The Italian luxury liner Andrea Doria collided with the Stockholm on July 25th 1956. She rolled over and sank the next morning. 51 lives were lost.
Cruise Line History: The Unsinkable Andrea Doria – 55th Anniversary
By the mid-1950s, with the postwar passenger boom at its peak, more than 50 passenger liners sailed the sealanes between Europe and America. Among the most splendid were two new ships of the Italian Line, the Cristoforo Colombo and the Andrea Doria. They were built for luxury, not speed, and to take advantage of the sunnier southern route. The Andrea Doria was the first liner to possess three outdoor swimming pools, one each for first, cabin and tourist class. Her lines were graceful, her public rooms lavishly decorated and crowded with artworks and her most desirable first-class suites as rarified as any that had come before. She was a superb expression of her time and nationality, a ship that combined 1950s modernity with a keen awareness of Italy’s extraordinary artistic heritage.
She was also equipped with the latest in navigational equipment, including two sets of radar, the still-developing technology that had transformed the maritime battlefields of World War II and was now standard equipment in the merchant marine. But even if the radar failed and somehow a collision happened, the Andrea Doria was in theory unsinkable. Her 11 watertight compartments were so constructed that she would remain afloat if any two were breached –more than that her builders could not imagine — and so that she would never take on a list of more than 15 degrees. As an extra safety precaution, her lifeboats could still be launched if the list reached 20 degrees. Yet the Andrea Doria was destined to become the last great lost ship of a transatlantic passenger era that was about to fade away.
Her story provides vivid evidence that “despite all the safety gadgets, the mind is supreme and the mind is fallible.” The quotation belongs to Harry Manning, first captain of the record-breaking United States reflecting on the collision between the Andrea Doria and the Stockholm. The same words could equally have been written following the loss of the Titanic or the Empress of Ireland. Add to human frailty a goodly portion of bad luck, and the collision that led to the sinking takes on the kind of inevitability that prompted William Hoffer in his book Saved! to comment that “the two ships seemed drawn together by a magnet of fate.” And despite many hours of testimony after the accident and much analysis, no one will ever be completely sure precisely how it happened.