50th Anniversary Andrea Doria


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Aug 29, 2000
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Tomorrow's the day to remember and most of the networks are marking the anniversary in some way. AOL news is running an article as well as the Nantucket newspaper online (courtesy of Mike Poirier) http://www.ack.net/AndreaDoria072006.html

A TV special about the disaster will be shown
on PBS's "Secrets of the Dead" Wednesday night, July 26. In Cleveland,
the special will air at 8:00 p.m. on WVIZ channel 25. Check your local
listings for the time in your area.
 
Apr 27, 2005
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It's a bit odd to remark on it, but as I type this, I can recall exactly where I was 50 years ago this moment. I was just turned six years old and sitting on the edge of my father's bed, in Mineola, N.Y. His bedside Zenith clock radio was on, and I was listening to John Daley reporting live from an airplane as he described the "Andrea Doria" bubbling the ocean as it disappeared beneath him.
How many times in your life are you privileged to know exactly what you were doing, fifty years after the fact?
This moment started a life-long love of ocean liner history.
"Doria" & "Stockholm" crew and passengers, lost and saved, I remember you all.
 
Aug 29, 2000
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We are about the same vintage Richard- and although I was only five years old, I remember sitting with my grandparents in front of the huge old console TV with the tiny screen watching news footage of the ship in black and white on the evening news. Made quite an impression. Nothing is more chilling than to watch that last gulp as the waves close over a sinking ship.
 
Apr 27, 2005
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Shelley: I think we all interpret that in a unique manner. For me, I think about the physical aspects of what is happening to the vessel itself as it goes under. The heat provided by the sun, absorbed in the ship's hull is immediately pulled away by the cold ocean water. The shifting of contents and cargos depends on air evacuation, invasive currents, and gravity. The loosening of doors, hatches, guy wires, and the like, all depends on the depth and speed of descent. The "Andrea Doria" had a relatively short descent, grinding her starboard bow railings and bridge wing into the seabed before the stern had disappeared. Other ships, like some found at depths of a mile or more, actually tear apart and suffer compartment implosions, ala' "Titanic" and the M.V. "Derbyshire". The ships settle remarkably soon after they hit bottom, and in that manner, lay for perhaps eternity, unmoved. The only changes are structural as corrosion and currents sweep over and through the wreckage. Biological changes are apparent even in deep water. The fascination for me has always been to figure out and perhaps see what happened in the moment and over time. When you contemplate the time in which we've know the "Andrea Doria", there is remarkably more of her left that her sister ship or fleet successors.
Thanks for responding to my post. It's good to meet another person with a similar view in the exact span of time and experience.
 
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Kyle Johnstone

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In Pierette Domenica Simpson's book, survivor Mike Stoller recounts how he momentarily considered taking his new movie camera up on deck with him as he and his wife were evacuating their cabin.

Can you imagine the scenes he may have been able to film?
It would have become as famous as the JFK Zapruder footage or the Hindenberg footage.

Alas, good sense overcame him and he thought to himself "no way, I'm not carrying anything but the lifejackets"...
 

Mike Poirier

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Hi Kyle
Bill Wormstedt was asking in another thread, more about the book. Could you fill him in?
Glad to meet someone who has a copy, I would have bought one, but Pierette is sending me a signed copy. Although, I may be some for Christmas gifts. We published a preview chapter in Voyage and it was well written.
Mike
 
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Kyle Johnstone

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Hi Michael,

I have not finished the technical/legal/investigative parts of the book, so I cannot comment on that.

However, the personal accounts of survival and rescue, all in first-person, are alone worthwhile.
Beginning with the author's own story, first-person accounts by other survivors follow. At the end of these accounts are updates of a couple of paragraphs or more on life after the Andrea Doria.

In this book is the first time I have seen first-person accounts by Ruth Roman and Linda Morgan.
 

Jerry Nuovo

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I did video tape last night's documentary on PBS about the Andrea Doria and I do now think that it is mostly the fault of the Stockholm's third officer Carstens-Johannsen that this accident happened.Carstens-Johannsen had misread the radar thinking that it was set on a 15 mile scale and that the Andrea Doria was farther away.But the radar was actually set on a 5 mile scale and the Andrea Doria was much closer to the Stockholm than Carstens-Johannsen thought.
 
Apr 27, 2005
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The documentary was outstanding, complete with all manner of publicity film at the launch and in her service life. Much of the film was in color, which was remarkable for the 50's, but some of the b&w film was computer colorized, with varying degrees of effectiveness. The interviews were well documented and reenacted. The actor portraying Capt. Calamai was excellent. The computerized reaction of the actual collision served well to recreate the scenes on the bridge and passenger reactions, portrayed by actors.
One particular comment I have, was the fact that in post-war 1950's anti-Italian predjudice was very much alive, and the producers didn't hedge from reality in reporting it.
The interview with Carsten-Johannsen, coupled with Alvin Moscow's take on him in the his book, pretty much solidifies the view that Carstens-Johannsen didn't respond as a seasoned officer should have, and immediately went into C.Y.A. mode with his story. Stick to your story long enough, and you start believing it yourself. Certainly there were errors on both ships, but the cause of the collision was likely poor navigation on the part of the bridge officer aboard "Stockholm".
With regard to David Bright, I would say that he was so obsessed with the "Doria" that he dedicated his whole being to becoming personally integrated with the ship's story. I would love to know what he learned on those few last dives to the ship. Perhaps David should not have been diving on that ship but was riveted on getting his "mission" accomplished. I don't know. I thought the program producers showed compassion and class by dedicating the presentation to David Bright.
One last comment. Though the story has been told before regarding Piero Calamai's last hours of life, I take it a great tragedy that this nobleman of the Atlantic service never was able to find the strength to read the letter which clearly stated from an investigative study, that he had no guilt in the collision. Piero Calamai took the high road, and shouldered an unfair burden the rest of his life.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Stick to your story long enough, and you start believing it yourself.<<

And I think he does believe there was no fog despite documented evidence from sixty other vessels including the Nantucket Lightship which states otherwise.

As to mistakes made on both sides, I wouldn't quibble with that. This isn't referred to as history's first radar assisted collision for nothing, and it doesn't help that each ship was operating under different assumptions as to what the rules of the road were.
 

Ryan Thompson

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Dec 6, 2005
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In Pierette Domenica Simpson's book, survivor Mike Stoller recounts how he momentarily considered taking his new movie camera up on deck with him as he and his wife were evacuating their cabin. Can you imagine the scenes he may have been able to film? It would have become as famous as the JFK Zapruder footage or the Hindenberg footage.

Apparently a number of photos were taken by an Andrea Doria passenger right after the collision, I read it another thread. It sounds like they haven't been published, however. It sounds like a lot more photos were taken by Stockholm passengers from their ship.

Also, on an unrelated note, wasn't the ship's safe brought up some years ago and opened? There were bundles of paper currency inside. Much of it was restored and then framed as historical artifacts. That was the Andrea Doria, right?

Thanks,
Ryan Thompson
 

John Clifford

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Today I found myself wishing that, somewhere, someone has copies of two 1970s specials that dealt with disasters.

The first special was called "Disasters, How and Why", and it was narrated by meteorologist Doctor George Fishbeck, who was the weatherman on local station KABC, Channel 7.
One of the episodes dealt with the Andrea Doria - Stockholm collision, and it featured a report from a reporter who covered the Doria's final moments. Richard, it might have been John Daley whose broadcast was shown.

BTW, Doctor George Fishbeck grew up in New Jersey, so he remembered seeing the various dirigibles, including the Hindenburg, arriving at Lakehurst (I don't think, though, he was there, in person, when the Hindenburg was lost), and he had quite a love of seeing the airships (he said the Goodyear blimp reminds him so much of that time).

Doctor George also remembered going to Asbury Park to see the remains of the Morro Castle; that calamity was also one of the disasters mentioned. That series of specials ran in 1977.

Then, in 1978, CBS ran a program called "When Havoc Struck", each episode of which chronicled various types of disasters. Glen Ford narrated that series.
The second-to-last episode dealt with ship disasters, and it featured an interview from one man who had nightmares about the Andrea Doria sinking.
Also interviewed were two women who were on the Morro Castle. One of them remembered, vividly, calling the ship's operator, and being told "Well, yes, there is a fire on board" (in the early moments of that disaster).

Does anyone else remember those two series/specials, and who those people were?
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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> "When Havoc Struck", Also interviewed were two women who were on the Morro Castle. One of them remembered, vividly, calling the ship's operator, and being told "Well, yes, there is a fire on board" (in the early moments of that disaster).

>Does anyone else remember those two series/specials, and who those people were?

WHEN HAVOC STRUCK! Boy, does that bring back memories. Talk about evocative theme music! I was in the middle of my "any disaster phase" at that time, and recall the Morro Castle segment very well! I'm not sure that they ever gave a name to the women but as a child I guessed, from internal evidence, that they were Charlotte and Ethel Suhr. Now, I suspect that it might have been the Prince sisters. While I was gathering information for my Morro Castle article I advertised for that episode but apparently none of the 1500 households who owned home video equipment in 1977 taped it! Should you find a copy, PLEASE let me know!
 
Aug 29, 2000
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Ryan- yes, it was the Doria safe opened on TV. I am thinking it was the Peter Gimball dive featured on that program and I seem to remember a glamorous blonde partner out on the dive too. I recall being a little disappointed to see wet money fall out-of course not every ship carries the jewelled edition of the Rubiyat!
 
Jul 12, 2005
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"When Havoc Struck" was one of the productions Bill Tantum of THS worked on. I remember seeing the episode with the Titanic and Eastland at one of our officer's meetings. Bill said the production company bought footage from "A Night to Remember" that wasn't in the final production because it was cheaper. There was a scene of the ship sinking that showed the roof of the sound stage and on television, the top part of the frame would be cut off anyway, so they used it. We watched the show on 16mm film at the meeting, so I imagine THS archives has a 16mm print of that particular episode. Robert H. Gibbons
 
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