Canada’s government says the discovery bolsters its claim to sovereignty over the Northwest Passage, which is feared threatened by increased shipping.
The Investigator was abandoned while searching for the Franklin expedition, itself lost with all its crew during a mission to discover the passage.
“It’s an incredible sight,” Canadian Minister of the Environment Jim Prentice told the BBC by telephone from Mercy Bay.
“You’re looking at what people have not seen in 156 years, which is a remarkably intact British sailing vessel.”
The Investigator, captained by Robert McClure, left Britain in 1848, ultimately making two attempts to find the Franklin expedition.
Its crew abandoned the ship on the western side of the Canadian Arctic when it became trapped in pack ice.
Running low on supplies and food, Capt Robert McClure and his men were eventually rescued by another party from the Royal Navy.