Lifeboat launch to mark Andrea Doria disaster

The following is the text of a news release from the State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College:

(THROGGS NECK, N.Y.) — A lifeboat used in one of the worst maritime disasters in U.S. waters in history will be relaunched next month from SUNY Maritime College.

The event will mark the 60th anniversary of the cruise liner Andrea Doria’s sinking off the coast of Nantucket, Mass., in 1956. The lifeboat was the first launched after a collision with the Swedish ship Stockholm and has been completely restored.

“The 28-foot boat looks great after Mark Koch, a dive manager from Louisiana, restored it,” said David Allen, SUNY Maritime professor and historian. “It’s back in nearly perfect condition, except for a few dents and mysterious bullet holes, and we’re inviting people to take it for a short spin into the Long Island Sound." 

Sixty years ago, the sinking of the Andrea Doria cruise liner killed 46 of the nearly 1,700 people on board, making it one of the worst maritime disasters in U.S. waters in history. The two ships collided in heavy fog and the Italian ship immediately began listing severely to one side. Though the ship — built 44 years after the Titanic — had enough lifeboats, the list rendered half of them unusable. A combination of luck and prompt rescue efforts from nearby ships was the reason more people did not die.

The ship’s wreck site is a popular but dangerous destination for scuba divers, who have to confront strong currents among other things. It is considered the Mount Everest of shipwrecks.

The event at SUNY Maritime begins at 10 a.m. July 30 with discussions about the disaster and its aftermath. The boat launch will be at 11:30 a.m., followed by lunch, more presentations and a tour of the Maritime Industry Museum in SUNY Maritime’s historic Fort Schuyler. 

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is recommended. To sign up, call (914) 737-7878 or email Lunch, in the college’s dining hall, is $8 a person.

It will begin at the Maritime Academic Center on the college campus, 6 Pennyfield Ave.

Combining classroom and lab learning with summer sea terms aboard the college training ship and industry internships, SUNY Maritime College prepares its 1,800 students to be leaders in the shipping, transportation and power generation industries, as well as in government, military and business. The 55-acre campus is on a peninsula between the Long Island Sound and East River, 30 minutes from midtown Manhattan. 

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By Professional Mariner Staff