Today’s Illustration: On A Collision Course

Today’s Illustration:  The Format & Purpose

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  • The basic facts of the event or person are laid out.
  • Quotations about the event or person are included
  • “Key Illustrative Thoughts” are designed to get your mind thinking about possible ways to use the illustration.
  • The Key Thoughts catch some of the keywords and phrases found in the illustrations content
  • Other information which might be of interest is provided at the end.
  • Additional links for your own further exploration of the topic, person, or event



 Linda_Morgan_1956 Linda Cianfarra  Linda Cianfarra, Survivor!

On This Day: July 25, 1956 — The Collision of the Andrea Doria & The Stockholm

The Andria Doria left Italy on July 17, 1956.  She was bound for New York City.  The ship was on a collision course with the Stockholm, while officers on both ships believed that were passing each other with sufficient clearance.

The collision drew worldwide attention.  Harry Trask, of the Boston-Herald Traveller, chartered a Beechcraft airplane to take pictures of the ship.  He won a Pulitzer Prize in Photojournalism for his 16 sequenced ariel photographs of the Andrea Doria laying on its side hours before it finally sank.  Those were the last pictures taken of the ship above the ocean’s waters.  Today, the ship lies 180 to 250 feet down, on the floor of the Atlantic ocean.


9/04/2015 — “Who would have thought that the sinking of the Italian super luxury liner Andrea Doria outside New York Harbor 59 years ago would still be a Page 1 newspaper story?

But it is, or was, when the Boston Sunday Globe ran a long story Aug. 9 about Tom Pritchard, 64, a seasoned scuba diver, who went missing July 21 searching for the wreck, making him at least the 15th diver to die at the site.

The sunken ship, considered the Mount Everest of scuba diving, rests in some 250 feet of water off the coast of Nantucket.”


The History:

The Andrea Doria: 

Constructed by Italy after WW II.  Its construction began February 9, 1950, and was completed on June 16, 1951.

It was 697 feet long, 90 feet wide, a little over 29,000 tons.

The ship was able to accommodate 1,134 passengers and 572 crew members.

It was equipped with a double hull and 11 watertight compartments.

This was the ships 51st roundtrip crossing of the Atlantic Ocean — for a total of 102 crossings from 1953 to 1956.

It took approximately 9 days to cross the Atlantic.

The ship had 16 lifeboats, 8 on each side, enough to handle all the passengers and crew – The lifeboats could handle either 58, 70, or 146 passengers.

Known Flaws:

Instability: The ship’s instability was exemplified early when previously hit by a large wave (on its Maiden voyage) in the midst of a major storm, causing the ship to list 28 degrees, which was accentuated by the empty fuel tanks which typified its condition at the end of a voyage.

Availability Of Lifeboats: If the ship listed 15 degrees, the lifeboats on that side became inoperable.

Limits Of The Compartments:  If the ship listed 20 degrees, the water-tight compartments overflow, and flooded adjacent compartments.  It could handle two compartments being flooded without a concern of sinking.

The Andrea Doria was approaching the coast of Nantucket, Massacheuttes, on its way to New York.

The Captain of the Andrea Doria was hoping for an early arrival in New York and therefore made only a small reduction in the ship’s speed.

The Stockholm: 

The Stockholm pulled out of port in New York on Wednesday, July 25th, 1956.  It was the ships 103rd crossing.

It was 125 feet long, 69 feet wide, 12,165 tons.  It had 534 passengers and a crew of 208.

The Stockholm was equipped with an icebreaker bow.

Both the Andrea Doria and the Stockholm were moving in heavy fog off of the coast of Nantucket.

The Captain of the Stockholm was heading north of the typical shipping lane for eastbound ships, hoping to save time.


The Collision Of The Andrea & The Stockholm:

The two officers of both ships indicated that they had seen each other on radar.

At an approximate speed of at least 24 knots (some report indicate in the 30’s), the two ships were on a clear collision course with each other.

At 11:10 an Officer of the Andrea Doria realized that the Stockholm was headed right for them — “She’s coming right at us!”

The Stockholm hit “Andrea Doria’s starboard side like a battering ram, snapping bulkheads and penetrating some 30 feet into its hull.”

The Stockholm cut through seven of the eleven decks of the Andrea Doria.

When the Andrea Doria was struck, because it was top-heavy it began to list immediately starboard, and therefore half of its lifeboats were unusable.

Andria Doria radioed — “Here danger immediate —  Need lifeboats—as many as possible— can’t use our lifeboats.”

The Stockholm's Bow  The Stockholm Survived

The collision with the Stockholm had also torn open the Andrea Doria’s oil tanks, which were nearly empty, and filled them with ocean water, which accentuated the ship’s listing.

The Andrea Doria stayed afloat for eleven hours.  One of the surviving families recalls that evening . . . . .

“The lights went out, and bottles were thrown around. We were thrown over the coffee table, and we all had glass cuts. The orangey emergency lights came on. I didn’t have any idea what had happened. It was so violent, the crash. We were desperate to get reunited with our families. We had to go down two or three flights to that deck. It was an open stairway, like a corkscrew. You could hear the screaming, and smell that sharp acrid smell of electric shorts. People started to stagger out toward the stairwell from below, and pretty soon, people came up, including my folks and my siblings. Then we all went like rats to the high side of the ship. . . . .

“We were just lying there after a while, because you couldn’t stand. The ship was heeling too much. So we lay down flat on the deck, with our feet against the tilted bulkhead,” Dun said. “There was nothing from the crew about what to do or where to go. But this was only 10 years after World War II, and many of the men who were there were veterans, including our dad. They went off in a group to try to reconnoiter what was going on. I remember they came back and said things looked pretty grim. We couldn’t do anything but sing and pray, so that’s what we did. . . . .

Like the Giffords, most of the passengers sought the high side of the ship, as far away from the water as they could get. Many stayed there, hoping for instructions about what to do next, but word never came. The loudspeakers located throughout the vessel were for the most part silent. Those passengers on the port side had no way of knowing that the lifeboats on the starboard side of the boat had already been lowered, filled in large part with crew members. It wasn’t until the first rescue ships arrived at the scene, several hours later, that many of the passengers made their way to the starboard side of the Andrea Doria.” —

It sank the next morning.

The Andrea Doria rest in 180 feet deep water (Recreational diving usually stops at a maximum of 130 feet and can only stay 10 minutes because of the build-up of nitrogen in his body.)

The capsized boat languishing int he water for 11 hours and the final sinking of the Andrea Doria was photographed the media of that day.  An aerial photograph of the ship capsized won the Pulitzer Prize.



The Andrea Doria: 1,660 passengers survived.  46 died

The Stockholm: Five crewmen were immediately killed.



The Stockholm was able to make it to port in New York under its own power after it rescued some of the members of the Andrea Doria.

Andrea Doria rests in approximately 240 feet of water in the North Atlantic.

It is called the “Mt. Everest” of diving.

Since 1956, at least 16 known people have died exploring it.

“To this day, it has never been fully determined why two luxury cruise ships, each equipped with the latest radar technology and manned by an experienced crew, were fated to collide in such a wide expanse of ocean. The scenario becomes less improbable, however, when the fog, the speed of the vessels, and the congestion on that part of the ocean are taken into account.” —


An Amazing Unplanned Rescue:

Linda Cianfarra, age fourteen, awoke lying on her mattress, stripped of the sheets and blankets.  This young fourteen-year-old girl could not understand why she was looking into the stars.  

A sailor, Bernabe Garcia, aboard the ship Stockholm heard the girl’s cries and found her on the deck.  

Her arm was broken, and she was unable to sit up.  

Garcia picked her up off her bed and carried her to the ship’s hospital.  

When asked for her name, she said, “Linda Morgan.”  

The purser of the Stockholm, Curt Dawe, could not find her name on the passenger list.

Linda then thought that it might be listed using her stepfather’s name, Cianfarra.  Again the purser could not find her name on the passenger list.   

They then asked Linda where she was traveling from, and she answered, “Madrid.”  

As Linda began to weep, she said, “Isn’t this the Andrea Doria.”  

Dawe replied, “No, this is not the Andrea Doria.  This is the Stockholm.”

Linda Morgan Cianfarra, the daughter of the famous newscaster, Edward P. Morgan, was picked up and carried on the wreckage of her bed by the bow of the Stockholm after the collision.  

Linda was called, The Miracle Girl!

“During the collision, she was somehow lifted out of her bed and onto the Stockholm’s crushed bow, landing safely behind a bulwark as the two ships scraped past each other before separating as the fatally-stricken Andrea Doria disappeared back into the fog.”

The book titled, “Saved,” which documented the events of the sinking of the Andrea Doria described what happened.

“The bow of the Stockholm had sliced into her cabin directly beneath her bunk next to the porthole, smashing her bed.  It had hurled Linda’s half-sister, Joan, into the sea where she perished.  It had fatally torn her stepfather, Camille Cianfarra.  It had thrown her mother, Jane Cianfarra, into the adjacent cabin where she lay almost hopelessly trapped.

Then, as the Stockholm’s bow retread from the Andrea Doria’s crushed innards, it lifted Linda and her mattress almost gently out of the doomed ship and deposited her safely on the Swedish liner.  Without ever comprehending that there was a collision or that her cabin had been demolished and her family decimated, Linda lay unconscious on the deck without any apparent serious injury until the sailor heard her frightened plea for help. ‘It’s a miracle,’ Garcia whispered solemnly.

God’s ways are unsearchable!   Who would have ever imagined such a bizarre account? How very unlikely the series of events that deliver Linda Morgan to the deck of the Stockholm!

The eight-year-old sister of Linda, Joan Cianfarra, was sleeping on the adjoining bunk bed in Linda’s cabin.  Joan was crushed and killed instantly.

“Her step-father, Camille Cianfarra, a longtime foreign correspondent for The New York Times, stationed in Spain, was also killed in the adjacent cabin he shared with the girls’ mother. . . .

Linda Morgan and her younger sister were both listed among missing passengers in the early reports.”


The examples of God’s incredible variety of God’s chosen means and methods of providential and miraculous provision cover the pages of the Bible:

A gentile woman, facing hunger and gleaning a field, is the mother of Obed, who was the father of Jesse, the father of David, and in the line of Christ

A starving, dying widow would sustain Elijah.

A Samaritan would help a Jewish man who was mugged on the highway.

A dying slave points the way to King David as he seeks to rescue his family

A Jewish captive who delivers her people from the gallows built by Haman

A baby floating down the Nile to deliver the Jews from 400 years of bondage

A young man sold into slavery by his brothers and falsely imprisoned, to deliver the nation of Israel from famine.

Four lepers prepared to die, end up delivering the city by deciding to walk into the enemies camp.

A harlot named Rahab who would end up in the line of Christ

A babe in a manager, born in a land under Roman rule, to a poor family, is the Messiah!

God will, and He does, use the unusual and the most unlikely.  We may envision the most likely solution to our trials.   Therefore, we can foolishly miss His provision. Failing to appreciate this principle will blind one’s eyes to God’s new, unusual, and ever-changing means of provision.  Remember, God’s ways are past finding out and are unsearchable!  


Key Illustrative Thoughts:

Nothing to do but sing and pray!
They were on a collision course!
One is taken, the other is left.
Above and beyond what we can think or ask.
Who knew?
The brevity of life.
There are no conditions when it is safer.
Even well-experienced people have been known to crash.
One ship survives, the other lies on the bottom of the Atlantic.
“Fog” — It clouds our vision!
In a rush — trying to save time.
The uncertainty of life and death.
It started out as a normal day, but it didn’t end that way for 100’s
Saved alive!
God’s ways are unsearchable!
Who would have written this story of deliverance?
This is the Stockholm!
Selfish crew members, who are there to save others!
Fog, speed, and congestion — factors which all led to tragedy.
Desperate to be reunited with our family
Stepping on shore
Hit by an icebreaker
No enough lifeboats
Headed for a collision / a disaster
No one knows it, but it is a collision course.


Additional Information & Links

The Stockholm was called the ship of death after the collision with the Andrea Doria.  Nevertheless, it was reconditioned several times since 1956 and still operates today.  In 2005 the ex-Stockholm was renamed Athena.

“Captain Dan Crowell has begun to “mow the lawn,” steering the sixty-foot exploration vessel the Seeker back and forth, taking her through a series of slow passes, sniffing for the Doria.

The Seeker‘s crew of five divvies up hour-and-a-half watches for the ten-hour trip from Montauk, Long Island, but Crowell will have been up all night in a state of tense vigilance. A veteran of fifty Doria trips, Crowell considers the hundred-mile cruise–both coming and going–to be the most dangerous part of the charter, beset by imminent peril of fog and storm and heavy shipping traffic. It’s not for nothing that mariners call this patch of ocean where the Andrea Doria collided with another ocean liner the “Times Square of the Atlantic.”

“The Mount Everest of scuba diving,” people call the wreck, in another useful catchphrase. Its [bleep] rep is unique in the sport. Tell a fellow diver you’ve done the Great Barrier Reef or the Red Sea, they think you’ve got money. Tell ’em you’ve done the Doria, they know you’ve got [bleep]. Remote enough to expose you to maritime horrors–the Seeker took a twenty- five-foot wave over its bow on a return trip last summer–the Doria‘s proximity to the New York and New Jersey coasts has been a constant provocation for two generations. The epitome, in its day, of transatlantic style and a luxurious symbol of Italy’s post–World War II recovery, the Andrea Doria has remained mostly intact and is still full of treasure: jewelry, art, an experimental automobile, bottles of wine–plus mementos of a bygone age, like brass shuffleboard numbers and silver and china place settings, not so much priceless in themselves but much coveted for the challenge of retrieving them. . . .

You might be paying your money and buying your ticket just like at Disney World, but everybody also knows this is a real expedition,” says Crowell. “You’ve got roaring currents, low visibility, often horrible weather, and you’re ten hours from help. We’re pushing the limits out here.” —



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