Joe McInnis, the expedition leader to the Edmund Fitzgerald wrote :
“Tom Farnquist had been dreaming about the bell on top of the Fitzgerald’s pilothouse roof ever since he first saw it with an underwater video camera six years earlier . If he could organize an expedition to recover it, the effort would generate widespread publicity for his museum and a host of new products—posters, sweatshirts, home videos, coffee mugs—for his retail gift shop. ... There was only one problem. Although the Fitzgerald was an American ship, it lay in Canadian waters under the jurisdiction of the province of Ontario.
Farnquist knew that the province, and its underwater archaeologist, did not look kindly on the removal of historical artifacts from its shipwrecks. He also knew that legitimate credentials and substantial effort were needed to obtain an archaeological license. His record of illegally removing artifacts from the state of Michigan waters might diminish his chances. To succeed, he need some velvet leverage.
To everyone’s surprise, it was his arch-rival Shannon who unwittingly gave it to him. … Shannon filmed the body [at the site of Fitzgerald wreck] and then described publicly what had been found. … The families were furious. …
Farnquist sensed an opportunity. He befriended two family members, both women, one who had lost a son and another who had lost a father. He assured them that he shared their view of Shannon’s behavior. He told them that he would be happy to assist them in preventing him from diving again at the site. The two women liked the short man with the serious face who listened so attentively and agreed so readily. After 19 years, it was comforting that someone was so interested in what they had had to say.
As time passed, Farnquist introduced his idea of making one last dive to recover the bell. He suggested that the bell be placed in his museum ‘as a memorial to the lost crewman.’ After the bell was recovered, he told them, the Fitzgerald would be placed ‘off limits to divers.’ Farnquist asked if the women would help him in a letter-writing campaign to convince the other Fitzgerald families. He knew that with enough support it might be possible to pressure the Ontario government into granting a license to recover the bell ‘on humanitarian grounds.’
It worked. …”
From Fitzgerald’s Storm: The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, by Dr. Joseph McInnis, pages 100 –103.
You Tube Video:
Edmund Fitzgerald bell transfer ceremony
See: Plan for Recovery and Conservation of the Bell from the Sunken Vessel Edmund Fitzgerald