The Andrea Doria Sinking

History and sinking of the Italian luxury liner the Andrea Doria.

Launched on June 16, 1951 and named after a famous Italian admiral, the Andrea Doria was Italy's newest and most luxurious of liners. It was to be the beginning of a new era for the booming business of post-war Atlantic ships.

Entering service in January 1953, the Andrea Doria was touted as the most modern of Atlantic cruise vessels. Of all of Italy's ships, she was supposedly the largest, fastest and safest.

The Andrea Doria had eleven watertight compartments whose bulkheads extended from A-Deck to the double hull as well as radar to give warning of any vessels that may be passing near.

For three years the Andrea Doria would reign supreme on the Atlantic cruise routes while gaining the moniker "Grand Dame of the Sea." She and her sister ship Christoforo Colombo would garner even greater numbers of the Atlantic cruise trade.

It isn't for her remarkable art collection, service, beauty or popularity that she is remembered over forty years since her last cruise though. The Andrea Doria would go down in history (as well as the sea) by what was considered an impossible occurrence; she collided with another liner at sea.

On July 25, 1956 at 11:10 P.M. sixty miles from Nantucket Island, the heavily reinforced bow of the Swedish-American liner Stockholm would tear through the starboard side of the Andrea Doria. The collision's effects would be seen immediately as flooding seawater caused the ship to list 18 degrees starboard.

As the water rose, it was soon discovered that one of the watertight doors to the engine room was missing and stability was lost at the failure to ballast the empty fuel tanks. The starboard fuel tanks of the Andrea Doria were full but the port side ones was empty. Due to the immediate rush of seawater flooding the starboard tanks causing an even greater list, the Captain realized there was no hope for his ship.

Within minutes of the collision orders were given to launch the lifeboats and to abandon ship. The ever-increasing starboard list soon made it impossible to launch over half the available lifeboats, which created the makings of a tragic loss of life.

Help would come from a ship in need of help herself. The Stockholm had a badly damaged bow but was able to aid in the rescue by taking on a number of the Andrea Doria's passengers.

Thanks to the ship's SOS signals, a group of ships would soon arrive in the area and provide the much-needed lifeboats that were needed to complete the abandonment of the Andrea Doria. The ship that turned into the primary rescue vessel was the Ile De France and which took off the last of the Andrea Doria's 1,662 passengers and crew at 6:05 A.M. on July 26. The Ile De France would in the end, circle the Andrea Doria and dip her colors three times as a show of respect to the stricken liner before heading off with the rescued survivors.

Unlike other ships before her, newsmen and cameras caught the Andrea Doria's eventual fate and the entire world watched on television or listened on the radio as she slid beneath the waves to settle in 225 feet of water at 10:09 A.M.

Of the 1,662 passengers and crew, 52 lives were lost and all of these died as a direct result of the initial collision.

After all the inquires were over, it was determined that the officers of the Andrea Doria had not followed proper radar procedures or the proper "Rule of the Road" in which a ship should turn right in case of a possible head on crossing at sea. As the Stockholm turned right, the Andrea Doria turned left and there was no way to avoid the collision. In the end, heavy fog would be the main reason given for the accident.

The Stockholm would have her bow replaced for approximately $1 million but the $30 million fastest, safest and most luxurious "grand dame" of the sea, the Andrea Doria would remain in her watery grave like so many of man's "unsinkable" creations.

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