Effort underway to save old ships
By: Mike Simonson, KUWS-Superior, Superior Telegram
A relative of a crewmember of the sunken ore carrier Edmund Fitzgerald is on a mission to save other ships that were out on the lake that night 34 years ago.
On Nov. 10, 1975, the Edmund Fitzgerald foundered on Lake Superior, taking the lives of all of its crew of 29. That night winds were clocked at 100 miles per hour and waves up to 30 feet high. Even so, the freighter Arthur M. Anderson left the safety of Whitefish Bay to search for the missing Fitzgerald.
John Soyring of Green Bay lost his uncle Buck Champeau that night. Champeau was an engineer on the Fitz. Now, Soyring wants to make sure older Great Lakes ships including the Anderson aren’t scrapped because of new federal pollution control rules. He says he can’t sit back and watch historic ships scrapped.
As part of his effort, Soyring will get to meet the watchman who was on duty on the Anderson that night. He’ll shake hands with retired watchman Bill Maki at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at a memorial ceremony.
Maki was in the pilothouse when Anderson Captain Jesse Cooper asked the crew if they should go back in the storm to search for the Fitzgerald.
Maki says the crew felt it was a duty to go out that night and make an effort to help the Edmund Fitzgerald, since it was the only loaded ship out there that night,
It’s been three decades since Maki sailed the Anderson. He hopes the ship will continue to sail the Great Lakes. He says seeing the vessel brings back memories.
For now, the new guidelines have been modified to exempt older Great Lakes freighters so the Anderson will continue sailing after 57 years.