Commemorating the Edmund Fitzgerald Anniversary of Advances in Shipping Technology

TO HAVNE, MN. (Northern News Now) — Since the tragedy of the Edmund Fitzgerald, the shipping industry in the Great Lakes has improved, ensuring that something like this will never happen again.

On November 10, 1975, the Edmund Fitzgerald was hit by a vicious storm while out on Lake Superior.

“It ended up losing some radar equipment, some beacons, and it kind of lurched to stay in safe harbor,” said Hayes Scriven, Split Rock Lighthouse site manager.

Within minutes, all radar signal on the Fitzgerald was lost and the ship sank, taking the lives of the 29 crew members.

“It happened in 1975, that’s not long ago,” Scriven said.

About 1,200 people surrounded the Split Rock Lighthouse Friday and watched it light up the North Shore during an annual ceremony.

But it was that sad day 48 years ago that changed the way inspections are carried out on ships before they hit open water.

“There are a lot of regulations that came from incidents like the Edmund Fitzgerald,” said Jarrod Dewitz, the commanding officer of the Marine Safety Unit in Duluth. “We learned that the waterproof envelope is critical.”

When it was learned that the Fitzgerald was sailing blind across the lake when the radar signal was lost, additional tools were also added to ships. And with the help of advanced technology, the occupants can be sure of where they are.

“We have ECDIS now, which is an electronic chart system that allows real-time navigation for depth, collision avoidance, that kind of thing on board,” Dewitz said.

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The memory of Edmund Fitzgerald lives on through new security measures and ceremonies like the one held at Two Harbors.

“It’s up to us to provide a little bit of comfort in any way, it means a lot,” Scriven said. “Just remember history and not try to have a similar incident down the line.”

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