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Author Topic: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald  (Read 852 times)

Flint1979

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The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
« on: November 10, 2018, 07:13:40 PM »

I just got it into my head that it is 43 years to the minute that the Edmund Fitzgerald sank in 530 feet of water in Lake Superior. As I heard Gordon Lightfoot's tribute to this ship I had studied this shipwreck in school. RIP to the 29 men on the Edmund Fitzgerald.
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KEVIN_224

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Re: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2018, 07:23:02 AM »

Did Burton Cummings of the Guess Who do his impression of Gordon singing this song? Regardless, his impression of Gordon singing Rod Stewart's "Maggie May" is spot-on perfect! :D
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Re: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2018, 05:04:10 PM »

I think it's still the last sinking of a commercial ship in the Great Lakes.

Three cheers for GPS and better weather forecasting.
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Re: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2018, 06:23:30 PM »

Many years ago, from WROR-Boston's Loren & Wally show.
Note: the song is parodying Gordon Lightfoot; not the 29 crew members.
 
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Re: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2018, 01:09:21 PM »

Does anyone know where the love of God goes, when the waves turn the minutes to hours?


Favorite lyrics from Gordon Lightfoot's famous song.


By the way, is it a common thing for people around the region to learn about the shipwreck or something? I've heard it before from two people that they've learned of it in school.
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abefroman329

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Re: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2018, 01:46:00 PM »

By the way, is it a common thing for people around the region to learn about the shipwreck or something? I've heard it before from two people that they've learned of it in school.
It didn't make it into my school's curriculum in suburban Chicago, but I can see how it would have in cities and towns affected by the shipwreck, similar to how my school seemed to devote a lot of time to the Great Chicago Fire.
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roadman

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Re: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2018, 01:59:37 PM »

Did Burton Cummings of the Guess Who do his impression of Gordon singing this song? Regardless, his impression of Gordon singing Rod Stewart's "Maggie May" is spot-on perfect! :D

Doing an impression of Gordon Lightfoot signing a Gordon Lightfoot song?  Kind of defeats the purpose, if you ask me.
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Flint1979

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Re: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2018, 05:59:28 PM »

Does anyone know where the love of God goes, when the waves turn the minutes to hours?


Favorite lyrics from Gordon Lightfoot's famous song.


By the way, is it a common thing for people around the region to learn about the shipwreck or something? I've heard it before from two people that they've learned of it in school.
This ship is the largest to go down in the Great Lakes and if you are learning about shipwrecks this one gets mentioned. One reason for it's sinking is that the Edmund Fitzgerald sat low in the water which allowed more water in to flood the deck weighing it down causing it to take on more water. It also hit a shoal as it was passing Caribou Island.
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Re: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2018, 12:11:52 AM »

Wisconsin Public Radio created a radio documentary about the tragedy some years ago. The producer, Mike, was a colleague from my college days: he sadly passed in 2014.

It is around 3 hours in length.

https://www.wpr.org/we-are-holding-our-own
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Re: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2018, 11:15:09 AM »

It also hit a shoal as it was passing Caribou Island.

That theory has never been conclusively proven.  As part of the investigation into the sinking, divers did an extensive review of the area around Caribou Island known as Six Fathom Shoal.  They found no evidence to support the idea that the Fitzgerald struck bottom there.  Because of how the wreck broke apart and hit bottom, it is impossible to examine the underside of the hull to look for impact damage.
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Re: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2018, 11:46:13 AM »

Kids in the Twin Ports (Duluth/Superior) learn about the Fitz.  Ship left from there.

I learned about it in MA just because my father liked the song.
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Flint1979

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Re: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2018, 11:47:25 AM »

It also hit a shoal as it was passing Caribou Island.

That theory has never been conclusively proven.  As part of the investigation into the sinking, divers did an extensive review of the area around Caribou Island known as Six Fathom Shoal.  They found no evidence to support the idea that the Fitzgerald struck bottom there.  Because of how the wreck broke apart and hit bottom, it is impossible to examine the underside of the hull to look for impact damage.
Any rumors regarding it I'm probably going to believe because I don't think there is a way to prove it happened. It's about 50 miles from Caribou Island to the spot where the ship went down.
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roadman

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Re: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2018, 12:10:54 PM »

It also hit a shoal as it was passing Caribou Island.

That theory has never been conclusively proven.  As part of the investigation into the sinking, divers did an extensive review of the area around Caribou Island known as Six Fathom Shoal.  They found no evidence to support the idea that the Fitzgerald struck bottom there.  Because of how the wreck broke apart and hit bottom, it is impossible to examine the underside of the hull to look for impact damage.
Any rumors regarding it I'm probably going to believe because I don't think there is a way to prove it happened. It's about 50 miles from Caribou Island to the spot where the ship went down.
You can believe what you want, and I have no objections to that.  Just pointing out that the bottoming out scenario, like the swamped by giant waves scenario, is still a theory that has been neither conclusively proven nor disproven.  Haven't listened to the NPR documentary yet, but most documentaries I've seen on the sinking have been biased towards either the bottoming out theory or the swamping theory.  The truth is that that, and this is echoed in Gordon Lightfoot's ballad, we will never conclusively know exactly what caused the Fitzgerald to sink.
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Flint1979

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Re: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2018, 12:29:36 PM »

It also hit a shoal as it was passing Caribou Island.

That theory has never been conclusively proven.  As part of the investigation into the sinking, divers did an extensive review of the area around Caribou Island known as Six Fathom Shoal.  They found no evidence to support the idea that the Fitzgerald struck bottom there.  Because of how the wreck broke apart and hit bottom, it is impossible to examine the underside of the hull to look for impact damage.
Any rumors regarding it I'm probably going to believe because I don't think there is a way to prove it happened. It's about 50 miles from Caribou Island to the spot where the ship went down.
You can believe what you want, and I have no objections to that.  Just pointing out that the bottoming out scenario, like the swamped by giant waves scenario, is still a theory that has been neither conclusively proven nor disproven.  Haven't listened to the NPR documentary yet, but most documentaries I've seen on the sinking have been biased towards either the bottoming out theory or the swamping theory.  The truth is that that, and this is echoed in Gordon Lightfoot's ballad, we will never conclusively know exactly what caused the Fitzgerald to sink.
I don't think we'll ever know what really made the ship sink. I have heard that it split in two as it sank and that it plunged into a giant wave and went down after that. Superior does have that shoal of about 20 square miles about 50 miles north of Copper Harbor where the water in some areas is only about 21 feet deep and I've heard rumors about the ship striking a shoal and that's all we can go by I guess is just rumors. I have heard things about the wreck from Jesse Cooper, Captain of the Arthur M. Anderson which was running closely with the Edmund Fitzgerald when it sank.
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roadman

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Re: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2018, 12:40:07 PM »

Quote
I have heard things about the wreck from Jesse Bernie Cooper, Captain of the Arthur M. Anderson which was running closely with the Edmund Fitzgerald when it sank.
  His name was Jesse Bernie Cooper, but every reference I've heard or read has referred to him as Bernie.

Bernie Cooper has been interviewed in most documentaries made about the Fitzgerald sinking.  Having seen these interviews, I've found his comments to widely differ based on the focus of the specific documentary (i.e. which theory the producers are trying to support) he appears in at the time.  So, while Captain Cooper's comments bear some weight in analyzing the course of events leading to the sinking, and meaning no disrespect to the man, they should be taken with a grain of salt.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2018, 12:42:54 PM by roadman »
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COLORADOrk

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Re: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
« Reply #15 on: November 18, 2018, 02:53:11 AM »

Gordon Lightfoot turned 80 years old yesterday
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US 81

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Re: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2018, 09:17:39 AM »

The type of cargo hatch covers in use on the Edmund Fitzgerald had an excellent safety record. In the wrecked hull pieces, most of the hatch covers were found in the open position although those few that were closed were severely damaged. I've often wondered whether this resulted from the exceptional force of the high winds and waves (as per the NTSB report), and/or if there was a failure to fully secure the hatch covers that were felt to be so effective that there was not a need to fully secure them (USCG report).

Having grown up in Texas, I'm not sure I would have heard of the Edmund Fitzgerald but for the song, which I think eventually led me to an interest in this and other maritime disasters.
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Flint1979

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Re: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2018, 11:07:16 AM »

The type of cargo hatch covers in use on the Edmund Fitzgerald had an excellent safety record. In the wrecked hull pieces, most of the hatch covers were found in the open position although those few that were closed were severely damaged. I've often wondered whether this resulted from the exceptional force of the high winds and waves (as per the NTSB report), and/or if there was a failure to fully secure the hatch covers that were felt to be so effective that there was not a need to fully secure them (USCG report).

Having grown up in Texas, I'm not sure I would have heard of the Edmund Fitzgerald but for the song, which I think eventually led me to an interest in this and other maritime disasters.
The song did a lot to get me interested in the ship as well. I think what the biggest thing for me was that it was a Michigan thing as the Edmund Fitzgerald was going to Zug Island in Detroit when it went down, then after it unloaded there it was suppose to go to Cleveland where it was going to be stored for the winter. The Arthur M. Anderson which was the ship that was in contact with the Fitz was heading to Gary, Indiana. If they could have made it to Whitefish Point I think they would have been fine there but the Soo Locks were already closed because of the storm at that point.

Btw, happy 80th birthday to Gordon Lightfoot yesterday.
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Re: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
« Reply #18 on: November 18, 2018, 11:15:18 PM »

SS Edmund Fitzgerald Sinking in Lake Superior
https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Pages/mar7803.aspx
https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Reports/MAR7803.pdf

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the sudden massive flooding of the cargo hold due to the collapse of one or more hatch covers.  Before the hatch covers collapsed, flooding into the ballast tanks and tunnel through topside damage and flooding into the cargo hold through nonweathertight hatch covers caused a reduction of freeboard and a list.  The hydrostatic and hydrodynamic forces imposed on the hatch covers by heavy boarding seas at this reduced freeboard and with the list caused the hatch covers to collapse.

Contributing to the accident was the lack of transverse watertight bulkheads in the cargo hold and the reduction of freeboard authorized by the 1969, 1971, and 1973 amendments to the Great Lakes Load Line Regulations.
.......

One of the board members had a dissenting opinion, he thought that partial grounding on a shoal caused damage that started progressive flooding that led to the ship becoming unseaworthy.  The majority of the board believed that the probable track of the ship didn't come closer than 3 miles from the shoals.

Other vessels in the area reported enormous and wild seas.  This lake is large enough and deep enough that it can generate its own weather patterns, and wave heights at times rivaling that of the ocean.
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Re: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
« Reply #19 on: November 19, 2018, 10:06:32 AM »

Gordon Lightfoot turned 80 years old yesterday
And I was exactly 9 days old when the wreck took place.  And yet, I never heard this song until a local 70's station included it in its playlist during the 1990's. 
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Flint1979

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Re: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
« Reply #20 on: November 19, 2018, 10:14:48 AM »

I first heard the song played on WUPS 98.5 as I was traveling northbound on I-75 a little north of Gaylord.
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roadman

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Re: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
« Reply #21 on: November 19, 2018, 12:41:59 PM »

SS Edmund Fitzgerald Sinking in Lake Superior
https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Pages/mar7803.aspx
https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Reports/MAR7803.pdf

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the sudden massive flooding of the cargo hold due to the collapse of one or more hatch covers.  Before the hatch covers collapsed, flooding into the ballast tanks and tunnel through topside damage and flooding into the cargo hold through nonweathertight hatch covers caused a reduction of freeboard and a list.  The hydrostatic and hydrodynamic forces imposed on the hatch covers by heavy boarding seas at this reduced freeboard and with the list caused the hatch covers to collapse.

Contributing to the accident was the lack of transverse watertight bulkheads in the cargo hold and the reduction of freeboard authorized by the 1969, 1971, and 1973 amendments to the Great Lakes Load Line Regulations.
.......

One of the board members had a dissenting opinion, he thought that partial grounding on a shoal caused damage that started progressive flooding that led to the ship becoming unseaworthy.  The majority of the board believed that the probable track of the ship didn't come closer than 3 miles from the shoals.

Other vessels in the area reported enormous and wild seas.  This lake is large enough and deep enough that it can generate its own weather patterns, and wave heights at times rivaling that of the ocean.

Thank you for posting the link to the NTSB report.  Hadn't read it in years, and it's not currently available on the "Accident Reports" section of the NTSB website.  Of course, the implication in the NTSB's findings that the crew was directly to blame for the sinking (by not properly securing the hatch covers) is still controversial among many.
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Beltway

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Re: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
« Reply #22 on: November 19, 2018, 01:47:00 PM »

Thank you for posting the link to the NTSB report.  Hadn't read it in years, and it's not currently available on the "Accident Reports" section of the NTSB website.  Of course, the implication in the NTSB's findings that the crew was directly to blame for the sinking (by not properly securing the hatch covers) is still controversial among many.

I reread the Findings and the Probable Cause and I don't see where they claimed that the hatch covers were not properly secured by the crew.  It said that the hatch covers were not watertight and that they allowed water to enter the cargo hold over an extended period in the storm.  It said that the topside vents and railing were damaged by a heavy object of some sort during the storm.  The hatch covers were damaged by boarding seas and the sea forces caused them to collapse.  From those events in the heavy seas more and more flooding occurred until the ship sank.

The only implied error by the crew was where it said that Great Lakes cargo vessels normally can avoid severe storms.  But that assumes the accuracy of external weather reports as well.  There are clear implications of design problems with the ship.  The report seems to clearly state that very heavy seas caused progressive damage and flooding that led to the sinking.

The fact that no crew member managed to survive on a life raft or life preserver gives an indication of how severe the storm and the seas must have been.

« Last Edit: November 19, 2018, 01:49:44 PM by Beltway »
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Re: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
« Reply #23 on: November 20, 2018, 09:44:55 AM »

The big thing about this incident is that it remains a mystery to why it sank due to lack of distress calls, NO Mayday, and even the fact the hands did not abandoned ship.  So there were no witnesses to this catastrophe to give account to it, so investigators had to rely on the physical evidence (that was done even later due to its finding of the vessel some time later), and prevailing conditions of what took place during the voyage and around the area at the moment.
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Beltway

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Re: The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
« Reply #24 on: November 20, 2018, 10:19:58 AM »

The big thing about this incident is that it remains a mystery to why it sank due to lack of distress calls, NO Mayday, and even the fact the hands did not abandoned ship.  So there were no witnesses to this catastrophe to give account to it, so investigators had to rely on the physical evidence (that was done even later due to its finding of the vessel some time later), and prevailing conditions of what took place during the voyage and around the area at the moment.

No mystery, IMHO, at least 80% of the various causes are known and maybe 10% are in dispute.  That ratio is common in major transportation disasters, it can be hard to solve every single point.

There were massive storms and seas and ship design weaknesses that the storm exploited, and some question as to why the bridge crew were not able to avoid the storm, although that could have been lacks in external weather reports.  Power failure during sudden sinking could have occured quickly enough that the radio failed before they made a distress call.

The NTSB report said that no survivors or bodies were found.  It also said that the life rafts and boats needed at least 10 minutes to load and launch in -good- weather, so the ship sank too quickly to allow use of them, as they were still on the ship.  So the bodies were probably still inside the ship, and unless someone sent divers to look for them they would not have been found, and 500 feet of water is not a safe environment for divers, or at least it is an extreme and risky environment for divers.

« Last Edit: November 20, 2018, 08:57:32 PM by Beltway »
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