For nearly 60 years, the SS Andrea Doria has sat 240 feet underwater off the southern coast of Nantucket. Divers have long taken missions into the depths, some successful at salvaging items, some not so successful.
But no diver has been able to piece together a comprehensive picture of what is left of the ship. That is what OceanGate — an Everett, Wash.-based company — hopes to accomplish in two weeks, when it will lead a manned submarine to explore the Andrea Doria shipwreck site. The expedition was announced Tuesday.
“The Andrea Doria is one of the most iconic shipwrecks in US waters,” OceanGate’s chief executive and cofounder, Stockton Rush, said.
The liner, which had set sail from Italy, sank July 26, 1956, after it collided with the MS Stockholm. Of the 1,700 people on board, 46 died.
Since then, the high-profile wreck has become an often deadly location for deep divers. It’s known as the “Mount Everest of Diving,” a location only the most experienced divers would even think about approaching. Some remains of the 697-foot boat have collapsed, netting has created a hazardous web around the ship, and the sheer depth of the wreck leads to visibility and water pressure dangers.
Sixteen divers have died attempting to get closer to the wreckage. The most recent death occurred last summer. Tom Pritchard, a 64-year-old retired professor with years of diving experience, never returned following a mission.
Starting June 2, OceanGate will go on two three-hour missions each day for a week in the submersible vessel Cyclops I to explore the wreck. OceanGate is interested in surveying the wreck, Rush said. The Cyclops is equipped with sonar imaging technology that will “allow us to create a very accurate digital map of the wreck,” he said.