On Wednesday, July 22nd, the US Coast Guard suspended their search for diver Tom Pritchard. He was last seen diving near the wreck of the SS Andrea Doria, a shipwreck about 60 nautical miles off Nantucket. Nearly twenty divers have been lost on the famed shipwreck.
Once the pride of the post-World War 2 Italy, shipwrecked ocean liner SS Andrea Doria is now considered by scuba divers as the Mount Everest of the deep, the ultimate test of their underwater skill and mettle.
Excerpts from Wikipedia on the history of the SS Andrea Doria:
For a country attempting to rebuild its economy and reputation after World War II, Andrea Doria was an icon of Italian national pride. Of all Italy’s ships at the time, Andrea Doria was the largest, fastest, and supposedly safest. On July 25, 1956, while Andrea Doria was approaching the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts, bound for New York City, the eastbound MS Stockholm of the Swedish American Line collided… struck in the side, the top-heavy Andrea Doria immediately started to list severely to starboard, which left half of its lifeboats unusable. The good behavior of the crew, improvements in communications, and the rapid response of other ships averted a disaster similar in scale to that of Titanic in 1912. This accident remains the worst maritime disaster to occur in United States waters since the sinking of the SS Eastland in 1915.
Lying in over 200 feet of water, modern divers must contend with blackout conditions, cold temperature, currents, fishing nets, limited dive times and highly technical mixed gasses and staged decompression stops. In addition, the wreck itself (which lays on its side) has begun to collapse, with upper decks.
Some fifty-one persons died in the initial collision. On the Andrea Doria, forty-three passengers died with the initial impact; three dying sometime later. On the Stockholm, five crewmen died. Unfortunately, the death toll has continued with no signs of stopping. The deaths to date include:
William Edgerton (1956, age 23, equipment malfunction)
John Barnett (1980)
Francis Kennedy (1984, age 37, air shortage)
John Ormsby (1985, age 27, became tangled)
Joe Drozd (1988, age 42, became disoriented and drowned)
Matthew G. Lawrence (1992, age 32, mixed gas error)
Michael William Scofield (1992, age 36)
Robert Santulli (1993, age 33, became disoriented and drowned)
Craig Sicola (1998, age 32, )
Richard Roost (1998)
Vincent Napoliello (1998)
Charles J. McGurr (1999, heart attack)
Christopher Murlehy (1999, heart attack, drowning)
William Schmoldt (2002, decompression sickness)
David Bright (2006, decompression sickness)
Terry DeWolf (2008, unknown)
Michael LaPrade (2011)
Tom Pritchard (2015, age 64, missing and presumed dead)