Expedition '97 to the


After thirty-nine years, the Carl D. Bradley, resting at 360 feet on the bottom of Lake Michigan, has been viewed broken in two parts and captured on film. Two Michigan men led a twenty-man team to the Bradley site and used a deep ocean robot to successfully film the wreck in a marathon, twenty-four hour bottom-time documentation. The Bradley sank with the loss of thirty-three men in a violent Lake Michigan storm on November 18, 1958.

Marine artist and author Jim Clary of St. Clair, and Fred Shannon of Mt. Morris, who also led an earlier expedition, were elated with their results after being hampered by bad weather and poor bottom visibility during their 1995 attempt. At a news conference following the mission, Frank Mays, the ship's lone survivor who also accompanied the team, announced that, "The Carl D. Bradley lies upright on the bottom in two separate pieces." Because the close-up data from the robot sub was fed to topside monitors during three exhaustive, non-stop sessions, there was little time to completely analyze the film. However, initial review of the footage has revealed the following:

The Bradley lies upright at a depth of between 320 and 380 feet in two separate parts with approximately ninety feet between the forward and aft sections.

The aft port corner of the forward section appears to have struck bottom first. The bow is in near-perfect condition with the depth markings readable to their lowest point. Current has washed away the lake bottom in this area leaving a five to six-foot clear area beneath the bow for some distance. A stress crack is visible on the port side of the hull.

The giant unloading boom rests in its cradles still held in position by its stays. The steering pole, forward mast, radar (atop the unloading boom A-frame), and main mast are missing but appear to be laying nearby.

The stern section appears to lie at an approximate forty degree angle with the propeller and rudder well off the lake bottom. In 1995, it was determined that Jim Clary actually ventured beneath the stern in this area in the sub Delta.

Many hatch covers are missing and many rail stanchions are either missing, hanging out of position or severely bent. An enormous amount of coal is strewn around the wreck. All pilot house window glass is missing and the telephoto capability of the robot cameras allowed some examination of the pilot house interior. A microphone cord is visible, stretched across the lower portion of a port pilot house window. The ship's steering wheel can also be seen.

The robot sub became entangled several times, the last time for nearly four hours. Barely able to move a few inches in either direction, the sub was slowly turned 180 to eventually free it's own tether with the use of it's manipulator arm. Although bad weather was predicted during the mission, near-calm conditions prevailed for the operation, with gales assaulting the area only after the crew departed the site. In the words of Frank Mays, Jim Clary, and Fred Shannon, "We couldn't be more pleased with results of Expedition '97. The mission's data will be carefully studied for use in the production of a collection of paintings and prints, documentary, and CD-ROM, all planned to be released by year's end.

For further information contact:
Jim Clary at 810-329-7744 or
Fred Shannon 810-687-1486.


Click here for the history of the Bradley

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