Carnival Corp’s COSTA CONCORDIA Ship Accident Stirs Thoughts of the ITIALIAN LINE’S ANDREA DORIA.


Excellent Video on the ANDREA DORIA.

Cruise and Liner History – Carnival Corp’s COSTA CONCORDIA Ship Accident Stirs Thoughts of the ITIALIAN LINE’S ANDREA DORIA.

The world was shocked and astounded to learn of the wreck of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia off the Tuscan coast. How could a modern, state-of-the-art passenger vessel have succumbed to such a gross navigational error in well-charted waters, in clear visibility and calm conditions?

Details of the events leading up to the grounding are only starting to be gathered by investigators but seem to point toward inappropriate ship handling on the part of Capt. Francesco Schettino. Far more disturbing, however, are the alleged actions of Schettino after his ship was stricken and determined to be sinking. He stands accused of abandoning ship before many of the 4,200 passengers and crew, leaving them without his leadership and guidance during a life-and-death evacuation process.  If the preliminary reports are even half true, these actions should land him squarely in prison.

More than a half-century ago, another Italian passenger liner, the tony, beautiful Andrea Doria, was lost in a collision with the Swedish liner Stockholm 50 miles south of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, on a fog shrouded summer’s night in July 1956. The captain of the Andrea Doria, Piero Calamai, made several egregious navigational and operational errors that contributed to the accident.

Calamai was running his vessel at more than 20 knots in dense fog in a heavily trafficked area; he had no knowledge of the workings of his vessel’s radar set and operated his vessel in a dangerously low state of stability to reduce fuel consumption. These mistakes and others by officers aboard both vessels led directly to the loss of the Andrea Doria, severe damage to Stockholm and the deaths of 46 people. What differentiates the Andrea Doria from the current situation was how Calamai behaved after the collision that ultimately sank his ship.

In Alvin Moscow’s “Collision Course,” a contemporary account of the Andrea Doria-Stockholm wreck, Calamai understood the blow to his ship to be fatal only minutes after the impact. Moscow writes, “Resigning himself as best he could … to the loss of his ship, Captain Calamai turned to saving the passengers.”

One of the officers asked permission to sound the abandon-ship signal as required by law, but Calamai demurred. He realized the severe list made half of the ship’s lifeboats unusable. The ensuing panic when the passengers discovered that there weren’t enough lifeboats for everyone was not in the best interests of an orderly evacuation. He hoped other vessels would arrive in time to assist (which they did) before ordering the abandoning of the Andrea Doria.

“Above all, he struggled to maintain the calm deliberateness that had marked his career, determined to set the mood for his fellow officers and crew,” Moscow writes.

Unfortunately, many of the vessel’s crew did not follow Calamai’s example and ran for the boats, ignoring their primary duty to assist the passengers first. Sometime during his supervision of the rescue operations, Calamai turned to one of his officers and said softly, “If you are saved, maybe you can reach Genoa and see my family. … Tell them I did everything I could.”

After satisfying himself that all passengers and crew had been properly evacuated, Calamai had determined to go down with his ship and atone for his mistakes, but his officers talked him out of following the Andrea Doria to her grave. Nevertheless, he made certain he was the last person off the ship.

Calamai was destined never to command another vessel and died a broken man in 1972. While his navigation of the Andrea Doria before the collision was judged after the fact to be woefully deficient and unseamanlike in many respects, his handling of the abandon-ship operations was nothing short of exemplary.

Calamai remains a tragic but eminently respectable figure in maritime history. He understood his supreme responsibility to the passengers and crew of his vessel and faithfully performed his duty to ensure their safety after the collision, which in his heart he knew was largely his fault. A lesser man might have folded under the pressure or ignored his obligations and let instincts of self-preservation disgracefully overwhelm him.

Carnival Corp’s COSTA CONCORDIA Ship Accident Stirs Thoughts of the ITIALIAN LINE’S ANDREA DORIA.
The world was shocked and astounded to learn of the wreck of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia off the Tuscan coast. How could a modern, state-of-the-art passenger vessel have succumbed to such a gross navigational error in well-charted waters, in clear visibility and calm conditions?

Details of the events leading up to the grounding are only starting to be gathered by investigators but seem to point toward inappropriate ship handling on the part of Capt. Francesco Schettino. Far more disturbing, however, are the alleged actions of Schettino after his ship was stricken and determined to be sinking. He stands accused of abandoning ship before many of the 4,200 passengers and crew, leaving them without his leadership and guidance during a life-and-death evacuation process.  If the preliminary reports are even half true, these actions should land him squarely in prison.


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About Michael L. Grace

MICHAEL L. GRACE is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. SNOOPY continues to be one of the most produced shows (amateur & stock) in America/Worldwide and has had long running productions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and in London's West End. There are over 100 individual productions every year. He has written movies for TV, including the award-winning thriller LADY KILLER, various pilots and developed screenplays for Kevin Costner and John Travolta. Besides co-writing and co-producing SNOOPY, he wrote and produced the one-man play KENNEDY. He produced P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD by pulitzer prize winning author James Kirkwood. He wrote the stage thriller FINAL CUT which had productions in the UK, South Africa and Australia. His one-man play, KENNEDY - THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH, was developed for HBO and has starred Andrew Stevens, Gregory Harrison and Joseph Bottoms. He has recently been involved in European productions with CLT-UFA, Europe's leading commercial television and radio broadcaster. He wrote MOWs THE DOLL COLLECTION, THE BOTTOM LINE and LAST WITNESS for German television. While in college and graduate school he worked as a foreign correspondent for COMBAT, the famous leftwing Paris daily, and as a travel writer. He visited more than 50 countries. He struggled as an actor, then joined the enemy and entered the training program at William Morris. He became a publicist and worked for Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager, at Paramount and MGM. He followed with a brief stint as a story executive, working in the frantic horror genre period of the early 80s and wrote THE UNSEEN. He went onto write for episodic television and develop series pilots. He was a continuing writer on such series such as LOVE BOAT, PAPER DOLLS, and KNOTS LANDING. He developed screenplays for such major award winning directors as Nicolas Meyers, Tony Richardson and J. Lee Thompson. He has written for all the major networks and studios. He has been hired numerous times as a script doctor, doing many uncredited rewrites on TV movies and features. He is currently writing A PERSON OF INTEREST, a thriller novel, and, IT'S THE LOVE BOAT... AND HOW IT CHANGED CRUISING BY SHIP a non-fiction book dealing with how the hit TV series as a major cultural phenomenon and altered the style of cruising by ship. He was raised in Los Angeles. He attended St. Paul's, USC and the Pasadena Playhouse. He received a B.A from San Francisco State University where he majored in theatre arts and minored in creative writing. He is listed as a SFSU leading alumni. He also apprenticed at ACT - The American Conservatory Theatre. For a brief period he had intentions of becoming an Episcopal(Anglican) priest and attended seminary at Kelham Theological College in the UK. When "the calling" wasn't there, he left seminary and did graduate work at the American University of Beirut. He has guest lectured at USC, UC San Diego, McGill, Univ. of London and the Univ. of Texas on the business aspects of making a living and surviving as a writer, focusing on development hell, in the Hollywood entertainment industry. Grace is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America, the Dramatist Guild and former regional chairman of the Steamship Historical Society of America. He resides in Palm Springs.

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