Little Bits of History

SS Andrea Doria

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 25, 2012

SS Andrea Doria sinking

July 25, 1956: Just south of Nantucket Island, two ocean liners collide. Nantucket is an island 30 miles south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The SS Andrea Doria was an Italian Line ship out of Genoa, Italy. She was launched on June 16, 1951 with her maiden voyage beginning on January 14, 1953. She was the flagship, a beacon of national pride as Italy began to rebuild after World War II ended. She was Italy’s largest, fastest, and safest ship.

The area around Nantucket Island is famous for fogbanks. On this particular night, the Andrea Doria had been sailing through a thick fog for quite some time. In accordance with safety procedures, her speed was cut back to 21.8 knots (40.4 mph). Her captain, Piero Calamai, activated the fog-warning whistle and closed all watertight doors, protecting the 1,134 passengers and 572 crew members. The ship had left Italy on July 17 and was scheduled to reach New York the following day.

The MS Stockholm, also called MS Athena, was a Swedish ship built in 1948 and part of the Swedish American Line. After a refit in 1953, the ship was able to carry 548 people. Stockholm left New York about midday and was heading east toward Gothenburg, Sweden. Captain Harry Gunnar Nordenson had left the bridge to Third Officer Johan-Ernst Carstens-Johannsen. The ocean was clear as the ship headed toward the fogbank travelling at 18 knots or 33 mph.

The two ships approached each other at a combined speed of 40 knots or 74 mph. There was no radio communication between the two ships, but they did see each other on radar heading straight for each other. Each ship corrected, but in the worst possible manner. At 11:10 PM the Stockholm struck the Andrea Doria at a right angle amid ships. With an ice breaking prow, the smaller ship impaled the larger one and crashed through about 40 feet. As the two ships disengaged, the Stockholm cut a larger hole in the side of the Andrea Doria. Many passengers inside their staterooms were crushed. The Andrea Doria immediately listed to starboard and half the life boats were unavailable. Due to wonderful implementation of rescue workers, these initial impact fatalities were the only deaths attributed to the accident. 1,660 passengers and crew were rescued with only 46 perishing. The ship sunk the next day.

Every government has as much of a duty to avoid war as a ship’s captain has to avoid a shipwreck. – Guy de Maupassant

I love the ocean. Boats, not so much. – Jeff Goldblum

The man who has experienced shipwreck shudders even at a calm sea. – Ovid

Blue, green, grey, white, or black; smooth, ruffled, or mountainous; that ocean is not silent. – H. P. Lovecraft

Also on this day:

Oh Joy! Louise – In 1978, Louise Joy Brown is born.
TP – in 1871, a patent was granted for perforated toilet paper.
Free Press – In 1925, TASS is established.

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One Response

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  1. Paul Klich Ohio USA said, on March 22, 2014 at 3:27 am

    James Klich I, Rita Klich, April Klich and John Marino all perished in the Andrea Doria. The four victims were from Birmingham, Alabama. James Klich had just retired from the Federal Government. I keep having the same dream. John is sleeping and starts screaming like a girl when the room filled up with water. Why me lord? His surf board did not save him.


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