The Linda E.
is a typical Great Lakes commercial fishing boat designed to haul and set gill nets that are about four feet high and vary in length up to two miles long.
The Linda E.
was reported missing on December 11, 1998 while on Lake Michigan near Port Washington, WI A search was conducted by the Coast Guard and no signs of the vessel or her crew were found. The search was called off a couple days later and she was presumed to have sunk with her crew aboard. Lake Michigan had been calm and visibility was unlimited and the fishing tug was equipped with both radio and cell phone. No distress call had been sent out.
On 6/18/2000 the USS Defender, while conducting an underwater search located the wreck of the Linda E.
seven miles off the shoreline in 260 feet of water. On June 21st the Coast Guard Cutter Acacia, using a remotely controlled vehicle, found the vessel sitting upright, partially imbeded into the lake bottom. "Significant damage was evident on the starboard quarter of the vessel. The hull was pushed into a wedge shape centered approximately 14 inches forward of the aft starboard porthole. It extends 6 feet vertically down from the top of the lower deckhouse to just below the rub rail. It is several feet wide near the upper deck to only a few inches wide near the rub rail. The upper deck is crushed downward near the center of the inset. The deck is torn a few feet aft. There is no significant damage to the port side of the vessel."
Several possibilities exist as to what happened, but all are difficult to prove.
The U.S. Navy Minesweeper USS Defender
located the Linda E.
on June 18,2000. As a result, the Milwaukee Marine Safety Office opened an investigation into the disappearance of the Linda E.
The Results: Evidence indicated that the Linda E.
collided with an integrated tug and barge that transited the waters off Port Washington on December 11,1998. By the apparent angle the collision took place and the likelihood that both the port door and the service door were open, the Linda E.
would have sunk in a few seconds. This would explain the lack of any distress signal.