Wreck of WWII-Era Freighter Found in Lake Superior

Deck machinery and debris from the wreck of the Arlington (GLSHS)

Published Feb 12, 2024 9:53 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society has announced the discovery of another wreck from its long-running search program - this time, from the WWII era. 

Working with wreck researcher Dan Fountain, the GLSHS has discovered the wreck of the Canadian bulker Arlington, which went down about 35 miles off Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula in 1940.

On April 30 of that year, Arlington departed Port Arthur, Ontario, bound for Owen Sound with a load of wheat. The bulker was crossing Lake Superior when she encountered a storm, and the ship began to take on water. The first mate decided to divert to the north shore of the lake in an attempt to get some shelter from the worst of the storm. The captain, Frederick Burke, overruled him and directed the ship back onto the previous course across open water. 

At about 0430 hours the next morning, the Arlington began to sink. The crew abandoned ship without the captain's orders and were rescued by another merchant ship, the Collingwood. Capt. Burke went down with his ship, and is said to have waved to the Collingwood from the pilothouse as the Arlington slipped below. 

GLSHS found the wreck in partnership with a resident of Negaunee, Dan Fountain, who informed the society of a possible target in the Copper Harbor area. There was no doubt that it was a wreck, and the society's researchers investigated and validated the find with an ROV dive. In 650 feet of water, they found the vessel well-preserved in the cold fresh water of the lake's bottom.  

"We are lucky to have so many dedicated shipwreck historians and researchers as friends of GLSHS," said GLSHS Executive Director Bruce Lynn. "Had Dan not reached out to us, we might never have located the Arlington . . . and we certainly wouldn't know as much about her story as we do today."