Cruising the Past – Cruise History – The tragedy of the liner SS ANDRA DORIA. A trans-Atlantic liner long gone.


SS Andrea Doria was an ocean liner operated by the Italian Line (Società di Navigazione Italia).  Her home port was Genoa, Italy.  The elegant ship was tragically made famous for its loss in 1956.  Named after the 16th-century Genoese admiral Andrea Doria, the Andrea Doria 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, the 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, approaching the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts bound for New York City, SS Andrea Doria collided with the eastward-bound MS Stockholm of the Swedish American Line in what became one of history’s most famous maritime disasters.

Struck in the side, Andrea Doria immediately started to list severely to starboard, which left half of her lifeboats unusable. The consequent shortage of lifeboats might have resulted in significant loss of life, but improvements in communications and rapid responses by other ships averted a disaster similar in scale to the Titanic disaster of 1912. 1660 passengers and crew were rescued and survived, while 46 people died as a consequence of the collision. The evacuated luxury liner capsized and sank the following morning.

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 and the loss of Andrea Doria afterward 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 may have initiated the collision course, leading to some errors on both ships and resulting in disaster. However, the news that the crew had abandoned the passengers to their own fate dealt a marketing blow to the Italian Line it found hard to recover from.

Andrea Doria was the last major transatlantic passenger vessel to sink before aircraft became the preferred method of travel.


One comment

  1. Apart from the obvious tragedy of the loss of 46 peoples lives the other great loss was that of one of the most beautiful liners of her day. I worked for Cunard in those days, and often saw the “Doria” in New York, in fact the “Parthia” in which I was serving arrived in NY only 24 hours after the sinking, and it appeared that the whole city had been stunned by the event.

Leave a Reply