July 25, 1956. The Andrea Doria, an ocean-class liner, was headed to New York in dense fog. Designed to carry 1,200 passengers and 500 crew and with a gross tonnage of 29,100, she was touted as the safest ship on the sea.
The MS Stockholm, Sweden’s largest passenger ship, with a tonnage of 12,165 and measuring 525 feet, was heading back to her homeport in Gothenburg.
Both ships were relying on radar to navigate, but made errors in trying to avoid a collision course. Forty-five miles south of Nantucket, Mass., the Stockholm’s bow, shaped and reinforced to break ice, struck the starboard side of the Andrea Doria.
The damaged Andrea Doria began to take on water and developed a severe 20-degree list. As a result, the lifeboats on the port side were unusable. Many ships answered the Andrea Doria’s mayday call. One of these, the liner Ile de France, collected 753 passengers from the Andrea Doria. Other ships, including the Stockholm, took on the rest.
Forty-nine people died in the collision and 1,660 passengers and crew were rescued in what is remembered as one of the great rescue operations at sea.