BOOK REVIEW: SHIPS MONTHLY, United Kingdom
ALIVE ON THE ANDREA DORIA! The Greatest Sea Rescue in History
Those of us old enough to remember the Andrea Doria-Stockholm almost head-on collision, will recall that all reports afterwards inferred the Italian liner was to blame, causing the innocent Swedish ship to ram and sink her on July 25 and 26th 1956 in dense fog. Although in New York’s approaches, between the Nantucket and Ambrose light ships, the collision occurred in international waters, and because it involved two foreign ship there was no official inquiry, even though it cost 51 lives, 46 from the Andrea Doria, five from the Stockholm.
Financial claims were settled in New York “out of court” with minimal compensation allowed to those who lost all their belongings, but no official inquiry sorted out the lies and wherefores of who was to blame, thus leaving accusations of the Italian “inefficiency and cowardice” uncontested.
After wide-reaching research into the real facts of the case, authoress Simpson, herself a surviving Andrea Doria passenger, has written this compelling book, which proves beyond all doubt that had the Italian engineers not worked so hard down below and under appallingly difficult conditions, with the ship’s list increasing dramatically as the Atlantic poured in, the beautiful liner would not have remained afloat for the 11 hours she did, thus enabling Captain Calamai and his gallant men to organize the rescue of all those passengers not killed in the collision.
Pretrial statements from both ships conflicted, but it was allowed that the Stockholm’s captain had, to save time, deliberately taken his ship along the westbound lane instead of the designated eastbound and that he was not on the bridge at the time. After all, his sole watch keeping officer was a young third mate who stated that the night was clear–so no worries! The fog was apparently patchy–dense here, but not so dense elsewhere perhaps–and the Italian liner’s bridge was fully manned by the captain, his officers, helmsman and lookouts, sounding the appropriate fog signal for a power- driven vessel of making way through the water…
But why did the Andrea Doria make the last-minute turn to port, giving the event the much-bandied tally at the time of one of the first “radar assisted collisions”?
Who was really to blame? Read this fascinating, well-illustrated book and find out!
–Captain Sandy Kinghorn, 9/20/06