29 victims honored on anniversary of Fitzgerald shipwreck

29 victims honored on anniversary of Fitzgerald shipwreck

Mariners’ Church of Detroit is observing the 45th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald during its yearly memorial service for those who have died in Great Lakes shipwrecks. “We remember the 29 men who lost their lives on the waters of Lake Superior,” the church said in a Facebook post Tuesday.

This underwater photo of the sunken SS Edmund Fitzgerald was taken by an unmanned submersible robot, as a research team investigates the wreck site 17 miles northwest of Whitefish Point, Mich., on August 24, 1989.

STEVEN WAYNE ROTSCH/AP

The church will live-stream a service on Facebook for the first time, said the Rev. Jeffrey M. Hubbard, rector at the church also known as “The Maritime Sailors’ Cathedral.”

“This year, we’re especially mindful of the challenges first responders face in protecting our freedom, our rights and our health,” Hubbard said. “That includes all the current and past sailors who ply the Great Lakes waterways. As beautiful as they are, the Great Lakes can be incredibly dangerous. This service honors and remembers those who have perished over the centuries.”

More than 10,000 lives have been lost in the roughly 6,000 shipwrecks on record in the five inland seas.

The S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald sank Nov. 10, 1975, during a storm on Lake Superior. The vessel was carrying a load of iron ore pellets to a Detroit steel mill when it plunged to the bottom 17 miles from Whitefish Point in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. All 29 crewmen were lost.

A 1959 file photo shows the Great Lakes freighter Edmund Fitzgerald, which disappeared Nov. 10, 1975, in a storm on Lake Superior.

/ AP

The Rev. Richard Ingalls, then pastor of Mariners’ Church, rang its “brotherhood bell” 29 times to honor them as described in Gordon Lightfoot’s ballad, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” As is customary, it will be rung again during the Sunday memorial.

The service at the 178-year-old church regularly attracts sailors, veterans, recreational boaters and their families. Those wishing to attend this year must email the church beforehand at infomarinerschurchofdetroit.org because of social distancing requirements.

The wreck was immortalized by Canadian singer Gordon Lightfoot’s famous song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”