering Baffin Bay in August 1845. The disappearance of the Franklin expedition set off a massive search effort in the Arctic and the broad circumstances of the expedition's fate were revealed during a series of expeditions between 1848 and 1866. Both ships had become icebound and were abandoned by their crews, all of whom died of exposure and starvation while trying to trek overland to Fort Resolution, a Hudson's Bay Company outpost 600 mi (970 km) to the southwest. Subsequent expeditions up until the late 1980s, including autopsies of crew members, revealed that their canned rations may have been tainted by both lead and botulism. Oral reports by local Inuit that some of the crew members resorted to cannibalism were at least somewhat supported by forensic evidence of cut marks on the skeletal remains of crew members found on King William Island during the late 20th century.

A British transport ship, Renovation, spotted two ships on a large ice floe off the coast of Newfoundland in April 1851. The identities of the two ships were not confirmed. It has been suggested that these ships may have been Erebus and Terror, though it is more likely that they were abandoned whaling ships.[5]

On 15 August 2008, Parks Canada, an agency of the Government of Canada, announced a C$75,000 six-week search, deploying the icebreaker CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier with the goal of finding the two ships. The search is also intended to strengthen Canada's claims of sovereignty over large portions of the Arctic.[6] Further attempts to locate the ships were undertaken in 2010, 2011, and 2012,[7] all of which failed to locate the ships' remains.

On 8 September 2014 it was announced that the wreckage of one of Franklin's ships was found on 7 September using a remotely operated underwater vehicle recently acquired by Parks Canada.[8][9] However, on 1 October 2014 Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that the remains were that of Erebus.[10] The final resting place of Terror has still to be found. The remains of the ships are designated a National Historic Site of Canada with the exact location withheld in order to preserve the wreck and prevent looting.[11][12][13]

In fiction

The 2008 novel Arctic Drift by Clive Cussler uses Terror and the Erebus as part of the plot as well as the establishing backstory.

Terror features heavily in Dan Simmons's 2007 novel The Terror.

The Franklin expedition provides a back-story in Margaret Atwood's short story "The Age of Lead".

Terror and Erebus are featured in the Doctor Who Audio Drama story Terror of the Arctic.

Terror and Erebus are mentioned, in the context of Captain Ross’s expedition, by Captain Nemo in Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea on background to establish the difficulty of attaining the South Pole, while Captain Nemo stands upon its fictional summit.[14]

Terror and Erebus are mentioned in Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness.

The fate of the Franklin expedition is a central plot point in Mordecai Richler's Solomon Gursky Was Here.

See also


  1. Bourne, John (1852). "Appendix, Table I: Dimensions Of Screw Steam Vessels In Her Majesty's Navy". A treatise on the screw propeller: with various suggestions of improvement. London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans. p. i.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. James, William (1835). The Naval History of Great Britain. 6. London: James Ridgway. p. 235. On the 14th, the combined forces [at Point St Peter], accompanied by the bomb vessels Devastation and Terror..ascended the river to St Marys<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 Paine, Lincoln P. (2000). Ships of Discovery and Exploration. Houghton Mifflin. pp. 139–140. ISBN 0-395-98415-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  5. "Arctic Blue Books - British Parliamentary Papers Abstract, 1852k". University of Manitoba Libraries - Archives and Special Collections. 1852.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Boswell, Randy (2008-01-30). "Parks Canada to lead new search for Franklin ships". Windsor Star. Retrieved 2013-08-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "2012 search Expedition for Franklin's ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror". Office of the Prime Minister (Canada). 2012-08-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Sir John Franklin: Fabled Arctic ship found". BBC News. 2014-09-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Lost Franklin expedition ship found in the Arctic". CBC News. 2014-09-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Franklin expedition ship found in Arctic ID'd as HMS Erebus". CBC News. 2014-10-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Erebus and Terror. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
  12. "National Historic Sites of Canada System Plan". Parks Canada. 2009-05-08. Retrieved 2013-08-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "National Historic Sites of Canada System Plan map". Parks Canada. 2009-04-15. Retrieved 2013-08-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Verne, Jules (1962). 20000 Leagues Under the Sea. Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-21063-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


External links