35 Years, the Legend Lives On

Discussion in 'History' started by Big Fitz, Nov 10, 2010.

  1. Big Fitz
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  2. daveman
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    daveman Diamond Member

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    Such a haunting song...
     
  3. Big Fitz
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    They say the storm that hit about 2-3 weeks ago was like a blizzard without the snow. The barometric pressures on the lakes were the lowest in recorded history over lake Michigan, Huron and Erie. I checked the storm data, and they were projecting surf (which I haven't heard results from) of over 20 feet.

    That storm was a mean mamajama, but sunk no ships. And yet the one that sunk the Fitz probably was not in the top 5 of the great lakes storms.
     
  4. loosecannon
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    loosecannon Senior Member

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    20 foot seas in a 700 foot freighter is really not much more than froth. We routinely operated 100 foot fishing vessels in 20 foot seas in AK. And we wouldn't hesitate to get underway in 40 foot seas in a ship 300 feet long.

    10 foot seas are a fairly calm day on the open ocean.
     
  5. Big Fitz
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    The night the Fitz went down there were reported seas of 40-70 feet in the middle of the lake. Today's the 70th anniversary of Lake Michigan's Armistice Day storm in 1940.

    Armistice Day Blizzard - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    This is only a halfassed discussion on how bad the storm was on lake Michigan, considered one of the top storms of all time.

    For the biggest badass storm IMHO, this is the one.

    Great Lakes Storm of 1913 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Oh but check this out for what is now being called "The Chiclone of 2010"

    It's amazing no ships sank.
     
  6. Big Fitz
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    And don't forget, freshwater is more destructive than salt water because it is less dense and can build up higher. A statistic proved by stress gauges on the Edward L. Ryerson in the mid 70s when it sailed through the same blow that sank the Fitz. Higher stress levels were recorded than were ever possible during a cat 5 hurricane in the ocean on the hull.
     
  7. loosecannon
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    loosecannon Senior Member

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    salt water is only 3% more dense than freshwater, and your point would still be false even if it were 30% denser.

    Density of Ocean Water

    But more on point reports of the storm that sank the EF seem to support swells of 35 max, just a mild storm for the North Pacific. The EF was built for flat water. Even the 1913 storm was weenie compared to what happens routinely in the ocean.

    The EF may have broken up merely because she was riding in the trough with the direction of the wind, something that every open ocean captain on Earth would know to avoid in very heavy weather. In fact in the open ocean ships (built for the ocean) are safest in deep water, and will ordinarily change course and reduce speeds to only a few knots during extreme weather. Unless of course they are large enough craft to be unaffected by the weather. The EF appears to have done neither. Those lake captains just don't know how to deal with what is ordinary across 2/3 of the earth's surface.

    I have done wheel watches in 300 foot ships in 40 foot seas and we rode in the trough and didn't bother to slow down. 40 foot seas are just not that threatening to a ship of that size made for that kind of stress. The EF was about 5-7 times as massive a craft. But was built for flat water.
     
  8. Old Rocks
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  9. Big Fitz
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    Tell that to the sailors and companies who sail them. I'm just passing on stuff I've read in books on Great Lakes Storms, shipping and disasters. No they're not online as they're old.

    The three theories regarding the sinking of the Fitz was that She had taken damage possibly by scraping the nearby shoals which caused enough weakening in the hull that the storm action broke her apart. The power cut from the engine to the forecastle bridge in the Hackett style freighter would instantly render her radio inoperative, just like the Daniel J. Morell which went down in similar circumstances in 1967 IIRC.

    The Arthur M. Anderson which was in radar and radio contact with the Fitz, experienced a phenomenon known to the lakes called "The Three Sisters". These are a series of three massive waves, often rogue that can usually by themselves smash a ship. It is possible that two of the 'sisters' were close enough together that they literally lifted the Fitz out of the water at both ends and the weight of the load snapped the ship in twain instantly.

    The last theory is that because the Fitz was such a long ship, and the seas were pushing such heights that with a critical loss of buoyancy due to previous damage at the shoals, and the loss of two hatch covers, combined with the three sisters, she was pushed down on her bow, and her own engine on the wave front drove her into the bottom of the lake snapping her and instantly sending her under.

    If you are familiar with the great lakes, you're right, generally they are far less touched by wave action, having no tides and a much smaller bowl of soup to sail in. But what you are not taking into account is that they are much shallower, with lighter water (3% seems to be just enough, regardless to what your numbers come back with) can be driven into a bigger fuss faster through wind. So the squalls are often far more violent and punishing to crafts. It is a known quotient that when salties get caught in storms on the great lakes, there are always more than a couple experienced sailors who get sea sick where they never do even during the strongest hurricane. This is due to the fact that the wave action does not roll or foam, cushioning the blow on the ship like the ocean does. That foaming action causes the wave to roll, and the trapped air acts like an airbag to a certain extent, extending and slowing down the transfer of energy. So instead of getting slapped with a high impulse, it is slower and gentler to the ship.

    Also, as has been the tradition of Lake built ships, they are just as strong and ready for ocean storms as any vessel built for trans oceanic work. Many oceangoing ships are built in the Great Lakes, and many great lake vessels are sold off to trans ocean work after doing a few years on the lakes. The Mesabi Miner for instance was built in Scotland, or at least it's fore and aft sections, the middle was built in a Canadian yard at Collingwood. So don't be poo-pooing our 1000 footers.

    And as for our captains here, they operate with tighter clearances and more unstable conditions with more traffic than most areas of the globe. Remember, the Soo canal is the busiest ditch in the world, doing up to double the traffic of the Suez and Panama Canals. Duluth and Detroit are two of the busiest ports in the world behind Long Beach, NYC and Seattle, that's all.

    So, please, this is meant to be a fun thread, not a pissing contest. Start your own pissing contest if you wanna brag about your sea going splendor. I shan't be joining you there.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2010
  10. zzzz
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    zzzz Just a regular American

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