Pandora British Arctic Expedition 1875-1876 antique print
On 4th. October in 1875 ‘The Illustrated London News’ carried our image above the caption “The Arctic Expedition: The Pandora beating up for Carey Islands.”
A Philomel Class wooden-hulled gunboat, launched from Pembroke Dockyard in February 1861, and fitted out at Portsmouth Dockyard, the Pandora flew the white ensign of the Royal Navy between 1859 and 1867.
Pandora served off the coast of West Africa and in the Mediterranean, before being decommissioned and sold as a private yacht to British sailor explorer Allen Young.
Young would employ the vessel in one of the last expeditions sent to the Canadian Arctic to search for the Franklin Expedition which had disappeared 30 years earlier whilst attempting to find the North-West Passage.
Our image today shows Pandora “beating up” Carey Islands, an archipelago off Baffin Bay and the most westerly point of Greenland.
Allen Young’s search for Franklin, and the North-West Passage, both proved to be a failure. Unable to penetrate the ice in Peel Sound (which Sir John Franklin had passed through in 1846) he was forced to return to England.
However, the British expedition was not Pandora’s last Arctic journey.
Re-named Jeannette, she would again venture into Arctic waters commanded by George Washington De Long, a United States Navy officer who led the ill-fated Jeannette expedition of 1879–1881.
Trapped in an ice pack in the Chukchi Sea northeast of Wrangel Island in September 1879 ‘Jeanette’ drifted in the ice pack until it was crushed by the ice and sank in June 1881.
De Long died of starvation in his attempt to make his way home. As did over twenty men of the expedition and others who attempted their rescue.