Many questions about the collision of the Andrea Doria and Stockholm have remained unanswered for 50 years. Back in the late 1950's, a prominent marine engineer named John C. Carrouthers, who was contracted by the US Navy to investigate marine accidents, concluded that misreading of the radar by the young third officer on the bridge of the Stockholm was the fatal error. As the world's nautical experts had an opportunity to look at all the evidence, they have felt that the misreading of the radar was highly probable as the fatal mistake. Mr. Carrouthers produced many research papers in prestigious professional journals that chronicled the mistakes that both ships made during their approach. He concluded emphatically that the fatal mistake was made by the Stockholm. Unfortunately, the treasure-trove of information that he provided extensively in these professional journals never really made it to the public mainstream media. Here is a brief Q&A about some of the major issues dealing with the collision of these two fine ships:
"You have wrote that the reason for the collision was a misreading of the radar at the bridge of the Stockholm. That is understandable. Is this the main reason for the collision? I have read that the guilt could not be proved, neither for the captain of the Andrea Doria nor for the captain for the Stockholm. Is this correct? "
There were many small errors made by both ships that contributed to the collision. Each small error concatenated to become bigger errors. However, the biggest error that fateful evening of 7/25/56 was the mis-reading of the radar by the young third officer Carstens. As far as guilt for the collision, there was none that was attributed. There were pre-trial depositions that were taken, in contemplation of a full trial, but both ship owners, deciding that it would not be in their best interests to have a long, drawn-out trial, settled their differences with their common insurers. Therefore-it never went to trial to decide who was at fault. Informally, the mariners in the US went over all the testimony; and understanding the laws of the sea figured that either the Stockholm bridge officer was mistaken about the radar. These mariners have always believed that the radar misreading was the reason. Every decision that Carstens made on the bridge from 20 minutes before the collision to the collision time suggest that he thought that the Doria was much further away. It made the most reasonable and logical sense for this theory. Back in those days, the radar rings were not illuminated and the range of the scale of the OD was done manually by moving a switch. It is believed by these experts that Carstens thought that he was on a different range (15 mile) when in reality he was on another range(5 mile). In order to verify what range you are on in the night, a small flashlight is used. However, Carstens has vehemently denied this, but computer projections of the collision prove out, with very little doubt that the reason for this collision was the radar mis-reading by Carstens.
"I have read that both ships recognized the danger, while the distance was about 12 miles. There is another point that I cannot understand: Why did the Andrea Doria change her course to portside? Normally – so I have learned for my license for sport boats – the ships should be passing portside to portside. So the normal reaction of the Andrea Doria should be to change to starboard? Can you explain to me the consideration of Captain Calamai to change to the wrong side?"
The Doria has always thought that the passing would be starboard to starboard. You are correct in your rule of navigation referring to normal passing of port to port-especially in a head on passing. However, you must understand that the Doria felt that they were on the starboard side ALWAYS and by going starboard to get into a position for a port to port passing would of had the Doria pass right across the bow of the Stockholm. As you know the port to port rule is only applied if the ships were in a head to head basis and would not be applied if it would put the ship in PERIL - and apparently the Doria officers felt that trying to align the Doria in a port to port passing would put the ship across the bow of the Stockholm and into peril.
As the Doria was going forward, assuming a starboard to starboard passing, it would be natural for the ship to steer to the port to open the distance between the two ships. Changing course to starboard would of placed the Doria in the Stockholm's path!
The Stockholm has had many names since she left the ownership of the Brostrom concern's Swedish-American Lines. In 1960, she was sold to the East Germans as a union cruise vessel called Völkerfreundschaft. The Stockholm was sold to Italian interests in 1989. Ironically, it was given a refit in Genoa, the Andrea Doria's home port. When it first arrived, the press called the Stockholm the "ship of death." It was later gutted and given a new design resembling a modern cruise ship. Previously named the Italia I, Italia Prima, Valtur Prima and Caribe, the Stockholm currently sails as the Athena and is registered in Portugal.