CBS News Radio/WWJ local

Here is the podcast interview on CBS/WWJ 950 Detroit with Beth Fisher for the launch of I Was Shipwrecked on the Andrea Doria! The Titanic of the 1950 at Mariners Church. I hope you learn some additional facts about this tragic, yet fascinating event in history

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“WWJ Spoke with Andrea Doria Shipwreck Survivor About Life and Titanic Anniversary”
April 14, 2012
WWJ’s Beth Fisher interviewed a survivor of the Andrea Doria shipwreck, Pierette Simpson, on the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.


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Chapter One (excerpt): I Was Shipwrecked on the Andrea Doria! The Titanic of the 1950

My loving Nonnis had decided to make the ultimate sacrifice for me

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. They would accompany me to Detroit, Michigan, where I would “meet” my mother and become a member of the family she had started there.

Our dear friend Giuseppe was anxious to drive us to the seaport of Genoa, where our four trunks had been loaded aboard the luxurious passenger liner Andrea Doria. The ship was known for transporting many immigrants seeking the American Dream. We were confident that it would give safe passage to family belongings, my First Communion dress, Persian rugs, handmade blankets, and stylish Italian sweaters on a transatlantic crossing.

“You’d better get in the car,” Giuseppe instructed. “You don’t want to miss the boat.” His teasing was meant to help lighten our mood.

Nonno gestured for Nonna and Nonna Apollonia, my sweet great-grandmother, to get into the black sedan. It was a great comfort having Nonna Apollonia, the strongest bond to our motherland, accompany us.

But my closest pals were not coming along. I ran to my loving farm dog Titti and my “baby” cat Carla, my playmates when my friends weren’t around. I hadn’t been crying yet, but now the tears couldn’t help flowing. I sobbed. It was all sinking in.


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Unique Event at Mariners Church of Detroit Honors the 100th Titanic Anniversary



Pierette Simpson


Local Andrea Doria Shipwreck Survivor and Author Will Release New Novel, I Was Shipwrecked on the Andrea Doria, at Mariners Church in Detroit, Sunday, April 15

The release coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Titanic, April 15, 2012

NOVI, MI /April 10, 2012 – Local Andrea Doria survivor and author, Pierette Simpson  (, will launch her second book, I Was Shipwrecked on the Andrea Doria! The Titanic of the 1950s. ( at the historic Mariners Church of Detroit, Sunday, April 15, at 11:00am. The public is invited to attend the service and the book signing which follows.

Ms. Simpson’s new book is a fictional version of the calamitous collision between two ocean liners in July 1956. Simpson explains, “I wrote the novel in honor of the Titanic and Andrea Doria tragedies. There are many parallels between the two. The plot portrays a shipwreck anatomy intended to inspire a new generation of marine scientists who will design vessels less likely to collide and sink. But the story is intended to interest readers of all ages.”

Simpson recently returned from releasing her book nationally at the First International Marine Forensics Symposium in DC. She also became the first shipwreck survivor and author to collaborate with a naval architect in writing and presenting a technical paper: “The Loss of the Andrea Doria”. The symposium was largest gathering of prominent scientists, archaeologists, oceanographers, engineers and authors, including P.H. Nargeolet, world-renowned pioneer in the field of deep-sea exploration.

Earlier this year, Simpson was appointed as member of the marine forensics committee for the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers for her in-depth research about her own shipwreck, the Andrea Doria-Stockholm collision on the Atlantic

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. The results were published in Alive on the Andrea Doria! The Greatest Sea Rescue in History.

This Sunday’s service, with full choir, will include a tribute to the Titanic tragedy along with that of the Andrea Doria. Father Paul Innes will preside. Ms. Simpson and fellow shipwreck survivor, Germaine Strobel, are also invited to speak. They will be available for book signing after the service. Directions and parking:


As a nine-year-old immigrating to Detroit, MI with her grandparents, Pierette Simpson became one of the youngest survivors of the Andrea DoriaStockholm collision on July 25, 1956. Ms. Simpson’s first book, Alive on the Andrea Doria! Greatest Sea Rescue in History (, was published in 2006 for the 50th anniversary of the sea tragedy. She was recently interviewed about the recent Costa Concordia tragedy ( The author now resides in Novi, MI.



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I Was Shipwrecked on the Andrea Doria! The Titanic of the 1950s–excerpt


— July 26, 1956 —

“Don’t jump!” we heard the crewman beg from above. “Wait your turn for the rope! Everybody, wait your turn!”

Is Patrick going to listen to an adult for the first time? I wondered in suspense.

I watched my ship buddy lower his leg from the metal railing

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. Those of us already in the lifeboat understood Patrick’s dilemma: Should a nine-year-old take his chances at survival by plunging into the black, shark-infested waters and swimming to the lifeboat? Or should he wait his turn behind other desperate passengers waiting to take lives into their own hands—literally—by grabbing the rope and slowly descending several stories?

Patrick was holding his mother and his older sister, Darlene, away from the railing, as if in command of the situation. Before my grandparents and I had abandoned the listing vessel, Patrick had been encouraging his family to jump, telling them, “I know the ship’s gonna sink. We have to jump now!” Was he now willing to obey orders for the first time on this ten-day voyage?


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Book Review: I Was Shipwrecked on the Andrea Doria! The Titanic of the 1950s

I Was Shipwrecked on the Andrea Doria! The Titanic of the 1950s

Published on 1st April 2012 11:18 AM  Number of Views: 167
Michael Poirier reviews a new book on the sinking of the Andrea Doria by Pierette Simpson.

I was shipwrecked on the Andrea Doria


Survivors of the Titanic, Empress of Ireland and Lusitania are now gone. The next three major wrecks that still have survivors are the Morro Castle, the Athenia, and the Andrea Doria. The Andrea Doria captured everyone’s attention due to the fact video of her sinking was televised. The author, Pierette Simpson, was a pre-teen moving to a new life in Michigan with her grandparents when the ship sank. Years later, she wrote Alive on the Andrea Doria, a book praised in the maritime community for being well researched and providing much new information regarding the shipwreck.

Simpson has come back with a novel for young adults similar to her previous book. The book is part autobiographical and part fiction. We see the Andrea Doria‘s final voyage through her nine year old eyes as she and her grandparents mingle with their fellow passengers. Most of the characters are semi-fictional. The Marinos are based on the Mastrincola family, the Holmes are based on the Hills, the Yates are based on the Youngs, etc… This helps the narrative flow better, as their interactions seem more natural as do the conversations.

The book starts with Simpson, then Piera Burzio, and her grandparents leaving their small farming town for the long trip to the pier

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. As they settle aboard the ship, we see their amazement of things that were uncommon in Pranzalito such as ice sculptures, swimming pools and buffet tables. Similar themes are found in the story of the Titanic as well. In fact, the character of Mr. Yates explains the story of the Titanic to his son. He also reassures Mrs. Burzio that the Andrea Doria is pretty much unsinkable. It foreshadows the coming disaster.

Readers will appreciate the life or death struggles of the Doria’s passengers and crew when she collides with the liner, Stockholm. It was not a matter of just stepping into a lifeboat. People had to slide down ropes, climb ladders or in some cases swim to a lifeboat. The book works well to interest readers of all age groups in ships and shipwrecks. They will not be disappointed that there is no Jack and Rose. Those who have not purchased her previous book, should purchase both as they compliment each other well.

  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Brio Press (February 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-0985077600

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Shipwreck Survivor Launches Novel at the Marine Forensics Symposium in Honor of Titanic’s 100th Anniversary



Pierette Simpson


Pierette at

Andrea Doria Shipwreck Survivor and Author Will Release New Novel, I Was Shipwrecked on the Andrea Doria, at International Marine Forensics Symposium

Book, to be launched at Student Program, is geared to students age nine and above. The release coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Titanic.

NOVI, MI /MARCH 28, 2012 – Andrea Doria survivor and author, Pierette Simpson  (, will launch her second book, I Was Shipwrecked on the Andrea Doria! The Titanic of the 1950s. ( as part of a special student program at the upcoming  first International Marine Forensics Symposium near Washington, DC from April 3rd to 5th.  The student program will be Thursday, April 5th for students 12 years of age and above. The novel targets approximately the same age range.

In addition to launching her novel, Ms. Simpson will also become the first shipwreck survivor and author to collaborate with a naval architect in writing and presenting a technical paper: “The Loss of the Andrea Doria”. Earlier this year, she was appointed as member of the marine forensics committee for the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers.

The symposium will be the largest gathering of prominent scientists, archaeologists, oceanographers, engineers and authors, including P.H. Nargeolet, world-renowned pioneer in the field of deep-sea exploration; and will focus on breakthroughs and groundbreaking news related to the Titanic, which went down 100 years ago, April 15, 2012; Andrea Doria, USS Monitor, Lusitania, Bismarck and other notable shipwrecks.

“My novel is really a shipwreck anatomy intended to inspire a new generation of marine scientists who will help prevent future collisions and sinking of ocean vessels,” Simpson said. “My characters indirectly teach about ship design and its role in collision scenarios. It specifically honors the Titanic and Andrea Doria shipwrecks by drawing parallels. The book is my contribution to marine forensic science.”


As a nine-year-old immigrating to Detroit, MI with her grandparents, Pierette Simpson became one of the youngest survivors of the Andrea DoriaStockholm collision on July 25, 1956. Ms

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. Simpson’s first book, Alive on the Andrea Doria! Greatest Sea Rescue in History (, was published in 2006 for the 50th anniversary of the sea tragedy. She was recently interviewed about the recent Costa Concordia tragedy ( The author now resides in Novi, MI.


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I Was Shipwrecked on the Andrea Doria is now available!

Spring has sprung and now my new novel has sprung up on and Barnes and–in both print and e-book versions! B & N is offering a 23% discount launch price of $7.72 (reg. $9.99)
The official release is April 5 in DC and April 15 in Detroit’s Mariners Church.

Book Description and Reviews

Who will survive the most catastrophic collision ever between two ocean liners?

On July 25, 1956, after nine days of blissful travel, passengers on the Italian luxury liner Andrea Doria are hurled into a struggle for survival. As the murky fog lifts on the black Atlantic, the sea becomes a mirror in which passengers stare at death in the face. Their destinies are literally suspended on a rope—and in the hands of their fellow passengers and crew.

“Don’t jump!” we heard the crewman beg from above

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. “Wait your turn for the rope! Everybody, wait your turn!”


Written by a survivor of the catastrophic Andrea Doria-Stockholm collision, the novel is an up close and personal anatomy of a shipwreck on the Atlantic Ocean on July 25, 1956.

Life on board the safest and most beautiful passenger liner after World War II opens new portholes to the world for passengers of every age and background. We meet nine-year-old Piera (the author), shy and overly protected, immigrating to the New World with her grandparents—where she will finally “meet” her mother. The reader then “travels” First Class, where Daniel, a sixteen-year-old would-be naval architect is doing an internship with the help of his father. There is also a mysterious and fearful elderly passenger on board. Through him, all the characters intersect at the finale, in a most miraculous way.

The voyage itself sets the foundation for surviving insurmountable odds during the collision and rescue operations. Premonitions, excerpts from Moby Dick, discussions on the Titanic, and a terrible sea storm, prepare the reader for the inevitable.

Ultimately, the story is that of the “greatest sea rescue in history”.


“This story could only be told through the sensibilities of a survivor. It’s so compelling that it could be made into a movie. Yet, Ms. Simpson took measures to preserve scientific, engineering, and historical accuracy.”—William H. Garzke, Jr. Chairman of the Marine Forensics Committee, The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers.

“Simpson’s telling is a well-paced account of the ship’s decline and the families the catastrophe affected. Her female perspective helps mold a heartily compelling tale…A pleasant voyage for anyone seeking a personal history of the ocean liner.”—Kirkus Reviews

A fascinating and cinematic novel about one of history’s greatest maritime rescues.  Author and survivor, Pierette Simpson, reconstructs a suspenseful path to the actual collision that is beyond haunting— it’s chilling! Yet, through 9-year-old Piera and her grandparents we relive a story of courage and survival. A book sure to inspire young readers toward maritime science.”—Ruta Sepetys, New York Times bestselling author of Between Shades of Gray


Ms. Simpson became the first shipwreck survivor to give a complete human and scientific account of her own shipwreck with her book, Alive the Andrea Doria! The Greatest Sea Rescued in History. The author is a member of the national marine forensics committee of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers. The chairman of marine forensics endorsed her first publication for shipwreck research.

Ms. Simpson frequently speaks about shipwreck survival to local and international groups and the media.

For more information on Pierette Simpson and Alive on the Andrea Doria! The Greatest Sea Rescue in History: For watching and reading the author’s media interviews: and


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The 150th Anniversary of the Battle Between USS Monitor and Virginia

The Monitor Uninjured

Fortress Monroe, Saturday, March 8 – The dullness of Old Point was startled today by the announcement that a suspicious looking vessel, supposed to be the Merrimac, looking like a submerged house, with the roof only above water, was mowing down from Norfolk by the channel in front of the Sowel’s Point batteries. Signal guns were also fired by the Cumberland and Congress, to notify the Minnesota, St. Lawrence and Roanoke of the approaching danger, and all was excitement in and about Fortress Monroe.

There was nothing protruding above the water but a flagstaff flying the rebel flag, and a short smokestack. She moved along slowly, and turned into the channel leading to Newport’s News, and streamed direct for the frigates Cumberland and Congress which were lying at the mouth of the James River.

As soon as she came within range of the Cumberland, the latter opened on her with heavy guns, but the balls struck and glanced off, having no more effect than peas from a pop-gun. Her ports were all closed, and she moved on in silence, but with a full head of steam.

In the meantime, as the Merrimac was approaching the two frigates on one side, the rebel iron-clad steamers Yorktown and Jamestown came down James River, and engaged our frigates on the other side. The batteries at New Port’s news also opened on the Yorktown and Jamestown, and did all in their power to assist the Cumberland and Congress, which, being sailing vessels, were at the mercy of the approaching steamers.

The Merrimac, in the meantime, kept steadily on her course, and slowly approached the Cumberland, when she and the Congress, at a distance of one hundred yards, rained full broadsides on the iron-clad monster, that took, no effect, the balls glancing upwards, and flying off having only the effect of checking her progress for a moment.

After receiving the first broadside of the two frigates, she ran on to the Cumberland, striking her about midships, and literally laying open her sides. She then drew off, and fired a broadside into the disabled ship, and again dashed against her with her iron-clad prow, and knocking in her side, left her to sink while she engaged the Congress, which laid about a quarter of a mile distant.

The Congress had, in the meantime, kept up a short engagement with the Yorktown and Jamestown and having no regular crew on board of her, and seeing the hopelessness of resisting the iron-clad steamer, at once struck her colors. Her crew had been discharged several days since, and three companies of the Naval Brigade had been put on board temporarily, until she could be relieved by the St. Lawrence, which was to have gone up on Monday to take her position as one of the blockading vessels of the James River.

On the Congress striking her colors, the Jamestown approached and took from on board of her, all her officers as prisoners, but allowed the crew to escape to boats. The vessel being thus cleared, was fired by the rebels, when the Merrimac and her two iron-clad companions opened with shell and shot on the Newport’s News batteries. The firing was briskly returned. Various reports have been received. . . Some of them represent that the garrison had been compelled to retreat from the batteries to the woods. Another was that the two smaller rebel steamers had been compelled to retreat from their guns.

In the meantime the steam-frigate Minnesota, having partly got up steam, was being towed up to the relief of the two frigates, but did not get up until it was too late to assist them. She was also followed up by the frigate St

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. Lawrence, which was taken in tow by several of the small harbor steamers. It is rumored, however, that neither of these vessels had pilots on board them, and after a short engagement, both of them seemed to be, in the opinion of the pilots on the Point, aground. The Minnesota either intentionally or from necessity, engaged the three steamers at about a mile distance, with only her two bow guns. The St. Lawrence also poured in shot from all the guns one could bring to bear, and it was the impression of the most experienced naval officers on the point that both had been considerably damaged. These statements, it must be borne in mind, are all based on what could be seen by a glass at a distance of nearly eight miles, and from a few panic stricken con-combatants who fled at almost the first gun from Newport’s News.

Previous to the departure of the steamer for Baltimore, no guns had been fired for half and hour, the last one being fired from the Minnesota. Some persons declared that immediately after this last gun was fired, a volume of vapor was seen to rise from the Merrimac, indicating the explosion of her boiler. Whether this is so or not, cannot be known, but it was the opinion that the rebel monster was hard aground.

Fears were of course for the safety of the Minnesota and St. Lawrence in such an unequal contest; but if the Merrimac was really ashore, she could do no more damage. It was the intention of the Minnesota, with her picked and gathered crew, to run into close quarters with the Merrimac, avoid her iron prow and board her. This the Merrimac seemed not inclined to give her an opportunity to do.

At 8 o’clock, when the baltimore boat left, a fleet of steam-tugs were being sent up to the relief of the Minnesota and the St. Lawrence, and an endeavor was to be made to draw them off the bar on which they had grounded. In the meantime the firing had suspended; whether from mutual consent or necessity, could not be ascertained.

The battery at Pig Point was also enabled to join in the combined attack on the Minnesota, and several gates were fired at last from Sewall’s Point as she went up. None of them struck her, but one or two of them passed over her.

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Simple Courage: A True Story of Peril on the Sea

Recommended reading by my friend  Doug Kitchener  who sent along this paragraph from the book.

“When a (ship) is attacked by the weather, her master is her guardian–that requirement lies at the core of his job. He must try to save his ship

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. Only one requirement supersedes that maxim: he must first of all save any human life aboard. What he fears, however, is that his ship will somehow let him down, that when the test comes she will be found wanting. (He dare not even think about this letting her down.) No seaman ever imagines sinking–but those who have known life in such a gale never forget the havoc stemming from those iron protections upon which they had depended. … And finally a master mariner understands his lot: women and children first; the captain will be the last man to leave his ship; and he may have to go down with the ship.” ~ _Simple Courage: A True Story of Peril on the Sea_, Frank Delaney, Random House, 2006, pp. 51-52.


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New Jersey woman tells about her cruise ship survival

Cruise ship survivor tells seniors her story

Addie King and her husband, Mike Stoll, in Barcelona just before boarding the ill-fated Costa Concordia.Addie King and her husband, Mike Stoll, in Barcelona just before boarding the ill-fated Costa Concordia.

+ more images

Members of the Club L’Chaim lunch bunch gather at Congregation Brothers of Israel in Elberon to hear Addie King’s story of survival. Seniors meet Tuesdays and Thursdays for discussion groups and kosher lunch provided by Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Monmouth County. For more information, call the synagogue at 732-222-6666.


View our Camp Guide videos

by Jill Garbi
Special to NJ Jewish News

February 28, 2012

While dining with her husband on board the Costa Concordia on Jan. 13, Addie King of Brick felt a sudden shift in the cruise ship. Moments later, dishes and glasses began to slip off the tables and shatter to the floor.

Although the crew assured passengers that nothing had happened, King’s first instinct was to get out of the dining room and prepare for the worst.

A survivor of the Costa Concordia shipwreck, King told her story to 40 senior citizens at a special lecture and luncheon held Feb. 14 at Jewish Family & Children’s Service senior kosher nutrition program. The program relocated Jan. 1 from the JCC in Deal to its new home, Congregation Brothers of Israel in Elberon.

On Jan. 13, the Costa Concordia struck a rock in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the western coast of Italy. The number of confirmed dead is 25, with seven passengers out of the 4,200 on board still unaccounted for.

Five days before the wreck, King, 26, had boarded the ship with her husband, Mike Stoll, in Barcelona, Spain, after visiting her sister, who lives on the nearby island of Majorca. It was the couple’s first — and last —— cruise, said King, a graduate student in psychological counseling at Monmouth University.

While most passengers continued their meals unconcerned, King and her husband raced to their cabin, where they changed into warm clothes, coats, and sneakers. They stuffed extra sweatshirts into their backpacks, grabbed their wallets and life vests, and rushed out of their cabin.

In the hallways, lights flickered on and off, yet a cruise employee who saw the couple clutching life vests told them they didn’t need them.

“There were so many children on the ship, and we didn’t want to alarm them so we hid our vests under our coats,” King told the gathering. “We were trying to stay calm for the sake of the kids. But it was an external calm; in my head there was an internal Titanic.”

King and her husband raced to the lifeboat station that had been described in the safety video passengers viewed when they first boarded the boat. When instructions finally came, they were broadcast in a medley of languages, none of which the Kings understood. By the time the English alert was sounded, the buzz from passengers was so loud that King could not hear the message.

“It turned out that they were telling people to return to their cabins, that it was just an electrical problem,” she said. “Everyone was waiting for a signal from the captain, which never came.”

The couple waited at the lifeboat station for close to 45 minutes, holding onto a pipe to keep from slipping along the sloping deck. When passengers were told to begin boarding the lifeboats, everyone surged forward in a scene King described as chaotic. “There were so many languages and no clear communication, a lot of pushing and shoving. Our boat filled up, so we had to find another one. My husband and I were holding onto each other so we wouldn’t get separated.”

Passengers were transported to the nearby island of Giglio, where they spent a sleepless night outside. King and her husband gave away their extra sweatshirts to passengers who fled the ship dressed in evening attire. Ships arrived the next morning to take them to Tuscany, where they were then transported to the airport in Rome.

Because the passengers’ passports were held in the ship’s office, said King, most embassies sent representatives to the airport to help stranded passengers. Surprisingly, no U.S. embassy representative came to the airport, King said, so the couple had to find their way on their own.

They were able to get on a flight that evening to New York, where they were greeted with hugs and tears by King’s father.

“It wasn’t until we were home that we found out the captain had abandoned the ship,” she said. Captain Francesco Schettino faces charges of manslaughter, abandoning ship, and causing a shipwreck.

King’s inspiring lecture is just one of many programs being planned for the senior kosher nutrition program, said its director, Joanne Glassoff.

“We are so happy to be in our new home,” she said before introducing the speaker

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. “Since we started here, we have felt the warmth that is Congregation Brothers of Israel.”

“We’re very grateful that Brothers of Israel took us in with such a warm and loving welcome,” said Marlene Cohn of Oakhurst, who accompanies her mother, Doris Einhorn, to senior nutrition programs. “We’ve been able to meet and flourish and to continue our current events and Yiddish classes.”

King’s story emphasized the importance of paying attention to safety precautions, said program participant Edith Glasser of Wayside. “She lived through something traumatic and helped others in the process.”


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