Though there was continued expectation that the ice would ultimately release its hold and give access to open water, the Tegetthoff was now drifting into the unknown. The ship was to remain locked during the winter of 1872-73, through the summer that followed, and through another winter, 1873-74. Hope, discipline and morale remained high however and when an obvious land mass was sighted a sledge expedition was despatched, under one of the expedition leaders, Julius von Payer, to investigate. The land discovered proved to be an archipelago, now known to consist of 191 islands, and one of the most barren places on earth, and then wholly uninhabited. It was duly named after Emperor Franz Josef.
In our own day, accustomed as we are to instant global communication, it is difficult to imagine just how desperate was the plight in the past of any vessel held in the ice, with no definite prospect of being released, and no means of contacting the outside world to call for help. It is therefore all the more credit to the Tegetthoff expedition that, even in these potentially lethal circumstances, scientific work proceeded calmly and systematically.