Real-time Earth and Moon phase

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Same old 'SS Edmund Fitzgerald' tragedy. Nothing new!

This news from the Chicago Sun-Times this morning, entitled "New wave hits 'Edmund Fitzgerald'", naturally caught my attention:

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down, but singer Gordon Lightfoot says he plans to change the lyrics to his song, the "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," after researchers concluded that a gigantic, 50-foot rogue wave -- not human error -- was responsible for sinking the ship.

The Edmund Fitzgerald left Superior, Wis., on the evening of Nov. 9, 1975, bound for Zug Island, near Detroit. The next day, it encountered a fierce storm and sank. Twenty-nine lives were lost -- the greatest disaster in the history of the Great Lakes. The U.S. Coast Guard concluded that the boat sank because the crew left the cargo hatches open, allowing the holds to fill with water.

In the show "Dive Detectives," a new series for History Television, a diving team deployed wave-generating technology to simulate the conditions faced by the Edmund Fitzgerald. The tests demonstrate how the force of the freak wave, crashing down on the midsection of the boat -- already low in the water because of its heavy cargo --- might have caused it to split in two.

Lightfoot said the conclusion is "definitive." Instead of singing "at 7 p.m. a main hatchway caved in," he'll sing "at 7 p.m. it grew dark, it was then, He said, 'Fellas, it's been good to know ya.' " Scripps Howard News Service

I am a little underwhelmed by this news story. I have never thought the tragedy of Fitzgerald in 1975 was due to human error, since I always regard the official report with whatever was in it was just perfunctory, duty-bound speculations not worth of much undue attention. Now this "new" wave-generating technology simulation is simply another speculation. We don't know what had happened, and no one can recreate the condition the Fitz encountered. Remember that there were other ships went through the same condition that night safely. So we did not know what was happened to SS. Edmund Fitzgerald that night, now over 35 years later, we still don't know what had happened that night. Mr. Lightfoot can certainly entitled to change his lyrics as he wishes. The fact is that there is nothing new in this new simulation/speculation effort. And there is just nothing we can do about it either! By the way there was a fabulous hindcast study by NOAA Weather Service scientists not long ago, showing the time and location where the Fitz lost was the worst spot at the worst time as far as the storm waves can be hindcasted for that night. That should be sufficient evidence showing that Fitz's tragedy was caused by waves more than anything else. Gorden Lightfoot's new lyric "at 7pm it grew dark" is really an under statement. I really could not see this new effort as reported, while commendable, had added anything new to the knowledge base!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

PRESS RELEASE
35th Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Service
RIVER ROUGE, MICHIGAN — A memorial service is planned for Wednesday November 10, 2010 to remember the 29 men who died when the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior on Nov. 10, 1975.

The ceremony is set for 6 to 8 p.m. near the Mariners Memorial Lighthouse at Belanger Park, off Belanger Park Drive and Marion.

The event is held in River Rouge because that’s the city where the vessel was built in 1957 and ’58.

Several speakers will give their memories of the ship, including people who helped construct it and relatives of some of the deceased crewmen.

Artifacts and photographs also will be on display.

At 7:10 p.m. — the time the ship sank — a wreath will be tossed into the Detroit River. A bell will be rung 29 times in memory of each person who died.

A plaque presentation and lantern lighting is planned. Refreshments will be provided at the end.

Event organizer Roscoe Clark has a Web site devoted to the vessel, which contains several video clips, photos and new information about the ship, at www.ssEdmundFitzgerald.com

Earlier in the day, an Edmund Fitzgerald open house will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. at the River Rouge Historical Museum, 10750 W. Jefferson Ave.
www.RiverRougeMuseum.com

For more information on either event, visit the Web site or call Clark at 1-810-519-2148 or Dolores Swekel at 1-313-842-7822.

Anonymous said...

S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald 37 Year Anniversary
November 10, 2012
RIVER ROUGE — A memorial service is planned for Saturday November 10, 2012 to remember the 29 men who died when the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior on Nov. 10, 1975.
The ceremony is set for 6 to 8 p.m. and the heated tent open at 4:30 p.m. for viewing Edmund Fitzgerald artifacts, near the Mariners Memorial Lighthouse at Belanger Park, off Belanger Park Drive and Marion.
The event is held in River Rouge because that’s the city where the vessel was built in 1957 and ’58.
Several speakers will give their memories of the ship, including people who helped construct it and relatives of some of the deceased crewmen.
Artifacts, photographs and videos also will be on display and you can talk to the Fitz Ship Builders, past Crew Members and Fitz Family Members.
At 7:10 p.m. — the time the ship sank — a wreath will be tossed into the Detroit River. A bell will be rung 29 times in memory of each person who died.
A plaque presentation and lantern lighting is planned. Food and Refreshments will be provided free of charge.
Event organizer Roscoe Clark has a Web site devoted to the vessel, which contains several video clips and photos of the ship.
Earlier in the day, an Edmund Fitzgerald open house will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. at the River Rouge Historical Museum, 10750 W. Jefferson Ave.
This year, the service will be web cast free of charge for those viewers all across the US and Canada.
For more information and location call Roscoe Clark at (810) 519-2148.
This is a special program held each year and is free of charge. All new this year