Guido Badano, a Hero of the Andrea Doria Crash, Dies at 92

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Guido Badano, a 29-year-old officer aboard the glamorous Italian ocean liner Andrea Doria, was asleep in his bunk, relieved of his duties for a while, when two short blasts from the ship’s whistle, signaling an impending turn to the left, jolted him awake. It was shortly after 11 o’clock on the night of July 25, 1956.

Seconds later he heard the sound of fracturing metal. Throwing on his clothes, he grabbed a flashlight and his life jacket and raced to the bridge.

The Andrea Doria, en route from Genoa to New York with 1,134 passengers and 572 crew members, had collided with the smaller European-bound Swedish liner Stockholm in dense fog some 45 miles south of Nantucket Island in Massachusetts. The Stockholm’s bow ripped an enormous hole in the Doria’s starboard side, causing her to list severely.

Eleven hours later, with all the Andrea Doria’s surviving passengers having been rescued by ships responding to an S.O.S., Mr. Badano was sitting in a lifeboat with Capt. Piero Calamai and his other chief officers, watching it disappear into the Atlantic. A Navy destroyer escort picked them up and took them to a pier in Brooklyn.

So ended what was arguably the most dramatic peacetime episode at sea since the Titanic sank in 1912.

Mr. Badano, who later became the captain of the Cristoforo Colombo, the Andrea Doria’s sister ship, died on Tuesday in Alassio, a seaside resort town in the north of Italy. He was 92.

His death was announced by his family.

Guido Badano was born on June 27, 1927, in the town of Sassello, near Alassio. When he became a second officer junior on the Andrea Doria, it was regarded as a symbol of Italy’s resurgence from the ravages of World War II. And ocean voyages in first class still retained an aura of opulence.

Upon reaching the Andrea Doria’s bridge moments after the collision, Mr. Badano checked the chart room to determine its exact location while Captain Calamai dictated a distress message for the ship’s radio operator to transmit: “Need Immediate Assistance.”

Mr. Badano made an announcement over the loudspeaker, first in Italian and then in English, instructing passengers to go to the muster stations designated for them during an earlier life jacket drill.

As the Andrea Doria’s list grew more severe, it became clear that it could not survive, and passengers boarded lifeboats. Mr. Badano relayed a message from the captain to the Italian Line offices in New York and Genoa telling of the disaster.

Ships responding to the S.O.S. picked up passengers, along with crew members not involved in seamanship duties. Many of them boarded the ocean liner Île de France, which had been bound for Europe but turned around to come to the Andrea Doria’s aid. But 43 passengers died — in the wreckage of their cabins, or perhaps when they were swept into the sea at the moment of impact — and three others died shortly after the collision.

The Stockholm incurred a gash in its bow, where crewmen were housed, and five Stockholm seamen died in the crash. But it picked up some of the Andrea Doria survivors and crew and limped back to New York.

Both the Andrea Doria and the Stockholm had radar, but there was little visibility at the time of the collision and they were in heavily traveled shipping lines. The Italian Line and Swedish American Line sued each other for damages. Those actions and lawsuits brought by passengers against the two lines were consolidated into a single proceeding before a federal judge in Manhattan. But settlements were reached without a judicial verdict on responsibility for the collision.

Mr. Badano’s survivors include his daughter, Marica.

Captain Calamai died at his home in Genoa in April 1972 at 75.

“He was an old-school gentleman, ambitious but modest, almost shy,” Mr. Badano later remembered. “The day of the Andrea Doria disaster began his long agony. He lived with his family in Genoa, but he was like a ghost. He died asking if the passengers had been saved.”


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