Great Lakes freighter that replaced Edmund Fitzgerald goes to scrapyard

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One of the great workhorses of the Great Lakes, the American Fortitude, is now in a Canadian scrapyard and finally at the end of its long shipping career.

The ship, which has been out of commission for several years, set sail for an Ontario metal recycler earlier this month, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

It's a quiet end to a long and storied voyage, which began in 1952 when the 690-foot freighter launched under the name Ernest T. Weir. It would spend the next six decades carrying iron ore and other cargo across the lakes.

Boatnerd.com indicates the ship experienced its first name change – to Courtney Burton – in the late 70s under a new owner, and was rechristened a final time to American Fortitude in 2006 when the American Steamship Co. bought her.

The freighter holds an important place in Lake Superior's shipping history. After the now-legendary S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald sank in a brutal storm in 1975, the American Fortitude replaced it as the flagship of freighter company Oglebay Norton, owner of both vessels, BoatNerd notes.

She enjoyed a much longer life than her predecessor did, but her sailing career was not without incident.

According to the Duluth News Tribune, the ship was at the center of a headline-grabbing mishap in the Duluth ship canal in 1980, when it became trapped in thick ice just off shore after a failed attempt to break through it.

Not even tug boats were able to free the behemoth freighter, which was eventually able to work its way out.

Multiple outlets initially reported that American Fortitude would be scrapped in Texas, but the job is apparently underway in Canada instead.

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