HMS Assistance antique print published 17th April 1852 in ‘The Illustrated London News,’ showing Edward Belcher’s ship HMS Assistance (together with HMS North Star and HMS Resolute) sent in search of Sir John Franklin.
Assistance was launched as the merchant vessel Acorn in 1835 at Howrah, Calcutta (Mumbai.)
Renamed Baboo, she transported coolies from Calcutta to Mauritius and repatriated others on a return journey that resulted in the loss of 17 of the 240 that had embarked.
Moving her homeport to Greenock, Scotland, Baboo transported migrants to Port Adelaide, South Australia.
Between voyages, she was involved in an accident at Limehouse, on the River Thames, in east London, when she ran aground whilst being towed, and sank.
Refloated and repaired she returned to her work transporting migrants to Australia.
However, in 1850 she was purchased by the Royal Navy and renamed HMS Assistance as part of the campaign to discover the whereabouts of Sir John Franklin who had disappeared in an attempt to find the North West Passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean via Canada.
The expedition failed to locate Franklin’s vessel and returned to England in 1851
Again in 1852 she sailed with the Royal Navy’s last attempt to find Franklin under the command of Captain Edward Belcher.
Assistance became trapped with other vessels in ice off Bathurst Island where she was abandoned in August 1854.
Court-martialled, Edward Belcher was exonerated.
He is remembered in the Canadian Arctic by the naming of the Belcher Islands.