Deepest shipwreck ever found in the Great Lakes

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Deepest shipwreck ever found in the Great Lakes

October 11, 2013 - 19:39

The 424-foot SS Scotiadoc which sank after colliding with another freighter in June 1953 has been found at a depth of 850 feet.

The Great Lakes freighter SS Scotiadoc was previously named Martin Mullen. Here depicted in Houghton, Michigan, c. 1906

The same team who located Henry B. Smith in May have now found what may be the deepest shipwreck in Lake Superior.

The Scotiadoc departed Port Arthur, Ontario—part of what’s now Thunder Bay—with a crew of 29 and nearly 260,000 bushels of wheat just before 4 p.m. on June 20, 1953.

At that time, the 451-foot freighter Burlington was passing Passage Island, in ballast en route to Port Arthur, according to documents from a post-wreck court of investigation.

Captain George Edgar Morris testified that he picked up the Burlington on radar when it was five miles away. The Burlington collided with the starboard side of the Scotiadoc near the stern. One crew member died.

The ship rests upright, and largely intact near Trowbridge Island, about 20 miles southeast of Thunder Bay, with the bow at a depth of 850 feet and the stern at 870 feet.

The court of investigation later found the Scotiadoc 75 percent to blame for the collision, and the Burlington 25 percent—with poor communication and excessive speed given the weather conditions as contributing factors. Captain Morris of the Scotiadoc had his master's certificate suspended for a year; Captain Ward of the Burlington had his certificate suspended for two months.

Finding the wreck
Jerry Eliason of Cloquet, part of the group that had searched for the Scotiadoc for years, told the Scotiadoc first came to the group's attention as they searched for the Theano, another shipwreck in the area.

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