What’s Edmund Fitzgerald?

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The Edmund Fitzgerald was a famous ship that sailed the Great Lakes between 1958 and 1975. It sank on November 10, 1975, and all 29 crew members lost their lives. The ship’s bronze bell was recovered and used to establish a memorial. Theories about the cause of the sinking include faulty radar systems and improperly secured hatches.

The Edmund Fitzgerald was a ship that sailed the waters of the Great Lakes between 1958 and 1975. This ship is famous for its premature end, which generated a series of musical and theatrical tributes. The ship’s bronze bell was recovered in 1995 and used to establish a memorial to the 29 crew members who lost their lives aboard the ship when she sank with all hands.

Owned by Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, the Edmund Fitzgerald was named for the chairman of the board, and was the largest ship on the Great Lakes. In fact, the contract to build the ship actually stipulated that she was to be the largest ship on the Lakes, and the Edmund Fitzgerald set several cargo records in addition to being the largest ship. Hundreds of trips with various cargoes were made across the Great Lakes before the fateful day of November 10, 1975.

The ship was loaded with a cargo of taconite at Superior, Wisconsin, and sailed in company with the Arthur M. Anderson. The two ships encountered rough weather as they progressed, radioing back and forth about weather concerns, and the crew of the Edmund Fitzgerald reported that the ship was listing and encountering strong waves, but were “holding (theirs)” . At around 7:00 PM, the Edmund Fitzgerald sent the last radio transmission from her, and fell off Anderson’s radar shortly thereafter.

After attempting to raise the ship in its radius, the crew of the Anderson reported Edmund Fitzgerald missing and joined a search party to search for survivors. None were found, and the wreckage of the ship was later located in two pieces with the use of sonar. Almost immediately, speculation began to surface as to why the Edmund Fitzgerald had sunk and why no distress calls were issued, setting the stage for a mystery that endures to this day.

Various theories have been put forward about the wreck of the “Fitz”, as the beautiful ship was known. These theories range from suggestions that the ship had a faulty radar system and that the crew relied on faulty maps to suggestions that the hatches were not properly secured, causing the ship to take on water and eventually sink. Many of the explanations for the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald acquit the ship’s owners of blame, which may have been a ploy by shrewd public relations personnel to avoid the risk of a liability lawsuit.

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