‘She Made It to NY an Orphan’: Surviving Andrea Doria’s Final Voyage

Tragedy, heroism and survivor stories defined the fateful night of July 25, 1956.

The Andrea Doria — an opulent, 697-foot Italian ocean liner that ferried travelers from Genoa to New York — has spent the last 60 years in a watery grave, 240 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.

Doria made 100 transatlantic trips after setting sail in 1953, but tragedy struck on July 25, 1956, as the ship approached high-traffic waters in deep fog near the East Coast, south of Nantucket.

Radar miscues and poor visibility set the Stockholm — a 524-foot Swedish passenger liner — and the Doria on a collision course. The Stockholm slammed into the Italian ship like a battering ram, killing 51 people in all.

As the Doria slowly slipped beneath the waves, a heroic emergency evacuation was launched to save the more than 1,600 passengers and crew who were aboard the doomed ship.

Here are some of the survivors’ stories, and the recollections of those who watched the fateful event unfold:

Valerie A. Nadalini A neighbor of my grandparents was on the ship and survived. She managed to hang onto her purse the entire time and brought back the earrings grandpa’s family sent with her as a gift to grandma. I have those earrings and treasure them greatly…

Diana Domingues I watched it sink on TV with my Italian mom…Something you never forget…

Andrea Mazzella After the sinking of the Andrea Doria – my parents told me that some of the sailors came to our apartment for clothing – they came from the same town that my father came from.

Joe Parrelli Around 1983 I met a woman who came here with her parents to start anew on that trip. She was 11 at that time and both of her parents perished in that collision. She made it to NY an orphan.

Joanne Barbara My grandmother was on the previous trip to New York.

Kathy Hall My godparents were aboard the Andrea Doria returning from a trip to Italy. Will never forget how worried we were until they called to tell us they were OK.

Marie Brys A beautiful ship that brought me to America in 1953, very sad when she sank.

Rosemary Marrello Gallina I was on the ship with my family to see my grandfather off on a trip to the ‘old country’ a year or so before this. I always remember how beautiful it was.

Artie Lamparella I remember the Andrea Doria, in those days going down to the pier and waiting for those ships to come in or going with relatives when they would be returning to Italy. I must have been about 7 years old on that beautiful ship, so stately and majestic. When that ship went down our whole neighborhood was in mourning.

Michele Ann Ganschow-Laskorski My father told me how his aunt and uncle went to Italy on the Andrea Doria; they were supposed to be on this ship for the return trip home but luckily things kept them in Italy longer than expected. My grandmother would always rave about how beautiful the ship was.

Sue Barnacost My Aunt, Uncle and their children were on board. Thankfully they all survived.

Amelia Silvestri Staylor Brings back many memories of this time. Two years later In 1958, I was 16 yrs old, Mom & I went to Italy on her sister ship, the Cristofolo Colombo. A gorgeous new ship!

Ann Pompa Char My family traveled on the Andrea Doria the summer before this happened. I often think of how different our lives would be if the accident took place just one year earlier. It was a beautiful ship.

Louis Joseph Apa I remember this event and was saddened by the tragic sinking and intrigued by this happening. I lived in the NYC, NY area at the time. The Andrea Doria sister ship was the SS Cristoforo Colombo…My sainted mother and I took a passage on this sister ship to Europe in 1961, and the ship was a glorious one and the food was super, to me, a 16 year old first generation Italian.

Read more contributions regarding the sinking of the Andrea Doria, here:

The Stockholm slammed into the Andrea Doria in July 1956, killing 51 people. At age 9, Italian-American filmmaker Pierette Simpson was aboard the doomed ship, and lived to tell her story.

Posted by Italian Sons and Daughters of America on Sunday, August 11, 2019

Click here to learn more about the docufilm, Andrea Doria: Are the Passengers Saved?

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