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The Fitz. November 10, 1975

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Row v. Wade, Nov 10, 2004.

  1. 29 years ago today.

    On November 9 at 7 p.m. the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a gale warning for Lake Superior. The NWS predicted east to northeasterly winds during the night, shifting to NW to N by the afternoon of November 10. At approximately 10:40 p.m. the NWS revised its forecast for eastern Lake Superior to easterly winds becoming southeasterly the morning of the 10th. At about 2:00 am November 10 the NWS upgraded the gale warning to a storm warning (winds 48-55 knots) with a prediction of "northeast winds 35 to 50 knots becoming northwesterly 28 to 38 knots on Monday, waves 8 to 15 feet". Around 2 a.m. the Captains of the Anderson and Fitzgerald discussed the threatening weather and decided to change their route. This safer route would take them northward, toward the coast of Canada. The northern route would protect them from the waves that the storm generated.
    At 3 am the winds were reported as coming from the northeast at 42 knots. The Fitzgerald and Anderson proceeded together, the Fitzgerald ahead of the Anderson. They had radio contact and the Anderson's radar located the position of the Fitzgerald.
    On the afternoon of November 10 a wind shift was evident. At 2:45 p.m. the winds had backed to NW and were 42 knots. Steady winds at 43 knots and waves of up to 12 and 16 feet were reported by the Anderson. At around this time the Fitzgerald contacted the Anderson and reported "a fence rail down, two vents lost or damaged and a list". Also around this time, the storm's fury had closed the Sault Ste. Marie locks. A shift of winds to the NW is very important, as this increased the fetch, allowing large waves to build. The Fitzgerald and Anderson were no longer protected by land.
    Late on the afternoon of the 10th, the captain of the Fitzgerald made radio contact with another ship, the Avafor, and reported that they "had a bad list, had lost both radars, and was taking heavy seas over the deck in one of the worst seas he had ever been in." Captain McSorely was a seasoned sailor of the Great Lakes with 44 years of experience.
    At 7 p.m. the Anderson made radio contact with the Fitzgerald and had her on their radar. When asked how the Fitzgerald was making out they replied "We are holding our own". This was around 7:10 p.m.. Shortly afterwards the Fitzgerald disappeared from the Anderson's radar screen.

    Rest in peace men.

    Captain Ernest M. McSorley Michael E. Armagost Fred J. Beetcher Thomas D. Bentsen Edward F. Bindon Thomas D. Borgeson Oliver J. Champeau Nolan S. Church Ransom E. Cundy Thomas E. Edwards Russell G. Haskell George J. Holl
    Bruce L. Hudson Allen G. Kalmon Gorden Maclellan Joseph Mazes
    John H. McCarthy Eugene O'Brien Karl A. Peckol John J. Poviach
    James A. Pratt Robert C. Rafferty Paul M. Rippa John D. Simmons
    William J. Spengler Mark A. Thomas Ralph G. Walton David E. Weiss
    Blaine H. Wilhelm
  2. ShakeDown

    ShakeDown OGF Staff Staff Member Admin

    Thanks for the reminder RvW.

    I sailed for a year with Oglebay Norton (MV Paul Thayer) on the Great Lakes, and I'll never forget my first day on the job. The 2nd mate took me around, showing me the engine room, pilot house, etc. after I had filled out my "can't sue us if you die" paperwork and set sail across Lake Michigan. Weather was rough that day (nothing real crazy) and the final part of my tour (before they put me to work) was taking me down into the belly of the ship, below the conveyor. There's a lighted tunnel that stretched almost the entire length of the boat. He says to me "look down the tunnel, and tell me what you see". I look, and I could see the lights appear, disappear, and reappear in the distance...the hull was twisting and bending everytime it hit a wave. Freaked me out (which was his goal), until he told me what was up. I guess the Fitz was a very stiff boat, which caused it to sink. After that, they started engineering vessels to be a little softer torsionally, allowing them to twist which absorbs alot of the shock.

    Then he stuck me with a putty knife and a poncho, and made me scrape friggin paint for what seemed like a year straight :)

    I guess what I'm saying is, the events in 1975 were tragic, and a hard lesson was learned. RIP fellas.

  3. "the hull was twisting and bending everytime it hit a wave."
    My bowels would have been emulating the hull with that sight.

    I was just a pup when the Fitz went down. 13 years old.
    I remember being glued to the TV waiting for any updates. The feeling of helplessness when the details were finally revealed.
    A sad day for sure.
  4. I saw somethign a few weeks ago about the great lakes on the discovery channell and they mentioned this ship

  5. catking

    catking Banned

    I remember it quite well. I was already out of high school and drifting around :D . This tragic happening will forever go down as one of the biggest happenings on the Great Lakes. The ship was what, 775 feet long :eek: THE CATKING !!!
  6. The Edmund Fitzgerald was christened June 8,1958 and launched (sideways) June 17 into the Detroit River. It was named after the new board chairman of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company of Milwaukee, whose grandfather and five great uncles had been ship captains.

    * * * The company had commissioned her to be built by Great Lakes Engineering Works in River Rouge, which took on 1,000 men for the job. Mrs. Edmund Fitzgerald cracked the champagne bottle across the ship's bow at the christening. Airliners, military craft, two helicopters passed overhead at the launch while yachts, sailboats, fishing boats, tugs, scows and 17 freighters assembled on the river. At 729 feet long, she was at that time the largest freighter on the great lakes. With a 75-foot beam and a depth of 39 feet, she had a load capacity of almost 30,000 tons. The vessel weighed 13,632 tons and cost $8.4 million.

    * * * The furnishings and design of the staterooms and dining room were the height of nautical fashion, with a down-cushioned sofa sectional and linen draperies across panoramic windows in the lounge. The windows overlooked nearly two city
  7. I drank a bottle of Cleveland's Edmund Fitgerald beer tonite in honour.

    And the bell at Whitefish rang 30 times today, the light at Split Rock will be lit tonite - the only nite of the year...

    Was at whitefish and UP about a month ago.

    45 knot winds - 20+ waves - easy to imagine what it was like.

    Whitefish has the orginal Bell on display and a few items found - life buoy - wood - etc.

    has some pics...
  8. I heard Gordon Lightfoot tonight on my way to my daughters basketball practice. I was thinking about it when I read the post. Memories.
  9. I thought I would bring this thread to the top, since it has been 35 years ago today that she went down. It always gives me chills thinking about it. Maybe cause I grew up in Lorain watching those big ore freighters come and go from the old Lorain Pellet Terminal and all the time I spent on Erie as a kid. Still hard to believe a ship that big went down on our Great Lakes.

    Let's all be safe out there, especially those night fishing for eyes...
  10. ShakeDown

    ShakeDown OGF Staff Staff Member Admin

    Good reminder, and great find on the thread...