On the morning of Saturday, June 8, people around the Great Lakes closely watched the story about a ship that had departed Two Harbors, Minnesota with a load of taconite when it began to take on water.

The crew reported hearing a loud noise, followed by water coming into the ship. Initial reports about the incident suggested the ship had struck something underwater about 35 nautical miles southwest of Isle Royale, several miles off the Minnesota North Shore coastline.

Many people online questioned what the ship could have hit, with water in that part of the lake being hundreds of feet deep. Since the initial report on Saturday morning that she ship had struck something underwater, subsequent communication about the incident simply referred to the incident as water flooding into the ship.

Thankfully the Michipicoten, with half of her crew evacuated and under escort by the Canadian Coast Guard, safely made it to Thunder Bay to undergo inspection and repair by late afternoon on Saturday.

While a few people online speculated some more outlandish explanations for why the Michipicoten began to take on water on Saturday, investigators are saying something far more rational may have been the cause.

Here's a look at the last time the Michipicoten was in Duluth, departing under the Lift Bridge on May 18.

While the investigation has not yet concluded, Thunder Bay's TB News Watch reports that the Transportation Safety Board of Canada says "there's no indication at present that the ship struck something first". Investigators say they will still look into this possibility, but they feel it is unlikely the cause.

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Divers found a 13-foot long, quarter-inch-wide crack in the hull during their investigation. A representative from the US Coast Guard told TB News Watch the crack was "from the turn of the bilge, which is where the side shell turns to the bottom plate".

So, what would cause such a long crack in the hull and the loud bang the ship's crew heard, if it wasn't a collision with something?

Investigators say the location and type of crack in the hull is "clearly indicative of hull failure". US Coast Guard spokesperson Lorne Thomas told TB News Watch

"It looks like a hull failure, which could be the result of stress, fatigue, age of the vessel," he said, but cautioned that a full investigation is needed to determine the cause for certain."

The Michipicoten first set sail on the Great Lakes back in August of 1952 (originally named Elton Hoyt II), making the ship more than 70 years old. While the ship is as old as it is, vessels do still undergo regular inspections to make sure they are safe and fully operational.

Investigators are still considering possibilities like running around or contacting something underwater in shallower water that could have led to the apparent failure later on the journey as part of their ongoing investigation.

This may take some time yet, as the process of offloading the taconite on board and getting the ship to dry dock for further inspection is underway.

TB News Watch reports that it is unclear whether or not the Michipicoten will undergo repairs in Thunder Bay, or elsewhere, or if this may have been the final journey of the ship.

Adella Shores: Century Old Shipwreck Discovered in Lake Superior

The Adella Shores disappeared on May 1, 1909, during a gale in Michigan's Lake Superior near Whitefish Point. Over 100 years after the ship 'Went Missing,' the wreckage of the 195-foot wooden steamer has been found 650 feet below the icy waters of Lake Superior. Here's a look at the Adella Shores today, courtesy of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.

Gallery Credit: Scott Clow

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