Edmund Fitzgerald Sinking Theory



Ada: I was just making a general statement. I had no one in mind when I posted. If I had to name names there wouldn’t be enough time and space to include everybody.
Aug 10, 2014
Portsmouth, VA USA
The story of the loss of the Fitz is a lot more complicated than just a simple storm knockdown. It goes right back to the original design of that class of ships and continues through maintenance over the years and a large does on "blind eyes" on the part of inspectors and regulators. I know men who served in that ship and the stories they tell of the limber hull (eg. "she bent so bad in that storm I could read the name on the starboard bow out the port side window of my aft cabin") I have seen pictures taken inside the ratway leading fore 'n aft from bow to stern showing the hull so hogged you could not see over the "hill" in the middle. A lawyer for the company told me it was common for the ship to bend enough to stretch the electric power cables servicing the radar on the bridge. The cables would snap and have to be repaired at the next port, or that was his story. I've talked with men who crawled the double bottom just before that fatal year and found, in their words, as much wasted (rusted to loss of strength) steel than good. The Fitz was due to be in drydock for a overall rebuild that October. She sank in November. That was the result of the government and company agreed upon "just one more trip." Why the ship was loaded beyond safety limits imposed by the condition of the hull has never been fully answered. So, those men sailed on one last trip under a captain noted for being a "company man."

Ring the bell in that musty cathedral (i'ts not, I've been there, too) and thump your chests everyone involved about how brave the men who died that day. To me it was and remains a kind of government/corporate premeditated murder. That ship was not good and it was not true. It was overloaded and too limber. But, Gordon Lightfoot (met him on his sailboat, too) did a magnificent job with the song.

-- David G. Brown
Hi David,

I found it interesting that you mentioned premeditated murder with regard to the loss of the Fitzgerald's crew. I was doing a little research on that and I found this publication that discusses "seaman's manslaughter". Interestingly, the standard for manslaughter under this statute is lower than that of common-law manslaughter. CLM requires that gross negligence and/or heat of passion without malice be proven in order to sustain a manslaughter charge:

-Michael Kitchens


Jul 21, 2020
Florida Panhandle
David, your information on the flexibility of the ship is interesting to me as I have not heard that before. I have heard that she was in desperate need of work and was know as a "wet ship" below.
There is an interesting video of the USS United States, now a rusting hulk on the east coast, but in the video you can hear the hull flex and groan under the waves in the port. Kind of creepy..
The banging sound I saw in a video a while back is definitely haunting.