Against the Sea
On her last night out, the Italian LinerAndrea Doria sliced through a gentleocean, and an awesome wall of NorthAtlantic fog closed in around her. Butthe ship's mood as she neared the U.S.was fog-free and gay. A movie (Foxfire)was running in one of Andrea Doria'sfour theaters; in the plush, boat deckBelvedere lounge, dancers swayed to therhythms of an eight-piece orchestra.Their last song: Anivederci, Roma. Inthe cardrooms, bridge foursomespondered hands. On deck late strollerstasted the mist and sniffed for landsmells. Below, passageways were linedwith baggage already packed andprepared for customs. Some passengershad retired early, and were already lulledto sleep by the soothing roll and the seasounds.Eight days earlier the fast and fancythree-year-old Andrea Dona' haddeparted her home port of Genoa andheaded for Cannes, Naples and Gibraltar.Leaving the Rock, the 29,100-ton linerraced westward on her 101st Atlanticcrossing. For Captain Piero Calamai andhis crew it was routine. For thebusinessmen, the priests and nunsreturning from Rome, the Italian-Americans ending old-country visits, theimmigrants bound for the golden shore,the crossing was an event.
On the Upper Edge. Not many miles
away, passengers aboard the Swedish-American liner Stockholm were testingtheir first night at sea. The 12,644-tonStockholm, more tourist than tony, hadsailed shortly before noon that day fromManhattan for Copenhagen. After sheslipped out into the Hudson River, sheidled in the stream while the larger(44,356 tons) Re de France swung fromher pier down the Hudson. Then in filethe two ships moved past Manhattan'stowers, out through the Narrows into theopen sea. By lt p.m. Stockholm, Re deFrance, and Andrea Doria were allchurning through the busy, often angrywater south of Nantucket, known as "theTimes Square of the North Atlantic."Through the stretch of the Atlantic,from Sheepshead Bay to the Nantucket
(c) Time, Inc. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved
bearing and beyond, runs Track Charlie,at this time of the year one of theprincipal transatlantic shipping lanes. Byroutine but not rule, westbound vesselsfollow the northern side of TrackCharlie, east-bound ships the southern.But that evening the eastboundStockhoim was holding to the northernedge. On a clear night the course holdsno serious hazard. But for three daysfog had covered the sea fromNewfoundland's banks down toNantucket. The view from a ship'sbridge was scarcely farther than the bow.Radar sets searched the seas ahead, butlong-time masters with tight schedulesreduced speed only slightly for foulweather.
Out of the Darkness. Shortly after
11 p.m. one of Andrea Doria's cardplayers looked idly out of a starboardwindow and gasped. The cause of hersudden shock: eerie lights of anothership glinting and sprinting out of thedarkness towards Andrea Doria. Amoment later, with a grinding, crunchingroar, Stockholm's knife-sharp prow(reinforced for ice in northern ports)ground 30 ft. deep into the starboardquarter of Andrea Darla, just abaft herflying bridge. Then, with a shudder andshower of sparks, the shivering vesselsjerked apart.On Andrea Doria's upper decks theexplosive collision hurled the card playersto the floor and ripped their tables fromthe sockets. Bar patrons were showeredby their nightcaps and banged by flyingglassware. Moviegoers were hurled intoscreaming heaps. Promenaders wereslammed against bulkheads. In theBelvedere lounge the dancers pickedthemselves up from the floor and dazedlyheaded toward muster stations.Below decks the crash and the quicklist of Andrea Doria lifted sleepers out ofbed and hurled them around cabins, tobe sprayed by flying porthole glass.Passengers on stairways were jerked offand slapped to the deck. Passagewayswere filled with settling dust, smokedrifted back from the long (40 ft.) gash
along the ship's starboard. Oil and watersloshed along the corridors. Over theship's loud-speaker came Italiancommands to remain calm, but they wereonly half heard or not understood.Women screamed. The tilting passage-ways, jammed with piles of baggage,jammed tighter when brusquely awaken-ed sleepers, heading for deck, metpassengers hurrying down to their cabinsto look for families and get lifejackets.Old women clutched holy pictures andwailed. Young women clutched babiesand fought for the open deck.
Crunching Echoes. The string of
first-class cabins, raked by the sharp prowof Stockholm, was in shambles. In one,New York Timesman Camille Cianfarrahad been killed; his wife lay pinned inher bed. In an adjoining room hisdaughter and stepdaughter were shotthrough the shredded hull.— Inanothercabin Thure S. Peterson, New Jerseychiropractor, tried to free his wifeMartha, caught in the wreckage. Shedied within minutes, spine and legsbroken. Colonel Walter J. Carlin ofBrooklyn staggered out of a bathroomafter the crash to find that his wife andhis cabin had vanished. CinemactressRuth Roman rushed into her stateroom,woke her sleeping three-year-old sonDickie, told him calmly, "We are goingon a picnic."The crunching echoes of the crashwere still dying as wireless operatorsaboard the two ships sparked through thefog a twelve-dash automatic alarm signalto trip alert bells in radio rooms at seaand monitor stations along the U.S.coastline. As receiving operators loggedthe time —11:22 p.m. E.D.T. —a crisplyurgent message from Andrea Doriafollowed on the 500 Kc. internationaldistress band: sos...coLuslom..gr 30 N.
60' 53' W...SEND IMMEDIATE ASSISTANCE.
The Wait for Salvation. On Andrea
Doria electric lights flickered but burnedbright again. Under their calming glow,the momentary panic ebbed. Passengersin nightgowns and pajamas joined othersin evening dress on a deck slanting firstat 25*, then at a steep 35*. Most had
Named in honor of the 16th centuryprince and admiralwho commanded the Republitof Genoa's navy in sea battles againstFrancis I of Franceand theBarbarypirates (and who lived to be 94). On November17, 1776, the American Brig Andrea Dona, sailing into the harbor of Saint Eustatius, Dutch WestIndies, received a nine-gun salute, the first salute ever rendered a U.S. naval vessel in a foreign port.StepdaughterLinda Morgan (daughter of Radio Commentator Edward P Morgan), in the most unbelievableescape of the collision, was found semi-conscious on crumpled bowplates of Stockholm, obviously had been scooped up by the bow in the crash, borne off as the Swedish ship pulled away.