Death Of A King Essay Research Paper

Death Of A King Essay, Research Paper

Dock 1


Since commercial shipping began on the five Great Lakes, there have

Been six thousand shipwrecks. Half have never been found. There are three storms

The sailors still talk about:

The great storm of 1913 claimed 250 lives and 12 ships.

The storm of 1940 claimed 100 lives and two ships.

The storm of 1975 claimed only one ship and 29 lives.

The wreck of 1975 remains the most mysterious and controversial of all shipwreck tales heard around the Great Lakes. The legend of the Edmund Fitzgerald is surpassed in books, and film and media only by that of the Titanic. Its mystery even led Canadian folksinger Gordon Lightfoot to write a ballad about the vessel, ?the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,? which in turn inspired popular interest in the story and the ship.

Here I think would be a good place to look at some background regarding the ship. The S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald was conceived as a business enterprise of the Northern Mutual Insurance Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Northern Mutual contracted with Great Lakes Engineering Works of Ecorse, Michigan to construct a ?maximum sized? Great Lakes bulk carrier. The keel was laid on August 7, 1957 as hull no. 301.

The ship was named after the President and Chairman of the board of Northern Mutual, and the Fitzgerald was launched June 8, 1958 at River Rouge, Michigan. Northern Mutual placed the ship under permanent charter to the Columbia Transportation Division of Oglebay Norton Company, Cleveland, Ohio. At 729 feet long, 75 feet wide and 13,632 gross tons, the ship was the largest ship on the Great Lakes, for thirteen years, until 1971.

The Fitzgerald’s normal coarse during its productive life took it between Silver Bay, Minnesota, where she loaded taconite, to steel mills on the lower lakes in the Detroit

Dock 2

And Toledo area. It was usually empty on its return trip to Silver Bay.

(Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum?

On November 9, 1975 Fitzgerald was to transport a load of taconite from Superior, Wisconsin, to Zug Island, Detroit, Michigan. Not Cleveland, as referenced to in the song by Gordon Lightfoot. The final voyage of the Edmund Fitzgerald began at the Burlington Northern Railroad Dock No. 1, Superior, Wisconsin. Captain Ernest M McSorly had loaded it with 26,116 long tons of taconite pellets, made of processed iron ore, heated and rolled into marble-size balls.

(Nautical Works?

Departing Superior about 4:30pm, Fitzgerald was soon joined by the Arhtur M. Anderson, which had departed two Harbors, Minnesota under Captain Bernie Cooper. The two ships were in radio contact. The Fitzgerald being the faster took the lead, with the distance between them ranging from 10 to 15 miles. Aware of a building November storm entering the Great Lakes from the great plains, Captain McSorley and Captain Cooper decided to take the northerly course across Lake Superior, where they would be protected by highlands on the Canadian shore. This route would take them between Isle Royale and the Keweenaw Peninsula, where they would make a turn to the southeast to eventually reach the shelter of Whitefish Point.

Weather conditions continued to deteriorate. Gale warnings were upgraded to storm warnings by 7pm on November 9. On the morning of November 10,

Winds were gusting to 50 knots and seas were 12 to 16 feet. While the storm was very severe, both Captains were experienced in this type of conditions.

Captain Cooper maintained that he watched the Edmund Fitzgerald pass far to close to Six Fathom Shoal to the north of Caribou Island. He and his officers watched the Fitzgerald pass right over the dangerous area of shallow water. By 3:30pm the Fitzgerald was already in trouble. Captain McSorley radioed Captain Cooper and said: ?Anderson, this is the Fitzgerald. I have a fence rail down, two vents lost or damaged, and a list. I?m checking down. Will you stay by me till I get to Whitefish??


Dock 3

McSorley was checking down his speed to the Anderson to close the distance for safety.

Captain Cooper asked McSorley if he had his pumps going, and McSorley responded,?yes, both of them.? As the afternoon wore on no extraordinary reports were radioed to the Anderson. At about 5:20pm the crest of a wave smashed the Anderson?s starboard lifeboat, making it unusable. Captain Cooper reported winds from the NW x W (305) at a steady 58 knots with gusts to 70 knots, and seas of 18 to 25 feet.

According to Captain Cooper, about 6:55pm, he and the men in the Anderson?s pilothouse felt a ?bump?, felt the ship lurch, and then turned to see a monstrous wave engulfing their entire vessel from astern. The wave worked its way along the deck, crashing on the back of the pilothouse, driving the bow of the Anderson down into the sea. ? then the Anderson just raised up and shook itself off of all that water, just like a big dog. Another wave just like the first one or bigger hit us again. I watched those two waves head down the lake towards the Fitzgerald, and I think those were the two that sent him under.? (

Luck was not with the ship or the crew. The radar system and its backup failed. The storm took out the power to Whitefish Point?s light and radio beacon.

Though the light was brought back on line, the radio beacon was not.


Morgan Clark, first mate of the Anderson, kept watching the Fitzgerald on the radar set to calculate its distance from come other vessels near Whitefish Point. The seas were so high, he kept losing sight of the Fitzgerald on the radar due to sea return, the seas were interfering with the radar reflection. Clark spoke to the Fitzgerald one last time, about 7:10pm:

* ?Fitzgerald, this is the Anderson. Have you checked down??

* ?Yes, we have.?

* ?Fitzgerald, we are about 10 miles behind you, and gaining about

11/2 miles per hour. Fitzgerald, there is a target 19 miles ahead of us.

* So the target would be 9 miles on ahead of you.?

* ?Yes he is going to pass to the west of you.?

Dock 4

* ?Well fine.?

* ?By the way, Fitzgerald, how are you making out with your

problems?? asked Clark.

* ?We are holding our own.?

* ?Okay, fine, I?ll be talking to you later.? Clark signed off.


The radar signal of the Fitzgerald kept getting obscured by sea return.

At about 7:15pm, the radar signal was lost again, however this time it did not reappear.

Clark called the Fitzgerald again at about 7:22pm. There was no answer.

After making a call to the Coast Guard, at about 8:00pm, Captain Cooper radioed the Coast Guard for a second time, and with mounting apprehension, Captain Cooper firmly expressed his concern for the welfare of the Edmund Fitzgerald. At that the search was initiated for the missing ship. After making the safety of Whitefish Bay, the Coast Guard radioed to the Anderson, if they dare go back out to search for the Fitzgerald. After some concern, The Anderson turned around and headed to the last sited area of the doomed ship. The Anderson turned out to be the primary vessel in the search. Only one other ship, the William Clay Ford, was able to leave the safety of Whitefish Bay to join the search.

With the ship pounding and rolling badly, the crew of the Anderson discovered the Fitzgerald?s two lifeboats and other debris but no survivors. The Coast Guard launched other equipment for the search, to no avail. On November 14, a U.S Navy plane equipped with a magnetic anomaly detector located a strong contact 17 miles north-northwest of Whitefish Point. The ship was found in two pieces, broken in half.

The ship was lost along with all 29 men aboard.

What happened to the ship is where the controversy and mystique about the ship comes into. Some say the two waves that rocked the Anderson, Picked up the Fitzgerald, and bottomed it out, bow first, breaking it in half, taking everyone aboard to the bottom of Lake Superior so fast. Others say the hatch closures were not closed correctly. Either way, we?ll never know what really happened that stormy tragic night, of November 10, 1975.

Dock 5

Surviving relatives of the Fitzgerald?s crew requested that the bell be recovered to serve as a memorial to the 29 crew members who lost their lives. What makes the bell a fitting symbol, is that a ships bell is considered the ?heart of a ship? because, traditionally, the bell was used to sound the time every half hour, to change the watch (every 4hours), to summon sailors to meals, and to serve as a warning signal whenever the ship was in fog of or other foul weather. Oglebay-Norton, the company that operated the Fitzgerald, maintained the traditional seafaring practice of sounding the watch with the ship?s bell on all of its ships even though the practiced was no longer needed. Because the Fitzgerald?s bell was ?lovingly polished? and used daily, it is a fitting symbol to honor the ship?s crew.

After permits were granted by the Canadian government, the ship lays in Canadian waters, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Society began planning the complex recovery effort. On July 4, 1995 the bell and its stanchion were recovered, using a Newtsuit Atmospheric Dive System, from the top of the Fitzgerald?s pilot house where the ship rests 530 feet below the surface of Lake Superior 17 miles from Whitefish Point.

A replica brass bell, inscribed with Edmund Fitzgerald and names of all 29 men who perished, was placed on the pilot house where the original bell had been mounted.

During a ceremony on July 7, the bell was presented to Candice Miller, Michigan?s Secretary of State, by Dianne Cunningham, Ontario?s Minister of Intergovernmental affairs. The bell then was presented to the relatives of the Fitzgerald?s

Crew. The bell was rung 30 times in memoriam, once for each of the 29 Fitzgerald crew and once for all mariners who have lost their lives at sea.



Death of a king is about the Edmund Fitzgerald, a good reserch paper,earned an A


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