MTU Great Lakes Research Center Aims to Find Lake Superior Shipwrecks

November 7, 2018

Houghton, MINovember 7, 2018 – Underwater robots, side-scan sonar, and crowdfunding are being deployed to find two of Lake Superior’s most elusive historical shipwrecks.

On November 23, 1918, two 143-foot French minesweepers went down in a Lake Superior storm. Michigan Technological University’s Great Lakes Research Center Director Guy Meadows is at the helm of a crowd-funded project to find the Cerisoles and Inkerman. Meadows shares the historical research and advanced technologies that will guide the mission at a talk from 5:30 to 7 pm on Tuesday, November 13, at the Great Lakes Research Center, in Room 202. The public is welcome.

It’s not the first time anyone’s gone looking for the ships since they went missing. Why does Meadows think his odds are better? “I have some ideas about the detailed events, what the Lake Superior weather was and what implication the weather had on how the ships may have ended up foundering,” he says. “I have tried to look at the loss with fresh eyes.”

First, the search team will do a wide-area search with conventional side-scan sonar, at high resolution. “If the targets look promising, we have the technology to go in and take a really close look with our autonomous underwater vehicle, like we did for the folks at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena a couple summers ago,” says Meadows.

“The final step of the strategy is to go in with our remotely operated vehicles and read the names off the back of the boats, if we should be so fortunate,” says Meadows, who added his own research to the work done by the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society. That group has been looking for the vessels for a few years.

The 630-ton steel-hulled minesweepers were built near present-day Thunder Bay, Ontario and last seen off Keweenaw Point in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The combined crew of 79, represents the largest loss of life in Lake Superior maritime history.

Funds for the search, to be conducted out of Copper Harbor in spring 2019 aboard the Michigan Tech Research Vessel Agassiz, are being raised on Michigan Tech’s non-profit crowdfunding site, Superior Ideas. Find out how you can donate to the search at superiorideas.org.

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