Ice Blink Essay
Due Sept. 15th 2008
Fit For the Job
The Franklin Expedition was equipped with two top notched ships, the HMS Erebus, and HMS Terror. According to Cookman, these ships were considered “space shuttles of their day; built to go, quite literally, where no ship had gone before.”(36). The Erebus and Terror were bomb ships built to endure “crushing recoil of 5 ton mortars firing 13 inch shells packed with 200 pounds of explosives.”(37) These two ships were the best fit for Franklin’s polar expeditions of the Northwest Passage because they had been at sea before, and were designed with the best technology and crafting techniques to assure the men a safe voyage.
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Sir John Barrow was the man who designed and reconstructed the Erebus and Terror for Franklin’s journey. He made sure that these boats would be built to their highest capabilities, and be able to withstand the three year voyage through ice and harsh weather conditions. He planned to equip the two ships with Victorian England’s latest technology and make them indestructible to the ice. He started by building the frame and supports out of very strong English Oak. By doing so he also created a very flat bottom for the ships, which made them ideal for balance and cargo. Cargo space was very important in the plans of building these boats. The crews would be on both ships for three years so each one needed to store as much food and supplies as possible. In order to withstand and survive the ice packs, Barrow made it his mission to strengthen the ships up so they could endure the hundreds of pounds per square inch of pressure. He did so by “doubling the three inches of English oak with two layers of African oak, each 1.5 inches thick, wrought diagonally against one another for even greater strength. This in turn was overlaid with two layers of Canadian elm, each 2 inches thick, wrought diagonally against the African oak. This amounted to 5 belts of timber fully 10 inches thick.”(37) By doing this Barrow assured the crew and Officers safety on each boat and prevented the ice packs from destroying the ships.
Along with protecting the ship’s outsides from damaging ice packs, Barrow also focused on protecting their insides. Barrow insulated the ships with cork, and created an internal heating system that ran through each one. Lining a ship with an internal heating system had never even been heard of at the time which goes to show how dedicated Barrow was to protecting these men.
Towards the end of the book Cookman criticizes the ships for not having enough coal for fuel and heat. Before this dilemma, both veteran cooks, Richard Wall and John Diggle made sure to prepare the foods at a high enough temperature to kill bacteria. As the voyage continued the ships began to run out of coal and did not have enough to...