03/04/2015 09:10 EST | Updated 05/04/2015 05:59 EDT

Ice divers and underwater archeologists to study Franklin ship in Arctic

TORONTO - Ice divers and underwater archeologists will plunge deep into Arctic waters starting next month in an effort to unlock the secrets of HMS Erebus, the ship on which Sir John Franklin himself sailed and may have died.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the announcement Wednesday night in Toronto at an event celebrating the discovery of the historic shipwreck last year.

He says the divers and archeologists will venture beneath the ice daily for roughly 11 days.

The two ships of the Franklin expedition and their crews, 129 members in all, disappeared during an 1845 quest for the Northwest Passage.

So far, the location of the other ship, HMS Terror, remains a mystery but Harper says he's confident it can be found.

Since 2008, Parks Canada has led six major searches for the lost ships, which long ago captured the Victorian imagination and gave rise to many searches throughout the 19th century for Franklin and his crew.