Kraken Sonar Systems, Canada, is to collaborate with organisations from public, private and non-profit sectors to locate the historic ships of the ill-fated 1845 Franklin Expedition. The use of multiple platforms has the potential to significantly increase the amount of Arctic seabed mapped this summer. Ice and weather conditions permitting, the project could significantly exceed the amount of ocean floor scanned and mapped during any previous expedition.
For more than 150 years, expeditions sent to the Canadian Arctic in an attempt to learn the fate of the Franklin expedition have increased our knowledge of one of the world's most remote and unforgiving environments. The 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition is the most ambitious to date, with more partners and more sophisticated technologies than ever before striving to achieve a number of strategic goals.
Four ships will serve as the main platforms: the Canadian Coast Guard's CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the Royal Canadian Navy's HMCS Kingston, the Arctic Research Foundation's research vessel Martin Bergmann, and One Ocean Expeditions' One Ocean Voyager. In addition, a number of additional vessels along with autonomous and remote-controlled underwater vehicles will be utilised. Together, these platforms, vessels and vehicles will enable the teams to deploy high-resolution sonar technologies in a carefully choreographed effort to survey and map the seabed while searching for evidence of Franklin's lost ships.
Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), an agency of the Department of National Defence, is involved in some of the new technologies that will be used in this year's expedition. The Arctic Explorer, for example, is an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) made by International Submarine Engineering Ltd of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, and equipped with an ultra high-resolution AquaPix Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Sonar (INSAS) produced by Kraken Sonar Systems of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. This year, DRDC will also conduct a series of experiments on the performance of sonar imaging technologies in extremely low water temperatures.