The SS Edmund Fitzgerald was a beloved American freighter that sailed the Great Lakes for 17 years, setting season transportation records six times and captivating boat watchers with its size and performance. On November 10, 1975, it tragically sank in Lake Superior during a storm, taking its entire crew of 29 men with it. The sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald is one of the most well-known disasters in the history of Great Lakes shipping, inspiring Gordon Lightfoot's 1976 hit song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”.The tragedy caused changes in maritime regulations and practices of the Great Lakes, including mandatory survival suits, depth finders, positioning systems, increased freeboarding, and more frequent inspections of ships. Despite these changes, diving to the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald is still prohibited due to an Ontario Heritage Act regulation.
It is very difficult to obtain a license or permit to dive on the Edmund Fitzgerald, and there is a very large fine for diving without a license. The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald is located at the bottom of the southeastern part of Lake Superior, in 530 feet of water. Diver Kiki Bosch is an example of apparent immunity to the cold, diving in Arctic waters wearing only a swimsuit. The rebel wave hypothesis suggests that it was specifically giant waves that caused the Edmund Fitzgerald to sink. Divers have broken records for deeper diving in the Great Lakes and for deeper shipwrecks, and were the first divers to reach Edmund Fitzgerald without the aid of a submersible. Even at a depth of 530 feet from the wreck, it might be safer to dive without the support of dive tanks than to dive there.
The USCG, NTSB and advocates of alternative theories have mentioned multiple possible factors that contributed to the collapse of Edmund Fitzgerald. These include ineffective closing of hatches and Morrell's 1966 suggestion that ships should be able to reach shelter or at least allow crew members to leave in an orderly manner. The wreck tempts many divers because it's only a mile from the Duluth Naval Canal and no one has ever freedived before. Examples include static apnea (breathing retention on the surface), constant weight without fins (diving without the aid of fins) and freediving without limits (diving deeper with weighted sledges along a dive line). It would be possible to dive to the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald with just one breath. We may not have included everything there is to know about this tragic event in this single post, but you can learn even more about it from the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society.
In 1976, Ontario singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot wrote, composed and recorded his song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” for his album Summertime Dream. The SS Edmund Fitzgerald rocks the rough waters of Mighty Superior, followed by SS Arthur M. Anderson. The sinking of SS Edmund Fitzgerald was a tragedy that changed maritime regulations and practices on Great Lakes forever. It also inspired Gordon Lightfoot's 1976 hit song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”.
Diving to this wreck is still prohibited due to an Ontario Heritage Act regulation but it tempts many divers due to its proximity to Duluth Naval Canal. There are multiple possible factors that contributed to its collapse such as ineffective closing of hatches or giant waves according to rebel wave hypothesis. Divers have broken records for deeper diving in Great Lakes and for deeper shipwrecks but it would be safer to dive without support from dive tanks than diving there.