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60th Anniversary of the "Andrea Doria' sinking


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Today marks the 60th anniversary of that tragic event. It was the first ship I ever sailed on. I was 6. We were on the 2nd to last eastbound (NY to Italy) sailing before it's fatal voyage. We were supposed to come home on it later in August but got transferred to the "Cristoforo Columbo"/

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  • 4 weeks later...

My parents fortunately sailed her in 1955 but my mother had some friends that were on the doomed sailing

 

 

She said it took weeks to get all the oil from their hair and skin as they had to shimmy down ropes into the water/boats

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
Today marks the 60th anniversary of that tragic event. It was the first ship I ever sailed on. I was 6. We were on the 2nd to last eastbound (NY to Italy) sailing before it's fatal voyage. We were supposed to come home on it later in August but got transferred to the "Cristoforo Columbo"/

 

Thank you for posting this reminder.

 

Like the loss of the Empress of Ireland in the St. Lawrence River, I worry that the Andrea Doria will fade from our memory.

 

I wonder what it might have been like to have sailed on Cristoforo Columbo so soon after the loss of Andrea Doria. They were so much alike that the Italian Line issued brochures for the Columbo that had incomplete silvered out captions of photos in the brochures that were photos of the interiors of the Andrea Doria.

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  • 2 years later...

I have some nice items in my personal collection, I have a 1953 Brochure, 2 - Cabin Class Menus from 1953 and 1955, a 1953 daily program, a maiden voyage first class passenger used postcard. I also have a postcard for the ship that sank her, the Stockholm and a postcard and felt pennant for the Ile De France that came to the rescue. If like to see photos of the items, you can message me and i'll be happy to post the photos in here for you to enjoy.

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i'd be happy too, some of the item's I got from a friend that was a travel agent in the 50's and 60's, so none of the items are for sale. but here are my Andrea Doria and other ships involved items. the top items are the andrea doria, the postcard is the ship that sank her, the Stockholm and the pennant is the Ile De France that came to the rescue. I hope enjoy the photos

1953 Brochure

Daily Program

1953_cabin_class_andrea_doria_menu_by_wildelf34_ddaw75a-pre.thumb.jpg.8c912262a595e4df01f549dfe764b627.jpg

the ship that sank her

one of the rescue ships

 

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  • 11 months later...
4 hours ago, marco said:

And today marks the 64th anniversary of that tragic accident.

 

This is always a sad day for me as I remember that tragedy.  

 

MS Stockholm, which has been modified and sailed with a variety of cruise companies and with various ship names, is now known as the MV Astoria.  Most recent news that I have read is that she is being withdrawn from service after these many years and will likely go to the breakers.  

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On 7/25/2020 at 4:02 PM, rkacruiser said:

 

This is always a sad day for me as I remember that tragedy.  

 

MS Stockholm, which has been modified and sailed with a variety of cruise companies and with various ship names, is now known as the MV Astoria.  Most recent news that I have read is that she is being withdrawn from service after these many years and will likely go to the breakers.  


Yes RK, the word is that the Stockholm/Astoria is on the way to be scrapped.  That has to be some kind of record for a passenger liner...72 years!!  
 

I well remember the collision and nonstop press coverage.  It was one of the first disasters to be completely televised.  I was 7 years old and glued to the TV.  More than 50 people lost their lives.  The aging Ile de France was the hero of the hour.  I have always maintained that Stockholm should not have been in the oncoming shipping lane and her bridge was not properly manned.  That collision should never have happened.  

Edited by CGTNORMANDIE
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I can still remember some aspects of the ship.  We left out of NY in June to go to Italy.  WHen we had heard the news, my grandparents, aunts and uncles and must about everyone in the town  cried the entire day.  Afterall, it was the pride of Italy and I think the first newbuild after WWII from any country.

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On 7/25/2020 at 1:02 PM, rkacruiser said:

 

This is always a sad day for me as I remember that tragedy.  

 

MS Stockholm, which has been modified and sailed with a variety of cruise companies and with various ship names, is now known as the MV Astoria.  Most recent news that I have read is that she is being withdrawn from service after these many years and will likely go to the breakers.  

 

The Astoria is part of Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV). The ship was laid up in Tilbury, but last month she was arrested by MCA over crew repatriation issues.

 

CMV failed in receiving a bailout package, so they entered administration last week, appointing auditors. While I haven't heard confirmation of the status of their ships, I suspect most will go to the breakers yards.

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7 hours ago, marco said:

I can still remember some aspects of the ship.  We left out of NY in June to go to Italy.  WHen we had heard the news, my grandparents, aunts and uncles and must about everyone in the town  cried the entire day.  Afterall, it was the pride of Italy and I think the first newbuild after WWII from any country.


So true...all of Italy cried.  The Doria was the first new build after the war.  She was the pride of Italy.  Captain Calimai never went to see again and died a broken man.  He got the short end of the deal when the companies went to court.  A tragedy all around.

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53 minutes ago, CGTNORMANDIE said:


So true...all of Italy cried.  The Doria was the first new build after the war.  She was the pride of Italy.  Captain Calimai never went to see again and died a broken man.  He got the short end of the deal when the companies went to court.  A tragedy all around.

 

Your opinion agrees with mine about Captain Calimai.  I think I have read every published book about this tragedy with the most recent one being Out of the Fog.  Each author has their own "take" on what happened and who or what was responsible for the collision and the sinking.  

 

The fact that there was never any legal blame placed on either ship for what happened impacted Captain Calamai more than it did Captain Nordenson.  Nordenson was given the command of a new Swedish American Line ship for awhile.  The Italian Line beached their man.  

 

While who was at fault and why did the Andrea Doria have the initial severe list that she did that led to her loss was not legally resolved.  All of that I read has indicated that both Companies had justifiable reasons for settling before it went to trial.  

 

20 hours ago, CGTNORMANDIE said:

I have always maintained that Stockholm should not have been in the oncoming shipping lane and her bridge was not properly manned.  That collision should never have happened.  

 

As I have learned more about the operation of the Bridge during Behind the Scenes Tours, having only one Officer (and a rather young man at that) with a helmsman and a look-out (not sure there were two; don't think there were) on the Stockholm seems inadequate.  The most disturbing evidence in my opinion is why such an experienced Captain plotted a path Eastbound in the Westbound traffic lane.  The explanations that I have read seem to say something like "that's the way this Company does it".  

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30 minutes ago, rkacruiser said:

 

Your opinion agrees with mine about Captain Calimai.  I think I have read every published book about this tragedy with the most recent one being Out of the Fog.  Each author has their own "take" on what happened and who or what was responsible for the collision and the sinking.  

 

The fact that there was never any legal blame placed on either ship for what happened impacted Captain Calamai more than it did Captain Nordenson.  Nordenson was given the command of a new Swedish American Line ship for awhile.  The Italian Line beached their man.  

 

While who was at fault and why did the Andrea Doria have the initial severe list that she did that led to her loss was not legally resolved.  All of that I read has indicated that both Companies had justifiable reasons for settling before it went to trial.  

 

 

As I have learned more about the operation of the Bridge during Behind the Scenes Tours, having only one Officer (and a rather young man at that) with a helmsman and a look-out (not sure there were two; don't think there were) on the Stockholm seems inadequate.  The most disturbing evidence in my opinion is why such an experienced Captain plotted a path Eastbound in the Westbound traffic lane.  The explanations that I have read seem to say something like "that's the way this Company does it".  


Captain Calimai was thrown under the bus by the Italian Line who were looking for a scape goat.  It was Carstens on the bridge of the Stockholm who got off without a scratch.  Granted the Doria turned across the Stockholm at the last minute but Stockholm should have veered south long before the collision.  Carstens was young and inexperienced and would not budge of the coarse he’d been ordered to maintain.  The Stockholm was headed to Sweden so the company policy was to cut the corner into the North Atlantic from a point farthest North of New York...which put the Stockholm in the oncoming lane.  There is still a mystery as to what range was set on the Stockholm radar.  To this day I do not think we ever heard the full story of what really happened on the Stockholm bridge.  The bottom line: very poor seamanship on the part of the Stockholm and bad luck for the Doria as she was hit in just the right spot for maximum and fatal damage.

 

As an ocean liner historian...I had about a half dozen First Class menus from the Andrea Doria and other mementos.  I donated my entire collection in October 2019.  The menus and mementos now reside with the rest of my ocean liner memorabilia collection at the Peabody Essex (Maritime) Museum (PEM) of Salem, Massachusetts at their museum library in Rawley, Mass.  

Edited by CGTNORMANDIE
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6 hours ago, rkacruiser said:

As I have learned more about the operation of the Bridge during Behind the Scenes Tours, having only one Officer (and a rather young man at that) with a helmsman and a look-out (not sure there were two; don't think there were) on the Stockholm seems inadequate.  The most disturbing evidence in my opinion is why such an experienced Captain plotted a path Eastbound in the Westbound traffic lane.  The explanations that I have read seem to say something like "that's the way this Company does it".  

 

In a 3-watch system the 8-12 watch is often known as the Master's watch, with the 3rd Officer standing the watch for the Master. Cargo ships generally had single officers and a rating, but the P&O ships had 2 Officers, 2 ratings and often a cadet on each watch. Due to slow promotions, most senior watchkeepers had a FG Masters Cert of Competency and the 3rd/4th Officers a 1st Mate or 2nd Mate.

 

Back in the late 70's, P&O tried to reduce the Bridge Teams to a single officer, with the 3 Princess ships having only Captain and Staffy on daywork and Chief, 1st and 2nd officers as watchkeepers. In 1980 they eventually relented and added a 3rd officer to assist the Chief Officer. However, this only resulted in the 3rd Officer being a single watchkeeper, as the Chief Officer did other tasks.

 

Now most Bridge procedures require at least 2 officers, operating as Navigator/Co-Navigator, with additional resources added as the workload increases.

 

While I haven't read any books on the collision, it is known as the 1st Radar Assisted Collision and is used as a teaching aid in many simulator courses. While everyone has a different assessment of the situation, the most popular is that both vessels were at fault of poor watchkeeping practices.

 

When making alterations of course and/or speed, any alteration should be bold, so as to be readily apparent to the other vessel. The old radars only provided a relative display and did not track targets. Auto-plotting became available about 1980 on commercial ships. We had a reflection plotter atop the screen, where we marked a target say every 3 minutes. Once we had 2 or 3 marks, we drew a line through them. If it went through the centre of the screen it was a steady bearing, or collision situation. The distance from the middle was the closest point of approach (CPA)

 

To determine the other ship's course and speed we had to apply our speed vector to the relative vector. This could be done on the reflection plotter, but a plotting sheet provided more accurate results. When the other vessel makes an alteration of course, only about 1/2 the alteration is apparent on the radar. Never used plotting sheets at sea, only in college.

 

Hence the reason we are taught from day 1 to avoid multiple small alterations. A bold alteration, especially in fog should be at least 45 degrees. In fog, when a close quarters situation is present you should avoid altering to port for a vessel fwd of the beam. Note - these are current rules, but I doubt the older ones were too much different in intent. 

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16 hours ago, Heidi13 said:

it is known as the 1st Radar Assisted Collision and is used as a teaching aid in many simulator courses. While everyone has a different assessment of the situation, the most popular is that both vessels were at fault of poor watchkeeping practices.

 

This is the reason why I think the Italian Line and the Swedish American Line decided to settle without going to trial.  From what I have read, there were Bridge concerns that night on both ships.  Had they gone to trial, what a jury would have decided would have been impossible to predict.  Both sides had what seems to me to be valid arguments as to which ship was at fault.  

 

And, then, the issue of the sudden, severe list and subsequent sinking of the Andrea Doria.  There may have been some data that the Italian Line did not want presented in a court of law, if that data was accurate.  

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We only studied the incident from the perspective of the Bridge procedures, especially the use of the radar. When I have some time I'll try to find a copy of the report and read through it. Might pick up some info on the damaged stability.

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18 minutes ago, Heidi13 said:

We only studied the incident from the perspective of the Bridge procedures, especially the use of the radar. When I have some time I'll try to find a copy of the report and read through it. Might pick up some info on the damaged stability.

 

I'd suggest that.  Books that I have read have been written, I believe, from an Italian Line oriented perspective.  Another one was written from the Swedish American Line perspective. 

 

Without knowing all of the evidence that might have been presented, I have wondered if I was a member of the Jury in such a trial, what my verdict might have been.  

 

My verdict now is that many things went wrong that night that resulted in an accident that ought not to have happened and the loss of lives that should not have occurred.  A ship's Master who left the sea in disgrace by his own Company while the other Master was awarded the command of a new ship.  Something is not quite right in this scenario.  

 

Were there any "winners" of this tragedy?   Yes, I think there were.  And, they are us.  Just as the Titanic tragedy in 1912 as well as what happened in 1956, procedures, technology and the use of such,  and safety protocols have positively changed.  Even with the shameful Costa Concordia  accident, we, the cruising public, are as safe as we can be when we cruise.  Lessons are learned with each unfortunate event.

 

When I sail, I feel safer than I do in my living room.

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14 hours ago, rkacruiser said:

 

I'd suggest that.  Books that I have read have been written, I believe, from an Italian Line oriented perspective.  Another one was written from the Swedish American Line perspective. 

 

Without knowing all of the evidence that might have been presented, I have wondered if I was a member of the Jury in such a trial, what my verdict might have been.  

 

My verdict now is that many things went wrong that night that resulted in an accident that ought not to have happened and the loss of lives that should not have occurred.  A ship's Master who left the sea in disgrace by his own Company while the other Master was awarded the command of a new ship.  Something is not quite right in this scenario.  

 

Were there any "winners" of this tragedy?   Yes, I think there were.  And, they are us.  Just as the Titanic tragedy in 1912 as well as what happened in 1956, procedures, technology and the use of such,  and safety protocols have positively changed.  Even with the shameful Costa Concordia  accident, we, the cruising public, are as safe as we can be when we cruise.  Lessons are learned with each unfortunate event.

 

When I sail, I feel safer than I do in my living room.

 

Learning from mistakes is a key component of the ISM Code, where the investigations are not designed to determine fault, only causes and recommendations to prevent.

 

When I did a quick search, the results all indicated the Andrea Doria Master was on the Bridge, but only referred to the Stockholm's 3rd Officer. The Master has a set of standing orders which are read and signed by each officer and they clearly define the circumstances of when the Master must be called to the Bridge. The Master also writes night orders each night before retiring for the evening. Encountering fog, especially when another vessel is detected by radar is definitely a situation where the Master should be called.

 

If the Stockholm Master wasn't called to the Bridge, provided his standing orders were adequate, it is hard to fault him. The 3rd Officer should have been discharged at the next port.

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4 hours ago, Heidi13 said:

When I did a quick search, the results all indicated the Andrea Doria Master was on the Bridge, but only referred to the Stockholm's 3rd Officer. 

 

The Andrea Doria's Master was on the Bridge along with, I recall, two other Officers.  The Doria was in fog.  The Stockholm's 3rd Officer was the only Officer on her Bridge; the Stockholm was not in fog.  He was confused by the fact that he could not see the lights of the approaching ship.  He did not consider that the ship was in fog and his ship was not.  Such a confusing situation probably did warrant a call to the Master.  But, Captain Nordenson did not arrive on the Bridge until after the collision.  

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2 hours ago, rkacruiser said:

 

The Andrea Doria's Master was on the Bridge along with, I recall, two other Officers.  The Doria was in fog.  The Stockholm's 3rd Officer was the only Officer on her Bridge; the Stockholm was not in fog.  He was confused by the fact that he could not see the lights of the approaching ship.  He did not consider that the ship was in fog and his ship was not.  Such a confusing situation probably did warrant a call to the Master.  But, Captain Nordenson did not arrive on the Bridge until after the collision.  

 

The Standing Orders normally require calling the Master when approaching, or in the vicinity of restricted visibility. When you have a target on radar and no visual contact, you first confirm the range. At those ranges and in that location, impending fog would be a good guess. Regardless, when an Officer is unsure, spots something unexpected, or fails to see a target - those are all mandatory reasons for calling the Master.

 

The Collision Regulation require action depending on whether vessels are in sight, or not. Therefore, even with the Stockholm in clear visibility, since she couldn't see the Andrea Doria, the restricted visibility rule applies. I believe the Andrea Doria was on the Stbd bow of the Stockholm, so being fwd of the beam, the Stockholm should not have altered to Stbd, if not in sight.

 

Andrea Doria, in restricted vis with the Stockholm on her Stbd bow, correctly altered to Port, but did not make a large enough alteration and did not monitor effectively to ensure the alteration had the desired affect.

 

Note -  this is based on current collision regs, while in 1956 the still used the old ones. Did learn them in 75, but never actually used them, so can't remember any of the specifics.

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On 7/27/2020 at 4:03 PM, rkacruiser said:

As I have learned more about the operation of the Bridge during Behind the Scenes Tours, having only one Officer (and a rather young man at that) with a helmsman and a look-out (not sure there were two; don't think there were) on the Stockholm seems inadequate.  The most disturbing evidence in my opinion is why such an experienced Captain plotted a path Eastbound in the Westbound traffic lane.  The explanations that I have read seem to say something like "that's the way this Company does it".  

As Andy says, the 1800-2400 watch is normally done by the most junior watch officer, as the Master is normally up most of this time, and available for calls to the bridge as needed.  I am not sure what the bridge manning requirements were for a passenger ship in the 1950's, but today, with the STCW convention, it is two officers and two ratings.  However, the same STCW convention allows cargo ships to operate with a single person, the watch officer, on the bridge, at night, dispensing with the lookout rating.  Most ships operate with one officer and one rating on watch.

 

And, while the third officer is generally young (though as Andy says, in the 70's and 80's, promotion was slow and junior officers were older), even with today's standards, where the third officers (three of them) would be paired with the two Second Officers and the First Officer, note that under STCW rules, the amount of seagoing experience required to obtain a Chief Officer (for both the Chief Officer and First Officer ratings on a passenger ship) license is a total of 720 days at sea.  So, even Chief Officers and First Officers, the most senior watch officers in charge of these great passenger ships, can be 25 years old, if they are ambitious.

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Yes, the seatime requirements have changed significantly, since I was a cadet.

 

My cadet program started as requiring 3 years of seatime and college time, with a minimum of 730 days at sea before we could sail as a certificated 3rd Officer with 2nd Mate FG. We then required another 548 days at sea before sitting the Chief Mate FG, with another 365 days at sea before Master FG. Therefore, we required a minimum of 1,643 days at sea before attaining a Master FG. With P&O we were looking at 10 yrs as 3rd officer, 10 years as 2nd officer and probably 5 to 10 yrs as Chief/1st before reaching Staffy. In Canada, I sailed as Master on the ferries at 27.

 

Our son completed the cadet program in Vancouver and he was sailing as 3rd Officer on cruise ships with only 365 days of seatime. He had a Canadian OOW Certificate. After another 365 days of seatime he completed the Chief Mate/Masters program in Glasgow, receiving a UK Chief Mate FG. After another 365 days of seatime he did a Masters refresher then the orals, attaining a UK Master Mariner's CoC.

 

DS had a Masters CoC with only 1.095 days at sea, while we required 1,643 days. He was also Senior 2nd Officer at 24, sailing 00:00 - 04:00 on Diamond Princess in Asia, sailing with a Master, who I knew from my cadet days.

 

On the coast, our seamen 9no Bridge time except steering) could go to the local marine school, coming out with a local waters OOW Certificate. No cadet program completed, so no Bridge Officer training. Our HR couldn't understand why they couldn't immediately sail as 2nd or 3rd Officers on a 20 kt Ro/Pax navigating in congested waters and high tidal, narrow channels. They couldn't comprehend that going to college only provided the theory to assist them learning the job on the Bridge.

 

I once had a young officer straight out of college proudly state, "Captain, you can block the Bridge windows and I can get the ship to the destination." He was devastated when I provided a reality check, welcome to reality, where you learn to navigate with the eyeball and compass. Once you are proficient with that, I provide access to the electronics.

Edited by Heidi13
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