THE ANDREA DORIA TRAGEDY HAPPENED 57 YEARS AGO

THE ANDREA DORIA TRAGEDY HAPPENED 57 YEARS AGO.

Social History and Cruise History.  Looking back to  July 25, 1956.

The 57th Memorial Anniversary of the sinking of the Andrea Doria. The first SOS reached the Coast Guard station in East Moriches, Long Island, and an armada of ships were dispatched to rescue more than 700 passengers.

Struck in the side, the top-heavy 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 RMS 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.

Ad from Holiday Magazine a year before the Andrea Doria tragedy.

When fifty-three lives were lost when the Italian luxury liner Andrea Doria, en route to New York, collided with the Swedish American Line M.S. Stockholm in dense fog off Nantucket Island.

SS Andrea Doria was an ocean liner for the Italian Line (Società di navigazione Italia) home ported in Genoa, Italy, most famous for its sinking 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, 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.

The yacht-like M.S. STOCKHOLM.

The Stockholm sailing into New York after the accident.

With its sharply raked bow and cruiser stern the 525 foot (160 meter) Swedish American Line’s MS Stockholm could have been mistaken for a private yacht as it was one of the smallest yet one of the prettiest liners on the North Atlantic. Many likened her hull to that of a war ship being so slender, and certainly later her sea worthiness did rather prove that she sailed more like a war ship than a liner, In America she hailed as being “The Worst Roller on the North Atlantic.” Externally she looked a delight painted in the traditional Swedish America Line’s colours: a white hull, a pale yellow funnel with a blue shield containing three golden crowns.

Amazingly at the time she was the largest ship ever to be built in Sweden, yet was the smallest Trans Atlantic Liner for quite some time due to her mere 11,650 GRT with a passenger capacity of just 395, made up of 113 First Class and 282 Tourist Class, although there were some interchangeable cabins between First and Tourist. She carried a crew of 220.

Actress Ruth Roman was separated from her son Richard when the tragedy happened. He arrived a day later on the Stockholm after his mother had mother arrived on the Ile de France the day before. Roman stood with tears streaming down her face on the pier. She prayed that her missing 3 year old son was unhurt. Then suddenly, a child’s voice cried out, “Mommy!” It was Dickie. Miss Roman burst into great tears of joy and muttered, “Everything’s alright now. Its all right.”

Public rooms on the Andrea Doria – she was an elegant ship.


Great video showing the wonderful Italian Liner SS Andrea Doria from her golden years to her tragic sinking.

The fabulous SS Andrea Doria — we tribute the great Italian Line and their wonderful ship.

We also salute all those loyal cruise passengers who have continued to travel over the years. They are the living history of what it was like to sail during the golden age of passenger liner travel. One such great lady is a regular contributor to cruise addicts. Check out the SHIPMAVEN.

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Construction of the SS Andrea Doria…

SS Andrea Doria was an ocean liner for the Italian Line (Società di navigazione Italia) home ported in Genoa, Italy. Named after the 16th-century Genoese admiral Andrea Doria, the Andrea Doria had a gross 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 June 16, 1951, the ship undertook its maiden voyage on January 14, 1953.

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SS Andrea Doria…

On July 25, 1956, approaching the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts bound for New York City, the 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, the Andrea Doria immediately started to list severely to starboard, which left half of her lifeboats unusable.

Photos of passengers aboard the Andrea Doria.

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.[1] The evacuated luxury liner capsized and sank the following morning.

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Life Magazine coverage of the SS Andrea Doria sinking…

The incident and its aftermath were heavily covered by the media. While the rescue efforts were both successful and commendable, the cause of the collision and the loss of the Andrea Doria afterward generated much interest in the media and many lawsuits.

Students and priest sailing on the Andrea Doria.

Largely because of an out-of-court settlement agreement between the two shipping companies during hearings immediately after the disaster, no resolution of the cause(s) was ever formally accomplished. Although the majority of blame appeared initially to fall to the Italian liner, more recent discoveries have indicated a likelihood that a misreading of radar on the Swedish ship may have initiated the collision course that led to some errors on both ships that resulted in the disaster.

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

Newsreel Video on YouTube…

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One comment

  1. Edgar J Jakubowski

    Until recently I thought Captain Gunnar Harry Nordenson was a Swede. But, he was born in the United States. No wonder that American justice system made big effort to burthen Andrea Doria Commander Piero Calamai of being guilty for the tragic end of that Italian Beauty. Like Edward J Smith from Titanic, Captain Nordenson, despite his great experience made a cardinal mistake leaving his post to a young much less experienced mate Carstens Johannsen during densy fog on this much shipping traffic loaded sea area. Why did not he wait on the bridge until his (Stockholm) passed Nantucket Island? Big experience should not excuse those who actually make mistakes. American lawyers pushed everything against Italian part claiming bad naval design of Andrea Doria. Nobody has to teach Italian engineers how to build ships. They have great experience and history. Andrea Doria was not built to sail in Northern Atlantic area during winter times as Stockholm was. For the purpose of what she served she was a perfect sailing vessel. In my private opinion the Stockholm Officer Carstens Johannsen was an ordinary jerk WITHOUT ANY SERIOUS SENSE OF HIS RESPONSIBILITY. His smirk on his face from the photo right after tragedy shows that. I have just seen his interview from his home in Sweden. HE IS AN ORDINARY LIAR. I do not know any English expression for that, but some people are able to lie to themselves and to others until many years later they believe that it was the perfect true. And they die with this assumption. Carstens Johannsen should never carry duties as an Officer of the Swedish Merchant Navy. It was either a very big mistake or oversight from the Swedish Merchant Navy authorities by giving him certificate to operate any ship and to give him any kind of authority. Just a crook.

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