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Coordinates: 40°29′30″N 69°51′0″W / 40.49167°N 69.85°W / 40.49167; -69.85

SS Andrea Doria
The SS Andrea Doria at home in port.
Name: Andrea Doria
Owner: Italian Line
Port of registry:  Italy
Builder: Ansaldo Shipyards of Genoa, Italy
Launched: 16 June 1951
Maiden voyage: 14 January 1953
In service: 16 June 1951
Out of service: 26 July 1956
Identification: Code Letters and radio callsign ICEH
ICS India.svgICS Charlie.svgICS Echo.svgICS Hotel.svg
Fate: Capsized and sank on 26 July 1956 after colliding with the MS Stockholm
Status: Wrecked, lying on starboard side on the bottom
General characteristics
Class & type: Andrea Doria class ocean liner
Tonnage: 29,083 GRT
Length: 213.80 m (701 ft 5 in)
Beam: 27.50 m (90 ft 3 in)
Installed power: Steam turbines
Propulsion: Twin propellers
Speed: 23 kn (42.60 km/h)
Capacity: 1,221 passengers

SS Andrea Doria /ˈændriə ˈdɔəriə/. Pronounced an-DRAY-a DOHR-ee-a[1] was an ocean liner for the Italian Line (Società di navigazione Italia) home ported in Genoa, Italy, most famous for her sinking in 1956, when 52 people were killed (51 from immediate impact).

Named after the 16th-century Genoese admiral Andrea Doria, the ship had a gross register tonnage of 29,100 and a capacity of about 1,200 passengers and 500 crew. For a country attempting to rebuild its economy and reputation after World War II, Andrea Doria was an icon of Italian national pride. Of all Italy's ships at the time, Andrea Doria was the largest, fastest and supposedly safest. Launched on 16 June 1951, the ship undertook its maiden voyage on 14 January 1953.

On 25 July 1956, while Andrea Doria was approaching the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts, bound for New York City, the eastbound MS Stockholm of the Swedish American Line collided with it in what became one of history's most infamous maritime disasters. Struck in the side, the top-heavy Andrea Doria immediately started to list severely to starboard, which left half of its lifeboats unusable. The consequent shortage of lifeboats might have resulted in significant loss of life, but the efficiency of the ship's technical design allowed it to stay afloat for over 11 hours after the ramming.[2] The good behavior of the crew, improvements in communications and the rapid response of other ships averted a disaster similar in scale to that of the Titanic in 1912. 1,660 passengers and crew were rescued and survived, while 46 people died with the ship as a consequence of the collision.[3] The evacuated luxury liner capsized and sank the following morning. This accident remains the worst maritime disaster to occur in United States waters since the sinking of the SS Eastland in 1915.[4][5]

The incident and its aftermath were heavily covered by the news media. While the rescue efforts were both successful and commendable, the cause of the collision with Stockholm and the loss of Andrea Doria generated much interest in the media and many lawsuits. Largely because of an out-of-court settlement agreement between the two shipping companies during hearings immediately after the disaster, no determination of the cause(s) was ever formally published. Although greater blame appeared initially to fall on the Italian liner, more recent discoveries have indicated that a misreading of radar on the Swedish ship initiated the collision course, leading to errors on both ships.



A model of Andrea Doria

Andrea Doria had a length of 212 m (697 feet), a beam of 27 m (90 ft), and a gross register tonnage of 29,100.[3] The propulsion system consisted of steam turbines attached to twin screws, enabling the ship to achieve a service speed of 23 knots (43 km/h), with a top speed of 26 knots (48 km/h). Andrea Doria was not the largest vessel nor the fastest of its day: those distinctions went to the RMS Queen Elizabeth and the SS United States, respectively. Instead, the famous Italian architect, Minoletti, designed Andrea Doria for luxury.

Because it sailed the southern Atlantic routes, Andrea Doria was the first ship to feature three outdoor swimming pools, one for each class (first, cabin and tourist). When fully booked, the ship was capable of accommodating 1,241 passengers in three different classes; 218 in First Class, 320 in Cabin Class, and 703 in Tourist Class. In addition, 563 crew[3] were charged with operating and maintaining the ship.[6] With over US$1 million spent on artwork and the decor of the cabins and public rooms, including a life-size statue of Admiral Doria, many consider the ship to have been one of the most beautiful ocean liners ever built next to Cunard's two Queens, RMS Queen Elizabeth, RMS Queen Mary, and the French Line's SS Normandie.

Safety and seaworthiness

File:Andrea Doria poster.jpg

An Italian poster announcing the entrance in service of the "greatest, latest and fastest Italian liner".

The ship was also considered one of the safest ships ever built. Equipped with a double hull, Andrea Doria was divided into eleven watertight compartments. Any two of these could be filled with water without endangering the ship’s safety. Andrea Doria also carried enough lifeboats to accommodate all passengers and crew. Furthermore, the ship was equipped with the latest early warning radar. However, and despite its technological advantages, the ship had serious flaws concerning its seaworthiness and safety.

Confirming predictions derived from model testing during the design phase, the ship developed a huge list when hit by any significant force. This was especially apparent during its maiden voyage, when Andrea Doria listed twenty-eight degrees after being hit by a large wave off Nantucket. The ship's tendency to list was accentuated when the fuel tanks were nearly empty, which was usually at the end of a voyage.[7]

This stability issue would become a focus of the investigation after the sinking, as it was a factor in both the capsizing and the crew's inability to lower the port-side lifeboats. The bulkheads of the watertight compartments extended only up to the top of A Deck, and a list greater than 20 degrees allowed water from a flooded watertight compartment to pass over its top into adjacent compartments. In addition, the design parameters allowed the lowering of the lifeboats at a maximum 15-degrees list. Beyond this, up to half of the lifeboats could not be deployed.

Construction and maiden voyage

At the end of World War II, Italy had lost half its merchant fleet through wartime destruction and Allied forces seeking war reparations. The losses included the scuttling/bombing of the SS Rex, a former Blue Riband holder. Furthermore, the country was struggling with a collapsed economy.[8] To show the world that the country had recovered from the war and to reestablish the nation's pride, the Italian Line commissioned two new vessels of similar design in the early 1950s. The first was to be named Andrea Doria, after the 16th-century Genoese admiral Andrea Doria. The second vessel, which was launched in 1953, was to be named Cristoforo Colombo after explorer Christopher Columbus.

Andrea Doria started as Yard No. 918 at Ansaldo Shipyard in Genoa. On 9 February 1950, the ship's keel was laid on the No. 1 slipway, and on 16 June 1951, Andrea Doria was launched. During the ceremony, the ship's hull was blessed by Giuseppe Siri, Cardinal Archbishop of Genoa, and christened by Mrs. Giuseppina Saragat, wife of the former Minister of the Merchant Marine Giuseppe Saragat. However, amid reports of machinery problems during sea trials, Andrea Doria's maiden voyage was pushed back from 14 December 1952, to 14 January 1953.[9]

During the ship's maiden voyage, she encountered heavy storms on the final approach to New York, listing a full twenty-eight degrees. Nevertheless, Andrea Doria completed her maiden voyage on 23 January only a few minutes behind schedule, and received a welcoming delegation which included New York Mayor Vincent R. Impellitteri. Afterwards, Andrea Doria became one of Italy's most popular and successful ocean liners as she was always filled to capacity. By mid-1956, she was making her 100th crossing of the Atlantic.

Final voyage

A collision course

On July 17, 1956, Andrea Doria first set sail from her home port of Genoa on what should have been a routine nine-day crossing between Italy and the United States. It was to be her 51st westbound crossing. Before setting course for the open Atlantic, she made stops at three ports where the Italian Line had established passenger terminals to pick up more passengers. She first stopped at the French port of Cannes, then returned to the southeast to Naples on July 18 before making her last stop at Gibraltar on July 20. After leaving Gibraltar, she had a total compliment of 1,134 passengers aboard, barely 100 shy of the ship's full carrying capacity of 1,241. They consisted of 190 First Class passengers, 267 Cabin Class passengers and 677 Tourist Class passengers, along with a crew of 572.

On Wednesday, July 25, MS Stockholm, a smaller passenger liner of the Swedish American Line, departed New York about midday, heading east across the North Atlantic Ocean toward Gothenburg, Sweden. Stockholm was commanded by Captain Harry Gunnar Nordenson, though Third Officer Johan-Ernst Carstens-Johannsen was on duty on the bridge at the time. Stockholm was following its usual course east to Nantucket Lightship, making about 18 knots (33 km/h) with clear skies. Carstens estimated visibility at 6 nautical miles (11 km).

As Stockholm and Andrea Doria were approaching each other head-on, in the heavily used shipping corridor, the westbound Andrea Doria had been traveling in heavy fog for hours. The captain had reduced speed slightly from 23.0 to 21.8 knots (42.6 to 40.4 km/h), activated the ship's fog-warning whistle, and had closed the watertight doors, all customary precautions while sailing in such conditions. However, the eastbound Stockholm had yet to enter what was apparently the edge of a fog bank and was seemingly unaware of it and the movement of the other ship hidden in it. The waters of the North Atlantic south of Nantucket Island are frequently the site of intermittent fog as the cold Labrador Current encounters the Gulf Stream.

As the two ships approached each other, at a combined speed of 40 knots (74 km/h), each was aware of the presence of another ship but was guided only by radar; they apparently misinterpreted each other's course. There was no radio communication between the two ships, at first.

The original inquiry established that in the critical minutes before the collision, Andrea Doria gradually steered to port, attempting a starboard-to-starboard passing, while Stockholm turned about 20 degrees to its starboard, an action intended to widen the passing distance of a port-to-port passing. In fact, they were actually steering towards each other – narrowing, rather than widening, the passing distance. Compounded by the extremely thick fog that enveloped the Doria as the ships approached each other, the ships were quite close by the time visual contact had been established. By then, the crews realized that they were on a collision course, but despite last-minute maneuvers, they could not avoid the collision.

In the last moments before impact, Stockholm turned hard to starboard and was in the process of reversing her propellers, attempting to stop. Andrea Doria, remaining at her cruising speed of almost 22 knots (41 km/h) engaged in a hard turn to port, her captain hoping to outrun the collision. At approximately 11:10 PM the two ships collided, Stockholm striking the side of Andrea Doria.

File:Andrea Doria at Dawn.jpg

SS Andrea Doria the morning after the collision with the MS Stockholm in fog off Nantucket Island. The hole in her starboard side from the collision with Stockholm is clearly visible.

Impact and penetration

When Andrea Doria and Stockholm collided at almost a 90-degree angle, Stockholm's sharply raked ice breaking prow pierced Andrea Doria's starboard side approximately one-third of her length from the bow. It penetrated three passenger cabins, numbers 52, 54 and 56, to a depth of nearly 40 feet (12 m), and the keel. The collision smashed many occupied passenger cabins and, at the lower levels, ripped open several of Andrea Doria's watertight compartments. The gash pierced five fuel tanks on Andrea Doria's starboard side and filled them with 500 tons of seawater. Meanwhile, air was trapped in the empty tanks on the port side, contributing to a severe, uncorrectable list. The ship's large fuel tanks were mostly empty at the time of the collision, since the ship was nearing the end of her voyage, but all the empty fuel tanks did was further increase the list.

Meanwhile, on the bridge of Stockholm, immediately after the impact, engines were placed at "All Stop", and all watertight doors were closed. The ships were intertwined for about 30 seconds. As they separated, the smashed bow of the stationary Stockholm was dragged aft along the starboard side of Andrea Doria, which was still moving forward, adding more gashes along the side. The two ships then separated, and Andrea Doria moved away into the heavy fog. Initial radio distress calls were sent out by each ship, and in that manner, they learned each other's identities. The world soon became aware that two large ocean liners had collided.

This was the SOS sent by Andrea Doria:


Assessing damage and imminent danger

Immediately after the collision, Andrea Doria began to take on water and started to list severely to starboard. Within minutes, the list was at least 18 degrees. After the ships separated, Captain Calamai quickly brought the engine controls to "All Stop". Many people[Who?] believe that one of the watertight doors to the engine room was missing, though this issue was later determined to be moot (see Later Investigations and Study below). Much more importantly, however, crucial stability was lost by the earlier failure, during routine operations, to ballast the mostly empty fuel tanks as the builders had specified. (Filling the tanks with seawater as the fuel was emptied would have resulted in more costly procedures to refuel when port was reached). Owing to the immediate rush of seawater flooding the starboard tanks, and the fact that the port tanks were empty because the crossing was almost over, the list was greater than would otherwise have been the case. As it increased over the next few minutes, to 20 degrees or more, Calamai realized there was no hope for his ship unless the list could be corrected.

In the engine room, engineers attempted to pump water out of the flooding starboard tanks to no avail. There was only a small amount of remaining fuel, and the intakes to pump seawater into the port tanks were now high out of the water, making that procedure to attempt to level the ship impossible. Progressive loss of generators due to flooding as the water rose in the engine room reduced the ability to pump even more.

Aboard Stockholm, roughly 30 feet of her bow had been crushed and torn away. Initially, the ship was dangerously down by the bow, but emptying the freshwater tanks soon raised the bow to within 4 inches (10 cm) of normal. A quick survey determined that the major damage did not extend aft beyond the bulkhead between the first and second watertight compartments. Thus, despite being a bit down at the bow, and having its first watertight compartment flooded, the ship was soon determined to be stable and in no imminent danger of sinking.


The area of Andrea Doria's hull where Stockholms bow penetrated encompased five passenger decks. On the uppermost of these decks, the Upper Deck, at least eight First Class cabins were destroyed. In all, six First Class passengers lost their lives. In Cabin 46, Colonel Walter Carlin had been in the bathroom brushing his teeth at the time of the collision and miraculously survived, while his wife Jeanette was killed. In direct line of Stockholms bow on the upper deck were Cabins 52 and 54, which were occupied by Camille Cianfarra, a longtime foreign correspondent for The New York Times, his wife Jane, their eight-year-old daughter Joan and 14-year-old Linda Morgan, Jane's daughter from a previous marriage.[10] Joan was killed instantly, while Camille died from severe injuries moments after the collision. Jane was seriously injured, but was rescued by some other passengers, among them Dr. Thure Peterson, who had been next door in Cabin 56. He sustained only minor injuries, while his wife Martha was gravely wounded and was trapped along with Jane Cianfarra. After a long struggle to free her, largely on the part of her husband, Martha succumbed to her injuries a few hours after the collision. One deck below on the Foyer Deck, near the First Class entrance, Ferdinand Melly Thieriot, circulation director of The San Francisco Chronicle, along with his wife Frances, were killed, as their suite was in direct line of the Stockholms bow. Their thirteen-year-old son Peter, who occupied a cabin further down the corridor, survived.

On the three decks below, titled A, B and C Deck, the loss of life was much greater, as it was the location of several sections of Tourist Class cabins. In all, 37 Tourist Class passengers died in the immediate collision, either crushed under the Stockholms bow or drowned by the massive inrush of seawater through the hole in Andrea Dorias hull left by Stockholm. They were all Italian immigrants headed for new lives in North America, and consisted mostly of women and children. Among the most heartwrenching of the losses was that of Maria Sergio and her four children, who occupied a cabin on C Deck which was in direct line of the collision. She was traveling aboard Andrea Doria with her children on her way to join her husband, Ross Sergio in South Bend, Indiana. Also travelling with them was Maria's sister Margaret and her husband Paul Sergio, who was Ross' brother. Paul and Margaret had emigrated to the US prior to the voyage and had returned to Italy for a visit and to accompany Maria and the children back to Indiana. Both Paul and Margaret survived the sinking, and for years after the disaster, Paul was haunted by the memory of his four-year-old nephew Rocco, the youngest of his brother's children, who just prior to the collision had asked if he could spend the night with his uncle.

During the evacuation of Andrea Doria, Norma Di Sandro, a four-year-old Italian girl was dropped on her head into a lifeboat by her panicked father. She was taken to Stockholm and subsequently airlifted to Brighton Marine Hospital in Boston where she died from a fractured cranium. In addition, 48-year-old Angelina Grego broke her back after falling into one of Ile de France's lifeboats. She was taken to St. Claire's Hospital in New York City, where she died six months later. After the ships had separated, as Stockholm crew members were beginning to survey the damage, a miraculous discovery was made. On the top deck of Stockholm, one of the crew came across Linda Morgan, who had been thrown from her bed on Andrea Doria as the two ships collided and landed on the Stockholm's deck, suffering moderate but not life-threatening injuries. Others, unfortunately, were not as lucky, as five of the Stockholms crew perished in the collision.

Difficult, successful rescue operations

File:Stockholm following Andrea Doria collision.jpg

26 July 1956: After colliding with Andrea Doria, Stockholm, with severely damaged prow, heads to New York.

On Andrea Doria, the decision to abandon ship was made within 30 minutes of impact. A sufficient number of lifeboats for all of the passengers and crew were positioned on each side of the Boat Deck. Procedures called for lowering the lifeboats to be fastened alongside the glass-enclosed Promenade Deck (one deck below), where evacuees could step out windows directly into the boats, which would then be lowered down to the sea. Much to the dismay of Stockholm mariners, the first three lifeboats from Andrea Doria to arrive contained mostly Italian Andrea Doria crew (waiters and stewards) rather than passengers.[11]

Moreover, it was soon determined that half of the lifeboats, those on the port side, were unlaunchable due to the severe list, which left them high in the air. To make matters worse, the list also complicated normal lifeboat procedures on the starboard side. Instead of loading lifeboats at the side of the Promenade Deck and then lowering them into the water, it would be necessary to lower the boats empty, and somehow get evacuees down the exterior of the ship to water level to board. This was eventually accomplished through ropes, Jacob's ladders, and a large fishing net. Some passengers panicked and threw children to rescuers below or jumped overboard themselves. Given that the crew had already abandoned ship in the first lifeboats, panic took over, and thus began some of the injuries gained within the evacuation.

A distress message was relayed to other ships by radio, making it extremely clear that additional lifeboats were urgently needed. While other ships nearby were en route, Captain Nordenson of Stockholm, having determined that his ship was not in any imminent danger of sinking, and after being assured of the safety of his mostly sleeping passengers, sent some of his lifeboats to supplement the starboard boats from Andrea Doria. In the first hours, many survivors transported by lifeboats from both ships were taken aboard Stockholm. Fights were reported between Swedish crew and new arrivals when the first three lifeboats contained only Andrea Doria crew who had abandoned their passengers.[citation needed]

Unlike the Titanic tragedy 44 years earlier, several other non-passenger ships that heard the Doria's SOS signal steamed as fast as they could, some eventually making it to the scene. Radio communications included relays from the other ships as Andrea Doria's radios had limited range. There was also coordination on land by the United States Coast Guard from New York City.

A major turning point in the rescue effort was the decision by Baron Raoul de Beaudean, Captain of the SS Ile de France, a large eastbound French Line passenger liner, which had passed the westbound Andrea Doria many hours earlier, to turn back to assist. The French liner had sufficient capacity to accommodate the many extra passengers, and was fully provisioned, only a day out of New York on its planned eastbound crossing. While Captain de Beaudean steamed back through the fog to the scene, his crew prepared to launch its lifeboats and receive those to be rescued.

Arriving at the scene less than 3 hours after the collision, as he neared, Captain de Beaudean became concerned about navigating his huge ship safely among the two wounded liners, other responding vessels, lifeboats and possibly even people in the water. Then, just as Ile de France arrived, the fog lifted, and he was able to position his ship in such a way that the starboard side of Andrea Doria was somewhat sheltered. He ordered all exterior lights of Ile de France to be turned on. The sight of the illuminated Ile de France was a great emotional relief to many participants, crew and passengers alike.

Ile de France managed to rescue the bulk of the remaining passengers by shuttling its ten lifeboats back and forth to Andrea Doria, and receiving lifeboat loads from those of the other ships already at the scene (as well as the starboard boats from Andrea Doria). Some passengers on Ile de France gave up their cabins to be used by the wet and tired survivors. Many other acts of kindness were reported by grateful survivors.

Assisted also by several smaller ships which had responded, Andrea Doria was completely evacuated by daybreak. As a result, loss of life was limited to those killed or mortally injured on the two ships during the actual collision and the immediate aftermath. One child, four-year-old Norma Di Sandro, who suffered a head injury when dropped by her father into a waiting lifeboat, did not recover and died later at a Boston hospital. Also, an Andrea Doria passenger having worked strenuously to help others during the rescue due to their abandonment by the crew, suffered a fatal heart attack the next day aboard Stockholm while it was returning to New York.

Shortly after daybreak, the little girl and four seriously injured Stockholm crewmen were airlifted from that ship at the scene by helicopters sent by the Coast Guard and U.S. Air Force. A number of passengers and some crew were hospitalized upon arrival in New York.

Andrea Doria capsizes and sinks

Andrea Doria awaiting its impending fate the morning after the collision in the Atlantic Ocean, 26 July 1956.

Once the evacuation was complete, Captain Calamai of Andrea Doria shifted his attention to the possibility of towing the ship to shallow water. However, it was clear to those watching helplessly at the scene that the stricken ocean liner was continuing to roll on its side.

After all the survivors had been transferred onto various rescue ships bound for New York, Andrea Doria's remaining crew began to disembark—forced to abandon the ship. By 9:00 AM. even Captain Calamai was in a rescue boat. The sinking began at 9:45 a.m. and by 10:00 that morning Andrea Doria was on its side at a right angle to the sea. The ship fully disappeared into the Atlantic at 10:09—almost exactly eleven hours after the collision with Stockholm took place.[12]

Andrea Doria on her side.

The starboard side dipped into the ocean and the three swimming pools were seen refilling with water. As the bow slid under, the stern rose slightly, and the port propeller and shaft were visible. As the port side slipped below the waves, some of the unused lifeboats snapped free of their davits and floated upside-down in a row. It was recorded that Andrea Doria finally sank 11 hours after the collision, at 10:09 AM on 26 July 1956. The ship had drifted 1.58 nautical miles (2.93 km) from the point of the collision in those 11 hours. Aerial photography of the stricken ocean liner capsizing and sinking won a Pulitzer Prize in 1957 for Harry A. Trask of the Boston Traveler newspaper.

Return to New York; families

Because of the scattering of Andrea Doria passengers and crew among the various rescue vessels, some families were separated during the collision and rescue. It was not clear who was where, and whether or not some persons had survived, until after all the ships with survivors arrived in New York. This included six different vessels, including the heavily damaged Stockholm, which was able to steam back to New York under its own power with a United States Coast Guard escort, but arrived later than the other ships.

During the wait, ABC Radio Network news commentator Edward P. Morgan, based in New York City, broadcast a professional account of the collision, not telling listeners that his 14-year-old daughter had been aboard Andrea Doria and feared dead. He did not know that Linda Morgan, who was soon labeled the "miracle girl," was alive and aboard Stockholm. The following night, after learning the good news, his emotional broadcast became one of the more memorable in radio news history.

Among Andrea Doria's passengers were Hollywood actress Ruth Roman and her four-year-old son. In the 1950 film Three Secrets, Roman had portrayed a distraught mother waiting to learn whether or not her child had survived a plane crash. She and her son were separated from each other during the collision and evacuation. Rescued, Roman had to wait to learn her child's fate which resulted in a media frenzy for photos as she waited at the pier in New York City for her child's safe arrival aboard one of the rescue ships. Actress Betsy Drake, wife of movie star Cary Grant also escaped from the sinking liner, as did Philadelphia mayor Richardson Dilworth and songwriter Mike Stoller (of the team Leiber and Stoller).

Assisted by the American Red Cross and news photographers, the frantic parents of four-year-old Norma Di Sandro learned that their injured daughter had been airlifted from Stockholm to a hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, where the previously unidentified little girl had undergone surgery for a fractured skull. They drove all night from New York to Boston, with police escorts provided to their convoy in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. When they arrived, the child was still unconscious and the doctors said all that could be done was wait to see if she woke up. The little girl never regained consciousness, and succumbed to her injuries.

Other families also had their hopes of seeing loved ones again dashed, especially those who were meeting members of several young families immigrating to the United States in hope of new lives.

The pier in New York that the Stockholm was heading for was packed with newsreel photographers and television crews. All the major department stores and shoe stores had booths set up to give the arriving survivors clothing and shoes. Not many of the newspeople spoke Italian, so there was confusion when the survivors were asked to take off the clothing they were just given, to be photographed putting the clothes on. But after just a few minutes, everyone was clothed and had shoes to wear. (Ex WOR-TV engineer, Frank Cernese)

The sinking produced a footnote in automotive history, as it resulted in the loss of the Chrysler Norseman, an advanced "one-off" prototype car which had been built for Chrysler by Ghia in Italy. The Norseman had been announced as a major attraction of the 1957 auto show circuit. However, it had not been shown to the public prior to the disaster, and was lost, along with other cars in Andrea Doria's 50-car garage including a Rolls-Royce.


Litigation and determination of fault: 1956–57

There were several months of hearings in New York City in the aftermath of the collision. Prominent maritime attorneys represented both the ships' owners. Dozens of attorneys represented victims and families of victims. Officers of both ship lines had testified, including the officers in charge of each ship at the time of the collision, with more scheduled to appear later until an out-of-court settlement was reached, and the hearings ended abruptly.

Both shipping lines contributed to a settlement fund for the victims. Each line sustained its own damages. For the Swedish-American Line, damages were estimated at $2 million, half for repairs to Stockholm's bow, and half for lost business during repairs. The Italian Line sustained a loss of Andrea Doria's full value, estimated to be $30 million.

A U.S. Congressional hearing was also held, and provided some determinations, notably about the lack of ballasting specified by the builders during the fatal voyage and the resulting lack of seaworthiness of Andrea Doria after the collision.

While heavy fog would be the main reason given as the cause of the accident, and it is not disputed that intermittent and heavy fog are both frequent and challenging conditions for mariners in that part of the ocean, these other factors have been cited:

  1. Andrea Doria's officers had not followed proper radar procedures or used the plotting equipment available in the chartroom adjacent to the bridge of their ship to calculate the position and speed of the other (approaching) ship. Thus, they failed to realize Stockholm's size, speed, and course.
  2. Andrea Doria had not followed the proper "rules of the road"[13] in which a ship should turn to right (to starboard) in case of a possible head-on crossing at sea. As Stockholm turned right, Andrea Doria turned left (to port), closing the circle instead of opening it. Beyond a certain point, it became impossible to avoid a collision.
  3. Captain Calamai of Andrea Doria was deliberately speeding in heavy fog, an admittedly common practice on passenger liners. The navigation rules required speed to be reduced during periods of limited visibility to a stopping distance within half the distance of visibility. As a practical matter, this would have meant reducing the speed of the ship to virtually zero in the dense fog.
  4. Stockholm and Andrea Doria were experiencing different weather conditions immediately prior to the collision. The collision occurred in an area of the northern Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Massachusetts where heavy and intermittent fog is common. Although Andrea Doria had been engulfed in the fog for several hours, Stockholm had only recently entered the bank and was still acclimating to atmospheric conditions. The officer in charge of Stockholm incorrectly assumed that his inability to see the other vessel was due to conditions other than fog, such as the other ship being a very small fishing vessel or a blacked-out warship on maneuvers. He testified that he had no idea it was another passenger liner speeding through fog.
  5. Andrea Doria's fuel tanks were half empty and not pumped with seawater ballast in order to stabilize the ship, in accordance with the Italian Line's procedures. This contributed to the pronounced list following the collision, the inability of the crew to pump water into the port fuel tanks to right the ship, and the inability to use the port lifeboats for the evacuation.
  6. There was also perhaps a "missing" watertight door between bulkheads near the engine room, which was thought to have contributed to Andrea Doria's problems.
  7. The Stockholm's navigating officer misread his radar thinking he was on a 15-mile setting when in reality the radar was set for 5 miles. Thus he thought he was farther from the Andrea Doria than was so. He also failed to consult his captain as was required by regulation.

Both lines had an incentive to limit the public discussion of Andrea Doria 's structural and stability problems. Stockholm's owners had another new ship, the Gripsholm, under construction at Ansaldo Shipyard in Italy.[7] Andrea Doria's designers and engineers had been scheduled to testify, but the hearings were abruptly concluded before their testimony could be heard due to the settlement agreement.

Resulting reforms

The Andrea Doria–Stockholm collision led to several rule changes in the immediate years following the incident to avoid a recurrence. Since this was essentially a radar assisted collision event, in which over-use was made of poorly handled technology,[14] shipping lines were required to improve training on the use of radar equipment. Also, approaching ships were required to make radio contact with one another. Both ships saw each other on their radar systems and attempted to turn. Unfortunately, one of the radar systems was poorly designed, resulting in the collision.

Later investigations and study

Unanswered questions about the tragedy, and questions of cause and blame, have intrigued observers and haunted survivors for over 50 years. The fact that Andrea Doria and Stockholm were speeding in heavy fog (21.8 knots and 18.5 knots respectively at the collision)[2] and questions about their seaworthiness arose at the time. Captain Calamai never assumed another command due to the fact that the Italian Line feared bad publicity. However, largely because the out-of-court settlement agreement between the two shipping companies ended the fact finding which was taking place in the hearings immediately after the disaster, no resolution of the cause(s) was ever formally accomplished. This has led to continued development of information and a search for greater understanding, aided by newer technologies in over half a century since the disaster.

Recent discoveries using computer animation and newer undersea diving technology have shed additional light on some aspects.

  • Many years later, scientific study of the actions of the two crews indicated a probability that the Third Mate on Stockholm misinterpreted his radar in the minutes prior to the impact. Recent studies and computer simulations carried out by Captain Robert J. Meurn of the United States Merchant Marine Academy and based on the findings of John C. Carrothers suggest Stockholm Third Officer Carstens-Johannsen misinterpreted radar data and badly overestimated the distance between the two ships. The poor design of the radar settings, coupled with unlighted range settings and a darkened bridge, makes this scenario possible. Some critics have suggested that a simple and available technology, a small light bulb on the radar set aboard Stockholm, might have averted the entire disaster. Instead, it is possible that he unintentionally steered the Swedish ship into what became a collision with the Italian liner.
  • Studies of the actions of each ship confirm another factor which was long suspected, that once sight contact was established, the SS Andrea Doria took an evasive action which increased the likelihood of a collision and worsened the situation. In other words the Italian ship turned to its left, and subsequently the Swedish turned to its right, which in the case of an impending collision meant that they turned towards each other. The best way to avoid a collision is for both parties to turn away, by both going to their "left" or both going "right." Hence the rules of the road specify the direction a ship should turn; if both ships follow the same avoidance rules, then they minimize the chance of a collision.
  • Exploration of Andrea Doria's impact area revealed that Stockholm's bow had ripped a much larger gash in the critical area of the large fuel tanks and watertight compartments of the Italian liner than had been thought in 1956. The question of the "missing" watertight door, although still unanswered, was probably moot: Andrea Doria was doomed immediately after the collision.

Diving on the wreck site


A painting of the decaying Andrea Doria circa 2005, with her superstructure gone and hull broken after 50 years of submersion in swift North Atlantic currents.

Due to the luxurious appointments and initially good condition of the wreck, with the top of the wreck lying initially in 160 feet (50 m) of water, Andrea Doria has been a frequent target of treasure divers. It is commonly referred to[by whom?] as the "Mount Everest of scuba diving." The comparison to Mt. Everest originated after a July 1983 dive on the Doria by Capt. Alvin Golden during a CBS News televised interview of the divers following their return from a dive expedition to the wreck aboard the R/V Wahoo. The depth, water temperature and currents combine to put the wreck beyond the scope of recreational diving. The skills and equipment required to successfully execute this dive, such as use of mixed gases and staged decompression, put it in the realm of only the most experienced technical divers. The wreck is located at approximately 40°29.408′N 69°51.046′W / 40.490133°N 69.850767°W / 40.490133; -69.850767.[15]

The day after Andrea Doria sank, divers Peter Gimbel and Joseph Fox managed to locate the wreck of the ship, and published pictures of the wreck in TIME magazine. In 1968 the film director Bruno Vailati, together with Stefano Carletti, Mimi Dies, Arnaldo Mattei and Al Giddings (an experienced US-diver), organized and directed the first Italian expedition to the wreck, realizing the documentary titled Andrea Doria -74. The wreck was marked with a bronze plaque with the inscription: "We came here to work, because the impossible becomes possible and the Andrea Doria return to the light".[16]

Peter Gimbel later conducted a number of salvage operations on the ship, including salvaging the First Class Bank Safe in 1981. Despite speculation that passengers had deposited many valuables, the safe, opened on live television in 1984, yielded thousands of American silver certificates, Canadian bank notes, American Express travellers checks and Italian bank notes, but no other valuables. This outcome apparently confirmed other speculation that most Andrea Doria passengers, in anticipation of the ship's scheduled arrival in New York City the following morning, had already retrieved their valuables prior to the collision.

22-year-old Evelyn Bartram Dudas was the first woman to successfully dive onto Andrea Doria. Dudas reached the wreck in June, 1967; her future husband, John Dudas, retrieved the ship's compass.[17]

As of 2010, years of ocean submersion have taken their toll. The wreck has aged and deteriorated extensively, with the hull now fractured and collapsed. The upper decks have slowly slid off the wreck to the seabed below. As a result of this transformation, a large debris field flows out from the hull of the liner. Once-popular access points frequented by divers, such as Gimbel's Hole, no longer exist. Divers call Andrea Doria a "noisy" wreck, as it emits various noises due to continual deterioration and the currents' moving broken metal around inside the hull. However, due to this decay new access areas are constantly opening up for future divers on the ever-changing wreck.

After years of removal of artifacts by divers, little of value was thought to remain. Significant artifacts recovered include the statue of Genoese Admiral Andrea Doria, for whom the ship was named. It was removed from the first-class lounge having been cut off at the ankles to accomplish this. Examples of the ship's china have long been considered valuable mementos of diving the wreck. The ship's bell is normally considered to be the prize of a wreck. This ship carried three bells: one bell located on the bridge, and two much larger ceremonial bells located on the fore and aft decks. The ship's stern bell was retrieved in the late 1980s by a team of divers led by Bill Nagle.[18] On 26 June 2010,[19] a diver from New Jersey, Carl Bayer, discovered the bridge bell lying on the bottom at 241 feet. He recovered it with assistance from Ernie Rookey, also from New Jersey. The bell, measuring 16 inches tall and weighing 73.5 pounds, was possibly used to signal fog on the night of the collision. The forward bell remains undiscovered. It has for years been thought to be in the ship's paint locker where it was stored during ocean crossings, but recent reports indicate that that part of the ship has collapsed in on itself and the forward bell may never be found.


Artifact recovery on Andrea Doria has resulted in additional loss of life. Sixteen scuba divers have lost their lives diving the wreck,[20] and diving conditions at the wreck site are considered very treacherous. Strong currents and heavy sediment that can reduce visibility to zero pose serious hazards to diving this site. Dr. Robert Ballard (the man responsible for locating the wrecks of the ocean liner Titanic, the German battleship Bismarck and the American aircraft carrier Yorktown), who visited the site in a U.S. Navy submersible in 1995, reported that thick fishing nets draped the hull. An invisible web of thin fishing lines, which can easily snag scuba gear, provides more danger. Furthermore, the wreck is slowly collapsing; the top of the wreck is now at 190 feet (58 m), and many of the passageways have begun to collapse.

  • 1985 – John Ormsby died after being caught in wires and drowning.[21][22]
  • 1998 – Craig Sicola, Richard Roost and Vincent Napoliello all died diving on Andrea Doria.[21]
  • 1999 – Christopher Murley and Charles J. McGurr both died of apparent heart attacks preparing for a second dive.[21][23]
  • 2002 – William Schmoldt died from decompression sickness.[24]
  • 2006 – Researcher David Bright died from decompression sickness.[25]
  • 2008 – Terry DeWolf of Houston, Texas died during dive on wreck, cause of death is still undetermined.[26]
  • 2011 – Michael LaPrade of Los Angeles died during a dive on the wreck.[27]



Memorial wreath placed at Andrea Doria shipwreck site by survivors, July 2002.

MV Azores

Stockholm's bow was repaired at a cost of $1 million. Today, it sails as the MV Azores and is registered in Portugal.


Survivors went on with their lives with a wide range of experiences. Captain Calamai never accepted another command, and lived the rest of his life in sadness "as a man who has lost a son", according to his daughter. Most of the other officers returned to the sea. Some survivors had mental problems for years after the incident, while others felt their experience had helped them value their lives more preciously. A group of survivors remains in contact with each other through a web site run by the family of Anthony Grillo, an Andrea Doria survivor. Some stay in touch through a newsletter, and there have been reunions and memorial services.[citation needed]

In culture


  • Two bronze medallions, commissioned by survivors, Pierette Domenica Simpson and Jerome Reinert, and a survivor's daughter Angela Addario, are in the South Street Seaport Museum of New York, and in the Museo del Mare of Genova, Italy.
  • California sculptor, Daniel Oberti, created the two works called The Greatest Sea Rescue in History.[28]



In Tom Clancy & Larry Bond's Red Storm Rising, a Victor-class submarine stakes out a New York to Europe convoy to reinforce NATO against a Soviet attack by sitting next to the wreck of the Andrea Doria - hoping to confuse MAD readings. USS Reuben James (FFG-57) and HMS Battleaxe (F89), working in conjunction, use their helicopters to find and destroy the submarine.


Several books have been written about Andrea Doria. Each presented information not contained in the others, thereby providing varying perspectives.

  • The story of the accident was retold by Alvin Moscow in his book Collision Course: The Story of the Collision Between the 'Andrea Doria' and the 'Stockholm', published in 1959.
  • Author William Hoffer's Saved: the Story of the Andrea Doria-The Greatest Sea Rescue in History was published in 1979.
  • In 2003, Richard Goldstein wrote Desperate Hours: The Epic Rescue of the Andrea Doria.
  • 2004's Shadow Divers, by Robert Kurson, provides accounts of wreckage divers at the site as a precursor to the book's main story.
  • The most recent, Alive on the Andrea Doria: The Greatest Sea Rescue in History, is by survivor Pierette Domenica Simpson in 2006.[29]

Onscreen and online

Films and videos
  • Several documentaries have been produced. These include works by National Geographic Channel, PBS Secrets of the Dead, Discovery Channel, History Channel, and others.
  • A seminarian from the Archdiocese of Chicago interviewed two priests and a retired bishop, survivors of the Andrea Doria, and subsequently produced an oral history presentation titled Voices from the Andrea Doria, which can be accessed online.[30]
  • On the Waterfront (1954, by Elia Kazan) is the only film in which one can see the Andrea Doria; in a scene, Terry Malloy (played by Marlon Brando) watches the ship as she descends the Hudson River.
  • The 144th episode of the sitcom Seinfeld featured the Andrea Doria as a plot device when the character George goes up against an Andrea Doria survivor to become the leasee of an apartment.


Boston newspaper photographer Harry Trask, who arrived at the scene in a small airplane after many media people had left, took a series of photographs of Andrea Doria's final moments above water, which won a Pulitzer Prize.

See also


  1. Italian the stress in Andrea is on the dre.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Samuel Halpern, An Objective Forensic Analysis of the Collision Between Stockholm and Andrea Doria
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "PBS Online – Lost Liners – Comparison Chart". PBS. 
  4. "Hunting New England Shipwrecks". Retrieved 2012-05-01. 
  5. "The exclusive economic zone is the zone where the U.S. and other coastal nations have jurisdiction over economic and resource management". NOAA. Retrieved 2012-05-01. 
  6. Passenger Accommodation Deck Plan. Andrea Doria: Tragedy and Rescue at Sea.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Othfors, Daniel. Andrea Doria. The Great Ocean Liners: Andrea Doria.
  8. Andrea Doria.[dead link]
  9. The Ships: Andrea Doria. Andrea Doria: Tragedy and Rescue at Sea.
  10. 1956, 25 July – The ocean liner Andrea Doria collides with a Swedish liner off Nantucket. Forty-six passengers die, including Camille Cianfarra, a longtime foreign correspondent for The Times., New York Times Timeline 1941–1970
  11. Richard, Goldstein (2003). Desperate Hours: The Epic Rescue of the Andrea Doria. John Wiley & Sons. p. 304. ISBN 978-0-471-42352-2. 
  12. Thirteen/WNET (2006). "Case file: The Sinking of the Andrea Doria". Educational Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 12 March 2010. 
  13. Navigation Rules Online (12 July 2005). U.S. Coast Guard – Navigation Center.
  14. Farwell's rules of the nautical road
  15. "Dive Site Atlas, Andrea Doria, USA, Massachusetts". Retrieved 2009-03-28. 
  17. Call her the diva of diving: Evelyn Dudas, a "living legend" of the deep, Philadelphia Inquirer, 26 July 2009, retrieved from Jul;y 26, 2009[dead link]
  18. Kurson, Robert: "Shadow Divers", Alfred A. Knopf Publishing, 2004
  19. Chung, G. (28 June 2010). Andrea Doria bridge bell is recovered from famed shipwreck by NJ divers. The Star-Ledger, p. 1.
  20. "New Jersey Scuba Diver – Dive Sites – Andrea Doria". Retrieved 10 July 2006. 
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 "Divers risk all for a date with Andrea Doria". Retrieved 5th of May, 2010. 
  22. A fairly detailed account of Ormsby's death is recounted in Chapter 1 of Deep Descent: Adventure and Death Diving the Andrea Doria by Kevin McMurray, and is republished online at's Deep Descent: Adventure and Death Diving the Andrea Doria (9780743400633): Kevin F. McMurray: Books
  23. "National News Briefs; Man Dies After Dive To Andrea Doria Wreck – New York Times". The New York Times. 30 July 1999. Retrieved 10 July 2006. 
  24. "Diver exploring wreck off Mass. stricken, dies". Retrieved 10 July 2006. 
  25. "Researcher died after Andrea Doria dive – Yahoo! News". Archived from the original on 15 July 2006. Retrieved 10 July 2006. 
  26. "Diver died exploring famed shipwreck off Nantucket". Retrieved 31 July 2008. 
  27. Nelson, Laura J. (26 July 2011). "At epic wreck, another victim". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  28. Daniel Oberti Ceramic Design[dead link]
  29. [ ALIVE ON THE ANDREA DORIA: The Greatest Sea Rescue in History by "Pierette Domenica Simpson"
  30. Voices from the Andrea Doria by Kyle M. Lee
Further reading
  • Ballard, Robert D. (1997). Lost Liners: From the Titanic to the Andrea Doria the Ocean Floor Reveals Its Greatest Ships. Hyperion. ISBN 978-0-7868-6296-2. 
  • Carletti, Stefano (1968). Andrea Doria '74. Gherando Casini Ed, Italy. 
  • Gentile, Gary (1989). Andrea Doria: Dive to an Era. Gary Gentile Productions. ISBN 978-0-9621453-0-8. 
  • Gladstone, Eugene W. (1966). In The Wake of the Andrea Doria: A Candid Autobiography by Eugene W. Gladstone. McClelland and Stewart Limited, Canada. 
  • Goldstein, Richard (2003). Desperate Hours: The Epic Rescue of the Andrea Doria. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-471-42352-2. 
  • Haberstroh, Joe (2003). Fatal Depth: Deep Sea Diving, China Fever and the Wreck of the Andrea Doria. The Lyons Press. ISBN 978-1-58574-457-2. 
  • Hoffer, William (1982). Saved: the Story of the Andrea Doria-The Greatest Sea Rescue in History. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-517-36490-1. 
  • Kurson, Robert (2004). Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II. Random House. ISBN 978-0-375-50858-5. 
  • Kohler, Peter C. (1988). The Lido Fleet. Seadragon Press. ISBN 978-0-9663052-0-3. 
  • Mattsson, Algot (Translated from Swedish by Professor E. Fisher and edited by Gordon W. Paulsen) (1986). Out of the Fog: The Sinking of the Andrea Doria. Cornell Maritime Press. ISBN 978-0-87033-545-7. 
  • McMurray, Kevin F. (2001). Deep Descent: Adventure And Death Diving The Andrea Doria. Pocket Books. ISBN 978-0-7434-0062-6. 
  • Meurn, Robert J. (1990). Watchstanding Guide for the Merchant Officer. Cornell Maritime Press. ISBN 978-0-87033-409-2. 
  • Moscow, Alvin (1959). Collision Course. Putnam Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-448-12019-5.  Noted updated version published in 1981.
  • Simpson, Pierette Dominica (2006). Alive on the Adrea Doria! The Greatest Sea Rescue in History. Purple Mountain Press. 
  • New York Times, "Doria Skin Diver Dies, Was In Group Set to Film Ship-Oxygen Supply Cut Off", 2 August 1956, Page 13.
  • Cussler, Clive and Kemprecos, Paul (1999). Serpent. Pocket Books. ISBN 978-0-671-02668-4. 
Online and film

External links

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