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SS Edmund Fitzgerald (nicknamed "Mighty Fitz", "The Fitz" or "The Big Fitz") was a lake freighter that sank suddenly during a gale storm on Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. The ship went down without a distress signal in 530 feet (162 m) of water at 46°59.9′N 85°06.6′W / 46.9983°N 85.1100°W, in Canadian waters about 17 miles (15 nmi; 27 km) from the entrance to Whitefish Bay. All 29 members of the crew perished. Gordon Lightfoot's hit song, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald", helped make the incident the most famous disaster in the history of Great Lakes shipping.
Fitzgerald left Superior, Wisconsin on the afternoon of Sunday, November 9, 1975 under Captain Ernest M. McSorley. She was en route to the steel mill on Zug Island, near Detroit, Michigan, with a full cargo of taconite. Crossing Lake Superior at about 13 knots (15 mph/24 km/h), the boat encountered a massive winter storm, reporting winds in excess of 50 knots (58 mph; 93 km/h) and waves as high as 35 feet (10 m).
The last communication from the doomed ship came at approximately 19:10 (7:10 PM), when the nearby SS Anderson notified Fitzgerald by radio about a rogue waves large enough to be caught on radar. Captain McSorley on the Fitzgerald reported, "We are holding our own." A few minutes later, she apparently sank. No distress signal was received.
Captain and crew of a new Liberty Ship SS Booker T. Washington just after it completed its maiden voyage to England. (L-R) C. Lastic, Second Mate; T. J. Young, Midshipman; E. B. Hlubik, Midshipman; C. Blackman, Radio Operator; T. A. Smith, Chief Engineer; Hugh Mulzac, Captain of the ship; Adolphus Fokes, Chief Mate; Lt. H. Kruley; E. P. Rutland, Second Engineer; and H. E. Larson, Third Engineer." Captain Hugh Mulzac is fourth from the left on the first row. February 8, 1943.
Ships registered in U.S.: As of 2006, 465 ships of 1,000 gross register tons (GRT) or over were registered under the Flag of the United States. This amounts to a total of 10,590,325 GRT, or a capacity of 13,273,133 metric tons of deadweight (DWT). Of these, 414 are owned by American interests and 51 are owned by foreign interests. Australian owners account for 2 of these ships, Canadian 4, Danish 24, German 2, Greek 1, Malaysian 4, Dutch 4, Norwegian 2, Singaporean 2, Swedish 5, and Taiwanese 1.
U.S.-owned ships registered abroad (700): Antigua and Barbuda 7, Australia 3, Bahamas 121, Belize 5, Bermuda 27, Cambodia 8, Canada 2, Cayman Islands 41, Comoros 2, Cyprus 7, Greece 1, Honduras 1, Hong Kong 21, Ireland 2, Isle of Man 3, Italy 15, North Korea 3, South Korea 7, Liberia 93, Luxembourg 3, Malta 3, Marshall Islands 143, Netherlands 13, Netherlands Antilles 1, Norway 13, Panama 94, Peru 1, Philippines 8, Portugal 1, Puerto Rico 3, Qatar 1, Russia 1, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 21, Sierra Leone 1, Singapore 7, Spain 7, Sweden 1, Trinidad and Tobago 1, United Kingdom 6, Vanuatu 1, Wallis and Futuna 1.
Source: The 2006 CIA World Factbook which, as a US government publication, is in the public domain.