That's right, the one from the song.
The SS Edmund Fitzgerald was an American Great Lakes freighter that made headlines after sinking in a Lake Superior storm on November 10, 1975, with the loss of the entire crew of 29. When launched on June 8, 1958, she was the largest boat on North America's Great Lakes, and she remains the largest boat to have sunk there. Nicknamed the "Mighty Fitz", "Fitz", or "Big Fitz", the ship suffered a series of mishaps during her launch: it took three attempts to break the champagne bottle used to christen her, and she collided with a pier when she entered the water.
For seventeen years the Fitzgerald carried taconite iron ore from mines near Duluth, Minnesota, to iron works in Detroit, Toledo, and other Great Lakes ports. As a "workhorse" she set seasonal haul records six times, often beating her own previous record. Her size, record-breaking performance, and "DJ captain" endeared the Fitzgerald to boat watchers. Captain Peter Pulcer was known for piping music day or night over the ship's intercom system while passing through the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers (between Lakes Huron and Erie), and entertaining spectators at the Soo Locks (between Lakes Superior and Huron) with a running commentary about the Fitzgerald.
Carrying a full cargo of taconite ore pellets with Captain Ernest M. McSorley in command, the Edmund Fitzgerald embarked on her final voyage from Superior, Wisconsin (near Duluth), on the afternoon of November 9, 1975. En route to a steel mill near Detroit, Michigan, she joined a second freighter, the SS Arthur M. Anderson. By the next day the two ships were caught in the midst of a massive winter storm on Lake Superior, with near hurricane-force winds and waves up to 35 feet (11 m) high. Shortly after 7:10 p.m. the Fitzgerald suddenly sank in Canadian waters 530 feet (160 m) deep, approximately 17 miles (15 nautical miles; 27 kilometers) from the entrance to Whitefish Bay near the twin cities of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Although the Fitzgerald had reported being in difficulty earlier, no distress signals were sent before she sank. Her crew of 29 all perished, and no bodies were recovered.
Many theories, books, studies and expeditions have examined the cause of the sinking. The Fitzgerald may have fallen victim to the high waves of the storm, suffered structural failure, been swamped with water entering through her cargo hatches or deck, experienced topside damage, or shoaled in a shallow part of Lake Superior. The sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald is one of the best-known disasters in the history of Great Lakes shipping. Gordon Lightfoot made it the subject of his 1976 hit song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald".
Investigations into the sinking led to changes in Great Lakes shipping regulations and practices that included mandatory survival suits, depth finders, positioning systems, increased freeboard, and more frequent inspection of vessels.
From May 20 to 28, 1976, the U.S. Navy dived the wreck using its unmanned submersible, CURV-III, and found the Fitzgerald lying in two large pieces in 530 feet (160 m) of water. Navy estimates put the length of the bow section at 276 feet (84 m) and that of the stern section at 253 feet (77 m). The bow section stood upright in the mud, some 170 feet (52 m) from the stern section that lay face down at a 50-degree angle from the bow. The ship's midsection had been reduced to heaps of metal and taconite.
In 1980, during a Lake Superior research dive expedition, marine explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of Jacques Cousteau, sent two divers from the RV Calypso in the first manned submersible dive to the Fitzgerald. The dive was brief, and although the dive team drew no final conclusions, they speculated that the Fitzgerald had broken up on the surface.
The Michigan Sea Grant Program organized a three-day dive to survey the Fitzgerald in 1989. The primary objective was to record 3-D videotape for use in museum educational programs and production of documentaries. The expedition used a towed survey system (TSS Mk1) and a self-propelled, tethered, free swimming remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV). The Mini Rover ROV was equipped with miniature stereoscopic cameras and wide angle lenses in order to produce 3-D images. The towed survey system and the Mini Rover ROV were designed, built and operated by Chris Nicholson of Deep Sea Systems International, Inc. Participants included the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Geographic Society, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (GLSHS), and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the latter providing the RV Grayling as the support vessel for the ROV. The GLSHS used part of the five hours of video footage produced during the dives in a documentary and the National Geographic Society used a segment in a broadcast. Frederick Stonehouse, who wrote one of the first books on the Fitzgerald wreck, moderated a 1990 panel review of the video that drew no conclusions about the cause of the Fitzgerald's sinking.
Canadian explorer Joseph B. MacInnis organized and led six publicly funded dives to the Fitzgerald over a three-day period in 1994. Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution provided the Edwin A. Link as the support vessel, and their manned submersible, the Celia. The GLSHS paid $10,000 for three of its members to each join a dive and take still pictures. MacInnis concluded that the notes and video obtained during the dives did not provide an explanation why the Fitzgerald sank. The same year, longtime sport diver Fred Shannon formed Deepquest Ltd., and organized a privately funded dive to the wreck of the Fitzgerald, using Delta Oceanographic's submersible Delta. Deepquest Ltd. conducted seven dives and took more than 42 hours of underwater video while Shannon set the record for the longest submersible dive to the Fitzgerald at 211 minutes. Prior to conducting the dives, Shannon studied NOAA navigational charts and found that the international boundary had changed three times before its publication by NOAA in 1976. Shannon determined that based on GPS coordinates from the 1994 Deepquest expedition, "at least one-third of the two acres of immediate wreckage containing the two major portions of the vessel is in U.S. waters because of an error in the position of the U.S.–Canada boundary line shown on official lake charts."
Shannon's group discovered the remains of a crew member wearing a life jacket lying alongside the bow of the ship, indicating that at least one of the crew was aware of the possibility of sinking. The life jacket had deteriorated canvas and "what is thought to be six rectangular cork blocks ... clearly visible." Shannon concluded that "massive and advancing structural failure" caused the Fitzgerald to break apart on the surface and sink.
MacInnis led another series of dives in 1995 to salvage the bell from the Fitzgerald. The Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians backed the expedition by co-signing a loan in the amount of $250,000.Canadian engineer Phil Nuytten's atmospheric diving suit, known as the "Newtsuit", was used to retrieve the bell from the ship, replace it with a replica, and put a beer can in the Fitzgerald's pilothouse. That same year, Terrence Tysall and Mike Zee set multiple records when they used trimix gas to scuba dive to the Fitzgerald. The pair are the only people known to have touched the Fitzgerald wreck. They also set records for the deepest scuba dive on the Great Lakes and the deepest shipwreck dive, and were the first divers to reach the Fitzgerald without the aid of a submersible. It took six minutes to reach the wreck, six minutes to survey it, and three hours to resurface to avoid decompression sickness, also known as "the bends".