Sinking of the Andrea Doria

by Candace RichComment — Updated August 3, 2023

At dawn, a lifeboat pulls away…
Andrea Doria
On 25 July 1956 in heavy fog, 60 miles off Nantucket Island at 11:10 p.m., the reinforced ice-breaking bow of the Swedish-American liner Stockholm tore into the starboard side of the Italian luxury liner Andrea Doria. Although there were many mistakes made by both ships that night, the fog was the principle cause of the diasaster.

Stockholm rammed Andrea Doria broadside, puncturing the starboard hull plates just aft of the bridge and ripping open seven of her eleven decks. For a moment the smaller Swedish liner was lodged into the opening, which reached almost all the way down to Doria’s keel. The Italian liner was moving at full speed, however, and the force of rushing water soon tore the smaller ship away. Almost immediately, Andrea Doria began to list to starboard.

As the water pored in, the ship took an 18 degree list, which would soon increase even further. The lifeboats were not designed to launch above a 15 degree list, rendering the port side ones useless. And, the starboard lifeboats, if fully loaded, could only carry about 1,000 of the 1,706 on board.

The S.O.S. went out and many ships responded to the emergency, lowering their own lifeboats to take on the Andrea Doria’s passengers. Most recognized of these was the French liner, Ile de France, which would rescue 753 survivors. At 6:05 a.m., July 26, the last of Andrea Doria’s 1,662 surving passengers and crew had been evacuated. At first, Captain Calamai of the Andrea Doria refused to leave his ship until all of the passengers and crew had been evacuated. Still hoping that Andrea Doria could be saved, he remained on his ship even as the list exceeded forty degrees.Reluctantly, he stepped into a lifeboat as dawn broke about 5:30AM.

The primary rescue vessel Ile De France circled the Andrea Doria one last time, dipping her colours three times in a farewell salute, then steamed back to New York.

At 10:09 a.m., with news cameras rolling, the Andrea Doria gracefully slipped beneath the waves of the Atlantic. The grand dame of the sea went down in 225 feet of water with a loss of 52 lives – all of whom died as a result of the collision.

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