Edmund Fitzgerald Wreck: See photos of the Great Lakes’ most famous ship

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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

The launch of Edmund Fitzgerald at Great Lakes Engineering Works on June 7, 1958.

Edmund fitzgerald

Edmund Fitzgerald seen from the Ambassador Bridge. In this photo, the ship is en route (descending) on ​​the Detroit River in 1960

Edmund fitzgerald

The Edmund Fitzgerald under construction.

EDMUND FITZGERALD

FILE – This is an undated file photo of the Edmund Fitzgerald who dived to the bottom of Lake Superior on November 10, 1975 (AP Photo / File)ASSOCIATED PRESS

Edmund fitzgerald

The Edmund Fitzgerald was built at the Great Lakes Engineering Works in River Rouge and launched in 1958.

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: “Anderson, 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: “Charlie on this Fitzgerald. Are your pumps working? “

McSorley: ” Yes both. “

Arthur M. Anderson

Ore transporter Arthur M. Anderson takes a load of taconite on October 25, 2005 in Duluth, Minn. The Anderson was called in to help search for the hapless Edmund Fitzgerald in the rough waters of Lake Superior in 1975. The Fitzgerald, an ore carrier, sunk on November 10, 1975. (AP Photo / Jim Mone)PA

Edmund fitzgerald

This underwater photo of the sunk SS Edmund Fitzgerald was taken by an unmanned submersible robot, as a search team investigates the site of the wreckage 17 miles northwest of Whitefish Point, Mich., On the 24th. August 1989. The 729 foot ore freighter sank in November On December 23, 1975, in a severe storm, carrying her iron load and the crew of 29 men to the bottom of Lake Superior. (AP Photo)ASSOCIATED PRESS

Edmund fitzgerald

This 1976 underwater photo shows a close-up of the wheelhouse of the cargo ship Edmund Fitzgerald after it sank at the bottom of Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. The cargo ship split in two when caught in a severe storm and sank with its load of iron ore and a crew of 29 men. (AP Photo)ASSOCIATED PRESS

Edmund fitzgerald

An underwater camera provides a view of the wheelhouse of the wreck of the Great Lakes ore transporter Edmund Fitzgerald. The huge ship sank in a severe storm on Lake Superior on November 10, 1975, killing all 29 people on board. (AP Photo / US Coast Guard)PA

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: “Fitzgerald, 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: “The 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: “I 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: “If I’m not mistaken, you have two radars.

Fitzgerald: “They are both gone

The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Image of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald taken while diving in 1995 to retrieve the ship’s bell. Photo provided by the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.

The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Image of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald taken while diving in 1995 to retrieve the ship’s bell. The ship sank in a storm off Whitefish Point in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. Photo provided by the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.

The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Image of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald taken while diving in 1995 to retrieve the ship’s bell. Photo provided by the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.

The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Image of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald taken while diving in 1995 to retrieve the ship’s bell. The ship sank in a storm off Whitefish Point in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. Photo provided by the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.

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: “Fitzgerald, it’s the Anderson. Have you checked ? “

Fitzgerald: “Yes.”

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.

Fitzgerald: “Well.”

Anderson: “By the way, Fitzgerald, how are you doing with your problem?”

Fitzgerald: “We 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

The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Life jackets recovered after the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Photo courtesy of the US Coast Guard.

The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Lifeboat # 2 which was recovered after the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Photo courtesy of the US Coast Guard.

The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

An oil-splattered lifebuoy from the Edmund Fitzgerald was among the few debris recovered after the sinking. Photo courtesy of the US Coast Guard and Fred Stonehouse.

Investigation of Edmund Fitzgerald

Edmund Fitzgerald shipwreck site sketch from the 1977 U.S. Coast Guard Marine Accident Report.

Highlights on Edmund Fitzgerald

When the US Coast Guard inspected the site of the Edmund Fitzgerald wreck in 1976, they used a US Navy submersible to obtain video of the two halves of the ship at the bottom of the lake, covered in mud. Artist’s sketches made from this video are included in the official marine casualty report published in 1977.

Highlights on Edmund Fitzgerald

Lake Superior claimed the 29 men aboard the Mighty Fitz, from the young deckhand to its veteran captain.

Coast Guard officers on a Board of Inquiry inspected the lifebuoys recovered from the ore carrier Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in stormy weather in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. The 29 crew members on board were on board. perished and did not have the chance to use any rescue equipment. The inspection took place in Cleveland Harbor on Sunday November 24, 1975 and officers donned white coveralls because the equipment was covered in oil. (Photo AP / GE)PA

The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Edmund Fitzgerald’s sound box, which was later found overturned in half and covered in oil. This was part of the limited amount of debris discovered after the sinking. Photo courtesy of the US Coast Guard and Fred Stonehouse.

The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

The US Navy CURV-III remotely operated vehicle was brought in to inspect the wreckage of the Edmund Fitzgerald in the spring of 1976. Photo courtesy of the US Coast Guard and Fred Stonehouse.

Edmund fitzgerald

A helicopter, helping to search for Str. Edmund Fitzgerald lost on an intense night in Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior just north of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Was refueled at a landing pad at Whitefish Point on Tuesday, November 12, 1975. The Fitzgerald sank with a crowd of 29 while carrying approximately 26,000 tons of taconite pellets. (Photo AP / JCH)ASSOCIATED PRESS

Edmund fitzgerald

A life raft from the SS Edmund Fitzgerald is examined by a US Coast Guard at the dock in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, Tuesday afternoon, November 12, 1975. The raft was brought ashore from the steamboat Roger Blough, which took the raft from Whitefish Bay where the Fitzgerald sank on November 10. (AP Photo)

Highlights on Edmund Fitzgerald

Edmund Fitzgerald’s bell is now on display at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Whitefish Point. Canadian explorer Joseph MacInnis led an expedition in 1995 to recover it. This quest has given the families of the lost crew members a tangible memorial.

READ MORE

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”


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