1953 - 1956
Italians and their ships had not been the most wanted on the seas at any
time before the 1930s. But in 1933 the Italian Line commissioned
their new champion; the Rex. The Rex was something really
special; it was the largest ship ever built in Italy, and it had the speed
resources to take the Blue Riband from the German ship Bremen. This
also happened, and the Rex possessed the prize until Normandie
took it from her in 1935. The Rex was also an enormous ship; she
was over 50,000 tons and 880 feet long. But the pride of the Italians did
not last long. During World War 2, on September 8, 1944, the Rex
was set afire and sunk by Allied bombers near Trieste. The wreckage was
gradually scrapped between 1947 and 1958.
|The new pride of Italy
takes to the water.
the hostilities, Italy had lost half their merchant fleet and was not able
to show the world how good a seafaring-state they were. But in the beginning
of the 1950s, it was decided that the Italian Line should build
two new vessels to re-establish Italy’s pride. They were to be named Andrea
Doria and Cristoforo Colombo. The size would not live up to
the pre-war giants, and nor would the speed be in reach for the Blue Riband.
But the ships should symbolise Italy’s new start after the lost war, and
what was going to be the main thing about the sisters was their luxury,
and prestige. But at almost 30,000 tons and 700 feet in length, it was
not small ships that the Ansaldo Shipyard had to build.
16, 1951 the Andrea Doria was launched. She was the first of her
siblings and all the attention was thus focused on her. The huge mass of
people that had gathered to witness the ship’s launch cheered and cheered
and there seemed to be no termination of the happiness the Andrea Doria
had given them. The ship did not only symbolise the new Italy; it also
brought the Italian’s minds back to the leading position Italy had during
the 16th century. The name ‘Andrea Doria’ itself was fetched
from one of Genoa’s greatest sea heroes, and that certainly did not make
the Italian’s minds any milder. Andrea Doria’s sister’s name’s origin
Doria and her sister were ships not only admired for its beautiful
interiors. Her external design was beautiful, and the proportions were
almost perfectioned. A long black hull, on which a superstructure that
grew towards the middle, housed one white funnel with a red top. Naturally,
she followed her earlier sisters as the Rex and the Conte de
Savoia, but as always it was the pioneering Normandie from 1935
that had set the pattern.
thing that the new ships were celebrated for was their safety. The Andrea
Doria and her sister had hulls that were
divided into eleven watertight
compartments. Any two of these could be filled with water without endangering
the ship’s safety. Another safety precaution was that her lifeboats (she
had enough of them) could be lowered at a maximum list of twenty degrees.
No one was ever afraid to board the new flagship of the Italian Line.
|A lovely colour photo
showing the Andrea Doria's well-proportioned lines.
though the 1950s today seems as the decade of flight and retirement
of the ocean liners, the beginning of the decade was in one way a golden
age for North Atlantic ship companies. It was after the war, and everyone
had to rebuild, and thereby show the rest of the world how able they were,
and how little the war had affected them. For instance, in America the
United States was launched, the everlasting holder of the Blue Riband,
along with numerous other North American ships.
14, 1953 Andrea Doria set out on her maiden voyage. After a brief
stop at Cannes, she went through ‘the lock of the Mediterranean’ - Gibraltar
- and then set off to New York. During this crossing it was noticed and
confirmed that the ship had serious problems with her stability. Just as
it had been predicted when a model was tested in water, the Andrea Doria
gained too high a list when placed out of position by a large wave or any
other significant nature force. When the new ship reached Nantucket outside
North America’s coast she was struck by a wave so mighty that it gave the
Andrea Doria a list of 28 degrees. The great list was partly explained
by the fact that all her water supplies were emptied, as the custom is
at the end of a crossing. But the fact that she had a problem with instability
could never be escaped from entirely.
that had commanded the Andrea Doria on her maiden voyage was Piero
Calamai, a skilled captain that had the Italian Line’s full confidence. Even
though he was a very good captain, he was not the sort of captain that
sat and chatted with the passengers during the voyage. He used to retire
to his cabin between his duties, and was almost portrayed as a shy person.
But this shy man was very caring about his ship and wanted to have full
control of everything that occurred on the ship he commanded. He was also
a very conservative man, who put little trust in modern technique. He preferred
to use his own eyes in front of radar machines and such. Ever since the
maiden trip, Calamai had been the captain on Andrea Doria, his last
voyage with the ship was decided to be a late July-crossing in 1956. Then
he was supposed to be transferred to the Cristoforo Colombo.
|A nice aerial view of Italian Line's
voyage started out as every other crossing and soon had Andrea Doria
left the greater part of the Atlantic behind her. The ship’s staterooms
and lounges were filled with people who enjoyed the comforts of an Atlantic
crossing by ship. The vessel was almost filled to capacity, and this showed
how popular and successful Italy’s new ship was.
same time, on July 25, 1956 the Swedish American Line’s Stockholm
prepared for her departure from New York to Göteborg. She was scheduled
to depart at 11.31 am, and was under the command of Captain Gunnar Nordenson.
He, just as Piero Calamai, was a very skilled captain who had entered the
sea-business in 1911, and became a captain in 1918. He had never been involved in any serious
accident on his ships. His present ship, the Stockholm was a ship
that differed from others on the North Atlantic. It was about half the
size of the Andrea Doria and five knots slower. She was the smallest
ship in the Swedish American Line. She had entered service in 1948
as a combined passenger- and cargo-ship. She only had two classes in which
passengers travelled; first class and tourist class. On this voyage she
carried 534 passengers (almost full, considering her 570-passenger-capacity),
only 18 of them in first class.
two ships approached Nantucket, the weather was absolutely clear as far
as the Stockholm was concerned. Coming from the other way, Captain
Calamai was very well aware of the fog in which he steamed through. He
and Nordenson was closing up on each other at two parallel courses, but
was not aware of each other’s presence; the radar could not reach that
far. Actually, it was not Nordenson on the bridge at this very moment.
It was Johan-Ernst Carstens-Johannsen, or as his friends called him: Carstens.
He was a young man of twenty-six, but very experienced for his age.
Carstens noticed a ship some one-and-a-half miles ahead and slightly to
his port. He realised that the two ships would pass within one mile of
each other, and Captain Nordenson had said that the distance should be
at least one mile. So he ordered Stockholm to turn slightly to starboard
in order to increase the distance.
|Poolside leasure time
on the Andrea Doria's Lido Deck.
Andrea Doria, Second Officer Curzio Francini discovered the Stockholm
somewhat earlier due to their slightly more powerful radar. He alerted
Captain Calamai, who saw that the approaching ship was almost dead ahead.
The danger was not immediate, and the two men discussed on which side they
would pass the other vessel. They decided to turn to port in order to avoid
could not believe what had just happened. The other ship was turning the
same way he was. He ordered his ship hard to starboard, but maintained
Andrea Doria’s bridge, Captain Calamai was just as confused as Carstens,
just a few minutes before. He turned his ship even more to port, but did
not reduce the speed. The effect of having an unstable ship of 30,000 tons
run at almost 22 knots at hard to port made the great ship skid towards
Carstens saw this he ordered the engines put full astern, and maintained
two courses the ships were doomed. When the Stockholm was almost
put to a full stop, the Andrea Doria came skidding with her starboard
side into Stockholm’s bow. The Swedish liner’s knife-sharp bow cut
through Andrea Doria’s hull like it was made of butter. The Andrea
Doria continued her 22-knot-race whilst the Stockholm stood
still, badly damaged and very confused.
Andrea Doria gained a twenty-degree list to starboard. Her engines
were ordered to a halt, and Captain Calamai ordered the crew to uncover the lifeboats.
That Andrea Doria was seriously damaged was quite obvious for the
passengers and information to enter the boat deck for them was not required.
of that the damage was in-between two different watertight compartments
and the fact that the ship had such a large list to starboard sealed the
Andrea Doria’s fate. Since the list very quickly entered twenty
degrees and thereafter slowly, but steadily increased, the portside lifeboats
were useless. Another contributing factor was that between the generator
room and the fuel tanks, in two different compartments, there was no watertight
door. Water rushed through the open tunnel and made the bulkhead useless.
So there she was; one of the sisters that were the newest and safest in
Italy’s hands, sinking with lifeboat accommodations insufficient for those
|The Andrea Doria
awaiting her inevitable end.
had also suffered badly from the collision. But she had been hit head-on,
which is much better than to be hit on one’s side. The Stockholm’s
damage did not quite reach her first watertight compartment, and as long
as that held, she was not in any immediate danger.
had taken place in a spot on Andrea Doria that had much passenger
accommodation. About fifty people were killed in the collision. One of
those who miraculously were saved from this fate was Linda Morgan, a fourteen-year-old
girl. She was thrown onto the Stockholm’s bow as it passed her bed,
and remained on it when Stockholm tore herself loose from Andrea
Doria’s hull. She was found by a crewman on the Stockholm who
could speak Linda’s mother-tongue; Spanish, and that comforted her some
before she could be rejoined to her somewhat reduced family. Her sister
had died in the collision.
Calamai still hoped that his ship could be towed to safety before it sank,
but of course he sent for assistance. One of the ships that answered the
call was the French liner Île de France. They hesitated at first,
eager to remain on schedule, but soon set after the ill-fated liner. At
42,000 tons, the Île de France certainly had room to house extra
passengers. Many other ships were on the scene when the Île de France
arrived, among them the Stockholm who had sent out lifeboats to
pick up the Andrea Doria’s passengers. All the passengers that were
on the Andrea Doria, except for the ones that died in the collision
were saved. In all, only 46 people perished.
hours after the collision had taken place, the Andrea Doria finally
capsized and placed herself at some 250 feet depth. The Stockholm
lowered her flag and blew her whistles to say good-bye. Captain Calamai
had at first refused to leave his ship, but after some successful persuading
from his officers with the assurance that all the passengers were safe,
he finally agreed to step into a rescuing boat. He spent the rest of his
life in sorrow, as if he had lost a son, someone claimed. His last words
before his death were: ‘Is everything all right? Are the passengers safe?’
was repaired in New York and resumed Atlantic service rather soon. Captain
Gunnar Nordenson was given the privilege to command the Swedish White Viking
Line’s new flagship, the 23,000-tonner Gripsholm. Johan-Ernst Carstens-Johannsen
followed him as an officer. The Swedes were absolutely sure they had committed
no wrong, and that is proved by this. But the Italian Line did not trust
Captain Piero Calamai. He was never given the trust of commanding any of
their ships anymore.
|The wreck of the Andrea
Doria. Although draped in fishing nets and the mast and funnel gone,
she is still in good condition. (Painting by Ken Marschall)
the disaster hearings in New York neither the Andrea Doria nor the
Stockholm was given the responsibility of the disaster, and since
there never was a trial, no one has ever been blamed until this day.
the Andrea Doria is rather easy to reach, she has had visitors numerous
times. Both welcomed visitors and others not so welcome. The wreck has
been totally looted for many years. In 1995 Dr. Robert Ballard, the man
who found the Titanic, went down to the sunken Andrea Doria
in a nuclear-powered U-boat. The ship is wonderfully preserved, even better
than the Britannic with her broken bow. Some parts of her superstructure
such as the bridge has corroded away, but except for that and all the fishing
nets draping her, she is the perfect shipwreck.
Doria - Specifications:
powering two propellers.
by Per-Ivar Andersson
in most cases with ships involved in collisions, you can divide the course
of event into two parts: first; how did the collision occur, and second;
why did the ship or ships sink.
Who is to blame
for the collision? It is not an easy question to answer with certainty
according to circumstances that appeared in the preliminary hearings beginning
on September 19th.
In the preliminary
hearings the Stockholm’s Third Officer Carstens-Johannsen was the
first witness and was to be heard for a fourteen days of cross-examinations.
When you are reading the report of the proceedings you are bound to make
the impression that the representative of the Italian Line tried to use
the fact that Mr Carstens-Johannsen was a relative young person for his
rank, which he was, and according to his age he was rather inexperienced,
which he was not.
showed him to have had some problems with the helmsman who had shown more
interest for what happened around him than for the work at the helm. Because
of that the officers in charge had to control him very often.
was a verbal dispute if there was fog in the air or not. The Stockholm’s
third officer did not admit there to be any fog at all around his ship
and was given the question why he then was not able to see the lights from
the Andrea Doria when the radar told him she was not even two nautical
was to admit there might have been a spot of fog around the other ship,
but at the time being he did not think this was the case because of the
high speed of the other ship, which he had plotted on the radar.
Line’s representative then tried to prove the Stockholm to be approaching
fog, the officer in charge must have been aware of this and therefore should
have reduced the speed of his ship. Again the witness must explain the
absence of fog around his ship. Furthermore he had to explain over and
over again that the Stockholm could be brought to a complete stop
in less than a nautical mile, and therefore he had waited until he could
see the lights of the other ship before he changed his course.
Then he was
yelled at and accused for being aware of finding the Andrea Doria
straight ahead or even on his starboard bow. This caused a long dispute
between the representatives of the companies before Mr Carstens-Johannsen
denied the accuse.
All of his
testimonies were confirmed of the other two men on the on the bridge and
the man in the crow’s nest. They confirmed the absence of fog, the third
officer had plotted the approach of the other ship and all of the three
was absolutely sure they had seen the other ship to port before she had
turned abeam of the bow of the Stockholm.
Nordensson was to witness. On the third day he suddenly became ill and
had a breakdown. He was sent to hospital for two weeks and a further four
weeks for recovery for a minor braintrombosis. None of the representatives
had understood how completely exhausted the sixty-three year old captain
was after having listened to the long hearings of his third officer and
Captain Calamai of the Andrea Doria, not to mention all the heavy
works in the evenings aboard the Stockholm, which was laying docked
his testimony he was immovable in his defence of Mr Carstens-Johannsen.
Though, one weak point occurred under his witness. At first he ensured
that his ship always reduced speed in case of fog. In accordance to the
Stockholm's logbook he was finally forced to admit that he had passed
through fog in full speed in several occasions, but as Carstens-Johannsen
had told earlier, Captain Nordensson had a full confidence in the Stockholm’s
'enormous capability to come to a complete stop', which allowed her to
speed at 19 knots when fog sometimes was noted in the logbook.
Calamai was questioned, the Svenska Amerika Linjen’s representative soon
came to the crux of the matter. He simply asked the Andrea Doria’s
captain if he had any special training in radar techniques. He denied.
Then he was asked if Second Officer Francini had any special training in
radar techniques. He once again denied. Had any of the three officers on
the bridge been plotting the radar observations of the approaching Stockholm?
Captain Calamai thought it was not needed because it was a parallel course.
Though, he admitted that the instructions ordered plotting, but the plotting
table had not been used that evening, and was not commonly used because
it was considered not necessary.
What had happened
to the Andrea Doria logbooks was a most confusing matter. The only
saved papers were the captain’s private logbook, two secret books regarding
the N.A.T.O., all of the crews' documents and a piece of the ship's course-recorder.
Though, the Italian Line’s office in New York had announced all the logbooks
to be saved and had been sent to Genoa.
During a long
interrogation Captain Calamai declared how the logbooks had been left on
the sinking ship. He had given the order to save the logbooks but not to
a particular officer. It was simply a matter of unclear orders where one
officer took for granted another one should be obeying the order. Furthermore,
neither the machine- nor the radiologbooks were saved. They had simply
been forgotten when the order came to abandon the ship.
time the questions of the logbooks were asked for during the cross examinations
of Captain Calamai and the other officers of the Andrea Doria. Those
books should have played a vital part when to reconstruct the course, positions
and manoeuvres of the Italian ship before the collision. Because of this
there could not be an answer to the final question: How could the radar
show the Stockholm to be on the starboard bow of the Andrea Doria
and the Andrea Doria on the port bow of the Stockholm? There
are only two solutions to that problem; either one of the radars were incorrect
or one of the men who observed the radars were misreading it.
Under the inquiry
Captain Calamai made the silent admission that he at least partly was guilty
for the collision, because he had had the command of a ship which had sailed
through the fog at practically full speed.
of the Swedish company showed a great interest in the stability of the
Andrea Doria and what measures had been taken to save the ship after
the collision. Captain Calamai showed a surprising lack of knowledge in
questions relating to the stability of his ship. He answered one question
after the other with 'I don’t know', or 'I don’t remember'. He declared
the Andrea Doria to be constructed in accordance to international
regulations. The captain further admitted that he after the collision gave
no instructions what so ever to the engine room what to do to save the
Calamai showed several important distances and bearings where the Stockholm
had been observed before the collision. According to this it showed up
the course between the ships to be not parallel but clearly a collision-course,
which Captain Calamai with silent voice had to admit.
Then he was shown
another plot, based on the captain’s testimony, which clearly proved the
distance between the two ships to decrease into a collision-course despite
the four-degree-turn from the Andrea Doria for the purpose of increasing
the distance. Captain Calamai was then asked if Second Officer Francini,
who was observing the radar, had reported to him the decreasing distance
to the other ship in spite of the Andrea Doria’s four-degree-turn
and if he then should have continued without reducing speed. ‘No’, the
captain answered, ‘I should immediately have stopped the engines, then
gone full astern and possibly turned starboard after signalling for a starboard
Officer Francini's testimony it appeared that plotting radar observations
was not a custom in open waters under the command of Captain Calamai. If
he had been plotting that evening he admitted he should have seen the Stockholm’s
turn to starboard.
In the beginning
of 1957 the case was withdrawn just before the Andrea Doria engineers
should have been called as witnesses. Why?
was probably a report concerning the instructions of stability that was
worked out for the Italian Line by the Ansaldo Shipyard. What the Swedish
company’s lawyers found in this report has never been published.
On the other hand,
a U.S. committee made a detached investigation regarding the collision
and the investigation was published the same month. This committee announced
among other things:
shows the Andrea Doria to fulfil the regulations of the 1948 Convention
of Safety for Shipping concerning the dividing up in watertight compartments
with a very small margin. In ‘the stability report’ states the ship to
be able to fulfil even the regulations of stability in the 1948 Convention
provided that she was permanently ballasted with substantial and specified
quantities of liquid in her different tanks. It seems impossible to explain
the behaviour of the ship immediately after the collision on July 25th
1956 in no other way than with the assumption that she on this occasion
was not ballasted in accordance with this instruction.’
When the bow
of the Stockholm pierced just into the sections where the fuel tanks
were placed, the Andrea Doria was doomed because of the absence
of the ballast. The report of the committee stated the fact that the Andrea
Doria probably only had one third of the stability her shipbuilders
demanded. If the Andrea Doria had been correctly ballasted, she
should not have received more than seven degrees of list or at worst fifteen
degrees. Then the port lifeboats could have been used, or probably there
would have been no use for them at all! It seems that Andrea Doria
sunk not because of the collision, but the ship not being sufficiently
stable because of the lack of ballast.
to the Stockholm? She was repaired at Bethlehem Steel Company Shipbuilding
Division in Brooklyn N.Y. at a cost of 1,000,000 U.S. dollars and sailed
for many years for the Svenska Amerika Linjen. After several voyages she
was in 1960 sold to the D.D.R. and renamed Völkerfreundschaft.
Then she was disposed off to Norway and became a floating hotel under the
name of Fritiof Nansen. She lay rusting and finally she was sold
as scrap to an Italian company. After a close inspection she was found
in very good condition and appeared to be a very solid built ship except
for the American-repaired bow and the company decided to restorate her
and gave her the name of Italia Prima. She is today a cruising ship
for wealthy people and visited Sweden a few years ago.