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Surveying activities that are part of the search

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has billed the Franklin search as an expression of Canadian sovereignty in the North - particularly in light of the "imperial ambitions" of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The mapping and surveying activities that are part of the search are considered a sign of domestic prowess in the Arctic.

A Russian-owned ship became part of the multipartner Victoria Strait Expedition after it became apparent the Canadian alternative, a former coast guard icebreaker, couldn't carry the private financial donors underwriting part of the search.

The Akademik Sergey Vavilov, crewed by the Russian Academy of Sciences, was chartered and operated by British Columbia-based One Ocean Expeditions. The firm regularly uses Russianflagged ships to run its tours into the Arctic.

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society helped put together a team that included One Ocean and other corporate sponsors to partner with the federal government in its search for the Franklin ships, lost in the Arctic around 1845. The Akademik Sergey Vavilov was to serve as a platform for the federal government's state-of-the-art underwater survey vehicle.

By offering donors a chance to ride along, the non-profit geographical society was able to help pay for the expensive charter and also fund a range of educational work across the country.

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