Posted by: mcjangles | August 1, 2007

Andrea Doria

Andrea Doria on the Independence II July 29-30 2007

This past weekend I made the trek out to Montauk, NY with my dive buddy Dan Martinez to meet up with the Independence and dive the Andrea Doria for the first time. The Doria sits on her starboard side in ~250 fsw 100+ miles offshore. We departed in the early hours Sunday and arrived on the wreck around 0800. I woke up about 3 miles from the wreck and headed for the nearest rail. The seas were flat and it was a beautiful morning but in hindsight the fried jumbo softshell crab sandwich wasn’t the best choice for a late dinner. I didn’t let this deter my excitement and quickly pounded some Gatorade and water and got dressed to dive. When we splashed there was a slight current on the surface so we took it nice and easy getting down. We first spotted the strobe the tie-in team left on the anchor chain at ~130’ and hit the top (actually the port side) of the wreck at 195’. The visibility was quite nice (30’?) and it was an incredible sight seeing rows of intact portholes and large square windows with the glass intact stretching as far as my light would shine. All the reading about it can’t prepare you for how huge this wreck truly is. We clipped a strobe, did a quick systems check and dropped over the side of the wreck to explore.

Heading deeper it was evident how much the decks are collapsing. The promenade deck has collapsed leaving a “valley” between surrounding teak decking which lays in some areas like pick up sticks. Even with the deterioration of the wreck you can still get an idea of where you are and pick out identifying features. We dropped down (really up) another deck level and followed the “valley” down following the trail of brass window frames that are now lying loose in the debris. Danny picked up a chunk of tiles from the pool and we spent a little time reconnoitering some targets for a future dive and turned the dive after passing some life boat davits. Cruising back with the deck to our side like a huge wall it was possible to look up and see the top of the “Grand Dame” silhouetted in the emerald green hue of the ambient light from above. Back near the tie-in a came across a porthole that I thought was nearly loose and after giving it a couple good shakes decided it would be worth a shot on the second dive. One last look to note its location and it was time to go up after a great 1st dive on the Andrea Doria.

For the second dive we weren’t playing around and I headed in armed with a bag of tools and Fat Max (thanks Mark) and Danny was following with the video camera in tow. I hit the wreck unclipped Fat Max and dropped over the side to my target. After messing around for a couple minutes I ascertained that this porthole wasn’t as ready to leave as I hoped. Also the way it was sitting I couldn’t get any good leverage on it (plus dropping my hammer into the wreck didn’t help). Not wanting to waste a good dive, I cut my losses and headed off to the glow of video lights to see what Danny was up to. On the way back I circled back to pick up Fat Max (I left him at the job site). Ascending up the deck I looked down and spotted my hammer in a crack and I thought I could reach it. I got my shoulder down and was reaching and realized it was just out of reach. I went to back out and nothing. I was stuck on something but couldn’t tell what. I signaled Danny to come over and check it out but he didn’t realize I was stuck so he just videotaped my misfortune. Finally I just pushed myself straight down and twisted and freed myself. My manifold must have just got lodged in a corner funny somehow. We headed up to an uneventful deco with no current.

After the second dive the mal de mer returned with a vengeance and I tried to get some rest up before the last dive in the morning. Alas it was not to be. If my impressive chum slick was any indication of my hydration level I figured it best to sit the last one out. However everyone else did the dive in perfect conditions and Danny was successful in returning for his brass window, as was Terry. Dan also said he spotted a wine bottle an intact glass out of reach inside a crack in the wreck near the tie in.

The conditions on this trip really were incredible. Both days the seas were flat and the current was minimal to none along with the good visibility on the wreck it was definitely a trip of a lifetime. Although more experienced Doria divers will say how much the wreck has changed and collapsed it is, but being a first timer and not knowing the difference it is still very impressive. The Andrea Doria might not be the “Mt Everest of shipwreck diving” anymore but I would say it is still a milestone dive for those willing to put in the effort to dive her.

Pictures to come…

For more info and pictures check out AUE’s impressive virtual Doria museum

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