Almost everyone, knows of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, partly due to the popular song written and sung by Canadian artist Gordon Lightfoot.
SS Edmund Fitzgerald was an American Great Lakes freighter that sank in a storm in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975, with the loss of the entire crew of 29. She was the largest ship on the Great Lakes of North America when it was launched on June 7, 1958, and she remains to this day, the largest ship resting in the bottom of a Great Lake (Superior).
Land lovers don’t realise what it feels like to be on Lake Superior in November:: freezing cold, blowing snow at night, waves of 30 plus feet and waves crashing at 60-90 MPH from two directions at once. Throw yourself into some deep dark water and you have hurricane like conditions. The Edmund Fitzgerald radioed being in significant difficulty to the Arthur M. Anderson. “I’ve got a bad list, I’ve lost both radars, and I’m taking heavy seas over the deck. One of the worst seas I’ve ever been in.” No signs of distress were sent before she sank; the last message to the Arthur M. Anderson from Captain McSorley (7:10 p.m.) was, “We’re holding our own”.
Captain Cooper of the Arthur M Anderson, his crew and other ships were heroes going back in this violent super storm to look for survivors. The Coast Guard later said it was as bad or worse than a super storm in the North Atlantic.
The exact cause of the Fitzgerald’s sinking remains uncertain although it has been investigated by several authors, surveys, and expeditions. Edmund Fitzgerald may have suffered swamping, structural failure, topside damage, experienced wave shoaling, or a combination of all of these. With no survivors, there is basically no answer.