Shipwreck hunters have discovered a merchant ship that sank in Lake Superior in 1940, taking its captain with it, during a storm off Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society and shipwreck researcher Dan Fountain announced Monday the discovery of the 244-foot (74-meter) bulk carrier Arlington in about 650 feet (200 meters) of water about 35 miles (60 kilometers) offshore. northern Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan. .
The Arlington departed Port Arthur, Ontario, on April 30, 1940, fully loaded with wheat and headed for Owen Sound, Ontario, under the command of Captain Frederick “Tatey Bug” Burke, a Great Lakes veteran.
But as the Arlington and a larger freighter, the Collingwood, crossed Lake Superior, they encountered dense fog and then an after-dark storm that battered both ships. The Arlington began to take on water.
The ship’s first officer ordered the Arlington to set a course to hug the northern Canadian coast, which would have provided some protection from wind and waves, but Burke overruled the order and ordered his ship to return to a course across the open lake, the discoverers said.
Early on May 1, 1940, the Arlington began to sink and the ship’s chief engineer sounded the alarm. The crew, “out of fear for their lives and without orders from Captain Burke,” began abandoning the ship, they said in a statement.
The entire crew arrived safely on the Collingwood, except Burke, who sank with the Arlington. Reports indicate that he was last seen near the cockpit, waving at the Collingwood, minutes before his boat disappeared into the lake.
The shipwreck society said in the statement that “no one will ever know the answer” to why Burke acted as he did before his ship was lost.
“It’s exciting to solve just one more of Lake Superior’s many mysteries, finding Arlington so far out on the lake,” Fountain said in a statement. “I hope this final chapter of his story can provide some closure for Captain Burke’s family.”
The Arlington was discovered thanks to Fountain, a resident of Negaunee, Michigan, who has been remote sensing Lake Superior for shipwrecks for about a decade, said Bruce Lynn, executive director of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society. .
Fountain approached the group with “a potential target” near the northern tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, and Arlington was discovered last year, Lynn said.
“These goals don’t always mean anything… but this time it was an absolute wreck. “A shipwreck with an interesting and perhaps mysterious history,” she said in the statement. “If Dan hadn’t contacted us, we would never have located the Arlington.”