Sunday, November 10, 2013

When the gales of November come early

Twenty-nine lives were lost 38 years ago today.  I don't know why I am so fascinated by the tale of the Edmund Fitzgerald, but I am.  And nothing better to serve as tribute than the ballad by Gordon Lightfoot.


  1. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. the Fitz was a poorly maintained boat that had been modified to hold way more taconite than it was meant to. People who served on it knew it made funny noises and had abnormal levels of flex in the hull that could be felt in waves and whenever thy tried to get it to turn. it's too bad the shipping company was able to blame the catastrophic hull failure on the captain crew and weather, thus avoiding the sort of payout that the families of the crew deserved.

  3. NTSB report on the Edmund Fitzgerald sinking

    $$$ Required freeboard had been reduced by 39 and 1/4" by three different regulation rewrites in the preceeding six years. (page 8 linked pdf)

    $$$ Exemption granted to Edmund Fitzgerald on the minimum required elevation of hold vents above weather deck after the last freeboard reduction. (page 8 linked pdf)

    $$$ The cargo hold hatch covers not designed for conditions encountered (page 16 linked pdf)

    $$$ Design features caused over 15 inches of water to be retained on the entire deck at all times during the storm conditions encountered. This had the same effect as lowering the Edmund Fitzgerald's freeboard another 15 inches. (page 16 linked pdf)

    $$$ The design of the cargo hold permitted complete flooding due to lack of watertight compartmentalization. (page 17 linked pdf)

    $$$ Design features of the cargo hold prevented pumping water from the hold when carrying taconite. (page 17 linked pdf)

    $$$ Design features did not allow ship's personnel to monitor cargo hold flooding when loaded and in bad weather conditions. (page 17 linked pdf)

    RIP Michael E. Armagost 37
    Frederick J. Beetcher 56
    Thomas D. Bentsen 23
    Edward F. Bindon 47
    Thomas D. Borgeson 41
    Oliver J. Champeau 41
    Nolan S. Church 55
    Ransom E. Cundy 53
    Thomas E. Edwards 50
    Russell G. Haskell 40
    George J. Holl 60
    Bruce L. Hudson 22
    Allen G. Kalmon 43
    Gordon F. MacLellan 30
    Joseph W. Mazes 59
    John H. McCarthy 62
    Ernest M. McSorley 63
    Eugene W. O'Brien 50
    Karl A. Peckol 20
    John J. Poviach 59
    James A. Pratt 44
    Robert C. Rafferty 62
    Paul M. Riippa 22
    John D. Simmons 63
    William J. Spengler 59
    Mark A. Thomas 21
    Ralph G. Walton 58
    David E. Weiss 22
    Blaine H. Wilhelm 52