Edmund Fitzgerald Wreck: See photos of the Great Lakes’ most famous ship
LAKE SUPERIOR – Forty-six years ago today, the Edmund Fitzgerald was in the throes of a deadly storm on Lake Superior.
Investigators would later say that the course of the Mighty Fitz had placed it in the “worst possible place” amid the monstrous waves of that November gale.
When it sank with the 29 souls on board on November 10, 1975, the story of the big freighter quickly became the best-known wreck on the Great Lake.
His disappearance was shared around the world in Gordon Lightfoot’s song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”, while the heartbreaking details of the ore carrier’s last voyage have become part of sailor lore.
Today we remember the lives lost. And we honor the incredible bravery of those who risked their lives to search for a crew that would never be rescued.
We are highlighting a collection of photos that have been shared by our friends at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, the Associated Press, the US Coast Guard and other ship enthusiasts.
We’ve included some interesting facts about the Fitzgerald’s working history as a stellar cargo transporter, and some of the heart-wrenching conversations that marked its final hours.
At Mighty Fitz, we offer the formal salute: 3 long and 2 short.
RELATED: Edmund Fitzgerald 2021 Memorial Event: The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point on the Upper Peninsula will offer a live memorial service at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, November 10. See broadcast details here.
Part 1: The first days
Part 2: the day of the storm
CONVERSATION AT 3:30 PM NOV. 10, 1975
3:30 p.m. The captain of the Fitzgerald, Ernest McSorley, calls the captain of the neighboring cargo ship Aurthur M. Anderson, Jesse Cooper, to report the damage and say his ship will slow down to let Anderson catch up. A few minutes later, the US Coast Guard gave instructions to all ships to find a safe anchorage because the Soo locks had been closed.
McSorley: âAnderson, this is the Fitzgerald. I suffered damage on the top. I installed a fence rail, two lost or damaged vents and a list. I check. Will you stay with me until I get to Whitefish? “
Cooper: âCharlie on this Fitzgerald. Are your pumps working? “
McSorley: ” Yes both. “
CONVERSATION AT 5:30 PM NOV. 10, 1975
5.30 p.m. Fitzgerald is informed by the Swedish vessel Avafors that the Whitefish Point beacon and light are deactivated in the event of a power failure.
Avafors: âFitzgerald, these are the Avafors. I now have the Whitefish light but still am not receiving any beacons. More.”
Fitzgerald: “I am very happy to hear it.”
Avafors: âThe wind is really howling here. What conditions are you in?
Fitzgerald: (Indistinguishable cries heard) “DON’T LEAVE ANYBODY ON THE BRIDGE!”
Avafors: “What is it, Fitzgerald?” Not clear. More.”
Fitzgerald: âI have a bad list, I lost both radars. And I take a heavy sea on the bridge. One of the worst seas I have ever been in.
Avafors: âIf I’m not mistaken, you have two radars.
Fitzgerald: “They are both gone
FINAL CONVERSATION NOV. 10, 1975
7:10 p.m. Anderson calls Fitzgerald with navigation instructions. The ship is about 10 miles behind the doomed freighter.
Anderson: âFitzgerald, it’s the Anderson. Have you checked ? “
Anderson: “Fitzgerald, we’re about 10 miles behind you and we’re gaining about 1.5 miles per hour. Fitzgerald, there’s a target 19 miles ahead of us. The target would therefore be 9 miles in front of you. “
Fitzgerald: “Well, am I going to erase? “
Anderson: “Yes. It will pass west of you.
Anderson: “By the way, Fitzgerald, how are you doing with your problem?”
Fitzgerald: âWe are holding on. “
Anderson: “Alright, alright. I’ll talk to you later.
7:15 p.m. Fitzgerald disappears from Anderson’s radar. More than an hour later, the Coast Guard begins an active search. The 29 crew members on board all perished.
Part 3: Parts recovered, dived on the wreck site
What sank the Edmund Fitzgerald? 6 theories on the causes of the shipwreck
Gordon Lightfoot explains why he wrote “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”