Disasters: Pounds of Prevention

A steady snow was falling on Lake Huron as the 603-ft. freighter Daniel J. Morrell steamed toward Taconite, Minn., for a load of iron ore, but the night was otherwise tranquil. Watchman Dennis Hale, 26, ended his tour of duty, had a snack in the galley and headed for his bunk. Six hours later, he was awakened by "two loud thumps," followed by the insistent clang of the emergency bell. Clad only in underwear and peacoat (he couldn't find his trousers), Hale sped topside—and gasped at what he saw. Lashed by a sudden,...

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