The Edmund Fitzgerald

The Edmund Fitzgerald
The Edmund Fitzgerald
Courtesy Public Domain

While carrying a load of taconite pellets from Superior, Wisconsin, on November 10, 1975, the Edmund Fitzgerald mysteriously sank in a “super storm” on Lake Superior. The Fitzgerald had radio contact with the Arthur M. Anderson during the early part of the storm, but communication stopped before the ship went down. The crew of the Anderson heard no specific information that could explain why the Fitzgerald sank. The entire crew was lost.

The US Coast Guard’s investigation led to recommendations to help avoid similar losses in the future, including these key points:

  • Since the stormy weather pushed massive amounts of water onto the ship’s deck, where it settled into the hold areas, ore boats need water-removal systems in cargo hold areas and improved measures to seal lower deck compartments from water washing into the ship.
  • Crew members must demonstrate, during annual inspections by the Coast Guard, that they’ve been trained in the use of life-saving equipment and procedures.
  • Ships operating on the Great Lakes during storm season (November 1–March 31) are required to have emergency radio beacons.
  • All ships operating on the Great Lakes during storm season must have full-body suits that can protect each crew member from exposure and hypothermia.
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