the ghosts ships of the great lakes shipwrecks

On May 4, 1891 Atlanta — schooner — was in tow behind Wilhelm — a steamer — when high winds snapped the tow cable connecting the two ships. Without sails, Atlanta sank 650 feet below the surface. The sunken ship is in excellent condition due to the cold waters in which the ship settled, according to Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society.

in early 2022, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society announced that the wreckage of the 172-foot-long schooner has been located in Lake Superior just over 130 years after it sank. A research team has identified the long-lost ship using sonar and imaging from a remote control car.

Shipwrecks like Atlanta continue to amaze us, so we’re going to take a closer look at how ships sink.

How a ship sinks

There are many reasons why a ship can sink. The main ones are floods and bad weather conditions leading to loss of stability, according to Marine Insight.

The Titanic hit an iceberg in the most famous shipwreck in history, causing a sudden rush of water inside the ship. The ship then lost its buoyancy and sank in the North Atlantic Ocean.

In case of Atlanta, the culprit was stormy weather. All three of the schooner’s masts were reported to have been broken during the storm, and once the tow cable between Atlanta and Wilhelm clicked, there was no way to Atlanta to stay upright.

All ships have a metacentric height, which is defined as the distance between metacenter of the ship and its vertical center of gravity. As long as this distance remains positive, i.e. the ship’s metacenter does not dip below its vertical center of gravity and the ship must remain stable.

However, with Atlanta, the strong winds from the storm likely tipped the boat enough so that its metacenter dipped below its vertical center of gravity. After this happened, the boat capsized completely and the crew was forced to abandon ship.

Great Lakes Shipwrecks

The Atlanta far from the first well-preserved ship to be discovered in the Great Lakes. Approximately 6,000 ships were lost in the stormy waters, with about 1,500 on Lake Michigan.

The main cause of shipwrecks on the Great Lakes is stormy weather, especially in the upper reaches of Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and Lake Superior. In late fall and early winter, the weather can be particularly treacherous. Most of them Shipwrecks in the Great Lakes it happened in late autumn.

According to the National Weather Service, it is not unusual for powerful storms to pass through the Great Lakes region. Cold Arctic air flows down from the Rocky Mountains and across the Great Plains, just as warmer air and moisture flows up from the Gulf of Mexico. These two streams combine to create dangerous storm systems on and around the Great Lakes.

Ultimately, these storms create unnerving conditions for ships to travel by water. Buoys recorded waves almost 30 feet tall on Upper Lake. For ships in the late 1800s such as Atlantathese conditions played a large part in their demise.

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