Andrea Doria, Sinking Slowly into History

DATELINE: End of Luxury Ship Travel

doria

The List of Andrea Doria.

An Italian documentary, it may be suspect as having some prejudice in favor of the Italian liner that came to its doom in 1956. The Sinking of the Andrea Doria may be the opposite of Titanic’s helpless 1500 fatalities, where 1200 lived off Andrea Doria and a few dozen unfortunates met their deaths.

The film is an abject lesson about what might have been recorded on Titanic if the accident occurred during daylight to see the sinking, and if there had been modern media. Andrea Doria seemed also quaint in its destruction in a technological age. Yet ships still did not directly communicate, and radar in fog seemed unreliable. The real problem again is human error.

On its 101st voyage across the Atlantic, with an aging captain ready for his last trip, in summer, there could not be any icebergs. It was far worse when a direct impact slice into its side. Slower to sink, with more rescue ships nearby, the death toll was nowhere as bad as 50 years earlier.

Indeed, if you are waiting for parallels to be drawn between this luxury ship, believed the height of technology in 1950s futuristic mechanics, and its counterpart, the unsinkable Titanic, you may wait a long time.

RMS Titanic is mentioned but twice in regard to lifeboat numbers. The connection is never more than: Andrea Doria had enough lifeboats to save everyone; they just were listing so badly that half of them could not be launched. That was the panic and horror.

This ship, like Titanic, was an art museum on water. Each was meant to be a playground for first-class elite. And, each kept other classes separate and discrete: indeed, third-class was now “tourist class.” And, they had their own swimming pool, but never would the big money gentry meet the under-privileged.

The likes of Cary Grant, Joan Crawford, Ty Power, Orson Welles, and other grand stars often took the slow, luxurious week-long sail across the ocean. The film never mentions the only big star on board: Ruth Roman who lost her jewels, not her life.

Unlike Titanic, Andrea Doria’s demise likely put the cap on all luxury ships. Jet aircraft became the safer rage.

The Stockholm hit the Andrea Doria like a can opener on a can of baked beans. It killed over 50 people in the collision. One girl was thrown off her bed in the ship into the open hole that was the offending smaller ship.

If you were looking for blame, try the old chestnut term: “cover up.”

Both ships were represented by Lloyd’s of London who conspired to hush up everything they could. Worse for the Italians, they didn’t know how to handle media—and the Swedes put their story out, blaming the former allies of Hitler for the problem.

Not until recently did the story come out fully: and the Swedish third mate, Carstens, may have been at the eye of the trouble.

The Andrea Doria took a dozen hours to sink, giving media a chance to film its demise into 76 meters of ocean. Unlike Titanic, this modern ship was dangerously dive-able—and no one mentions the idiots who died trying to salvage the Italian liner.

As telling as this documentary is, it seems to miss out on much information.