MS Stockholm 1948
MS STOCKHOLM – Collided with the Italian Line’s Andrea Doria and, as the MV ATHENA, was attacked by pirates. The Italian press called the Stockholm the “ship of death” (La nave della morte).
MS Stockholm returning to New York after her collision with the Andrea Doria. Her bow severely damaged.
MV Athena (formerly the MS Stockholm) is a cruise ship owned and operated by Classic International Cruises. She was built in 1948 as the MS Stockholm by Götaverken in Gothenburg for the Swedish America Line. Since her career with SAL she has sailed under the names MS Völkerfreundschaft, MS Volker, MS Fridtjof Nansen, MS Italia I, MS Italia Prima, MS Valtur Prima and MS Caribe, before beginning service under her current name. As the Stockholm she was best known for colliding with the SS Andrea Doria in 1956, resulting in the sinking of the latter ship.
At 525 feet (160.02 m) with a gross tonnage of 12,165, Stockholm was the smallest passenger ship operating on the North Atlantic route at the time. However, she was the largest ship built in Sweden at the time. Originally designed to carry 395 people, a 1953 refit expanded Stockholm’s capacity to 548 people.
On the night of July 25, 1956, at 11:10 PM, in heavy fog in the North Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Nantucket, the Stockholm and the Andrea Doria of the Italian Line collided in what was to become one of history’s most famous maritime disasters.
Although most passengers and crew survived the collision, the larger Andrea Doria luxury liner capsized and sank the following morning. Owing to the collision, 50% of the Andrea Doria’s lifeboats were unusable. However, a number of ships responded and provided assistance, which averted a massive loss of life like that suffered by the Titanic over 40 years earlier.
Five crewmembers on the Stockholm were killed instantly and several more were trapped in the wrecked bow. Despite its having sunk about three feet (0.9 m), the crippled Stockholm helped in the rescue and ended up carrying 327 passengers and 245 crewmembers from the Andrea Doria, in addition to her own passengers and crew. After Andrea Doria sank, Stockholm sailed to New York City under her own power and arrived on July 27. The crushed bow portion was repaired at a cost of US$1 million three months later.
On January 3, 1960, the Stockholm was sold to the East German government, who renamed the ship Völkerfreundschaft and operated her as an ocean liner until 1985. In 1985 she was transferred to a Panamanian company “Neptunas Rex Enterprises”. Her name was reduced to Volker, and by the end of the year she was laid up in Southampton, England. She was later used as a barracks ship in Oslo for asylum seekers in Norway under the name Fridtjof Nansen.
The Stockholm was sold to Italian interests in 1989 and towed to Genoa, the Andrea Doria’s home port. When she first arrived, the press called the Stockholm the “ship of death” (La nave della morte). She was rebuilt from the waterline up and given a modern cruise ship design. Named the Italia I, then Italia Prima, she later sailed as Valtur Prima primarily to Cuba, and was laid up there in 2001. Acquired by Festival Cruise Line in 2002 and renamed Caribe she continued to sail to Cuba. Since 2005, the Stockholm sails as the Athena and is registered in Portugal. She is now flagged out of Cyprus operating for Classic International Cruises.
The MS Athena.
On 3 December 2008 MS Athena was attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden. There were reported to be 29 pirate boats surrounding the ship at one stage until a US Navy P3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft circled above which led to some of the pirates to flee. The crew prevented the pirates from boarding by firing high pressure water cannons at them. No one was injured and the ship escaped without damage and continued on her voyage to Australia.
Here is an interesting piece that appeared in the New York Times on the Stockholm/Athena…