Tonight I talk about the wreck of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald
The Edmund Fitzgerald is loaded with taconite pellets at Burlington Northern Railroad, Dock 1. Superior, Wisconsin The ship is scheduled to transport the cargo to Zug Island on the Detroit River.
The Fitzgerald departs Lake Superior en route of Detroit with 26,116 tons of taconite pellets.
The National Weather Service issues gale warnings for the area which the Fitzgerald is sailing in. Captain Cooper on the Anderson radios a freighter (the Edmund Fitzgerald) that he spots.
The Fitzgerald spots the Arthur M. Anderson some 15 miles behind it.
Weather report from the Fitzgerald.
The report from the Fitzgerald shows her to be 20 miles south of Isle Royale. Winds are at 52 knots, with waves ten feet in height.
Weather report from the Fitzgerald.
Winds are at 35 knots, waves of ten feet. This is the last weather report that the Edmund Fitzgerald will ever make.
Captain Jesse Cooper, (J.C.) of the S.S. Arthur M. Anderson watches the Fitzgerald round Caribou Island and comments that the Fitzgerald is much closer to Six Fathom Shoal than he would want to be.
Anderson reports winds coming from the Northwest at 43 knots.
Radio transmission between the Fitzgerald and the Anderson
Captain McSorley (C.M.) to Captain Cooper (C.C.):
C.M.: “Anderson, this is the Fitzgerald. I have sustained some topside damage. I have a fence rail laid down, two vents lost or damaged, and a list. I'm checking down. Will you stay by me til I get to Whitefish?”
C.C.: “Charlie on that Fitzgerald. Do you have your pumps going?”
C.M.: “Yes, both of them
The Fitzgerald radios the Arthur M. Anderson requesting radar assistance for the remainder of the voyage.
Fitzgerald: “Anderson, this is the Fitzgerald. I have lost both radars. Can you provide me with radar plots till we reach Whitefish Bay?”
Anderson: “Charlie on that, Fitzgerald. We'll keep you advised of position.”
About 4:39 PM
The Fitzgerald cannot pick up the Whitefish Point radio beacon. The Fitzgerald radios the Coast Guard station at Grand Marais on Channel 16, the emergency channel.
Between 4:30 and 5:00 PM
The Edmund Fitzgerald calls for any vessel in the Whitefish Point area regarding information about the beacon and light at Whitefish Point. They receive an answer by the saltwater vessel Avafors that the beacon and the light are not operating.
Estimated between 5:30 and 6:00 PM
Radio transmission between the Avafors and the Fitzgerald.
Avafors: “Fitzgerald, this is the Avafors. I have the Whitefish light now but still am receiving no beacon. Over.”
Fitzgerald: “I'm very glad to hear it.”
Avafors: “The wind is really howling down here. What are the conditions where you are?”
Fitzgerald: (Undiscernable shouts heard by the Avafors.) “DON'T LET NOBODY ON DECK!”
Avafors: “What's that, Fitzgerald? Unclear. Over.”
Fitzgerald: “I have a bad list, lost both radars. And am taking heavy seas over the deck. One of the worst seas I've ever been in.”
Avafors: “If I'm correct, you have two radars.”
Fitzgerald: “They're both gone.”
Sometime around 7:00 PM
The Anderson is struck by two huge waves that put water on the ship, 35 feet above the water line. The waves hit with enough force to push the starboard lifeboat down, damaging the bottom.
Radio transmission between the Anderson and the Fitzgerald. The Fitzgerald is still being followed by the Arthur M. Anderson. They are about 10 miles behind the Fitzgerald.
Anderson: “Fitzgerald, this is the Anderson. Have you checked down?”
Fitzgerald: “Yes we have.”
Anderson: “Fitzgerald, we are about 10 miles behind you, and gaining about 1 1/2 miles per hour. Fitzgerald, there is a target 19 miles ahead of us. So the target would be 9 miles on ahead of you.”
Fitzgerald: “Well, am I going to clear?”