NJ man who survived Andrea Doria sinking in 1956 donates life jacket to museum

A New Jersey man who survived the sinking of the Andrea Doria in 1956 donated his life jacket to a museum there. 

Vernon resident Alfonso Caliendo, 83, gave the orange jacket that saved his life 67 years ago to the New Jersey Maritime Museum on Long Beach Island.

The doomed ship left Genoa, Italy en route to New York City when it collided with the passenger liner Stockholm on the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts, which claimed the lives of 46 aboard and 5 others on the Stockholm.

After the collision, Caliendo, then 16, put on his life jacket and jumped into the water after seeing lights from a rescue boat.

“Everything was so black, I remember. Then, all of a sudden, boom, the life jacket pulled me up really fast, so I went up, and I started to swim,” he told NJ Advance Media.

On Thursday, he put on the life jacket for the first time since the shipwreck.

It is inscribed with the Italian words “Italia Societa di Navigazione,” the name of the passenger ship line that owned the Andrea Doria.

The professional painter also donated letters, including one from a law firm on his claim for damages, offering $200 for lost clothing and other belongings.

Another was from the Swedish American Line, the operator of the Stockholm.

“The Swedish American Line wishes to express to you its regret regarding any hardship, inconvenience or loss which you may have suffered following the tragic collision between the Andrea Doria and the Stockholm,” it read.

A native of Naples, Italy, Caliendo was traveling to rejoin his parents, three sisters and four brothers, who immigrated to New York City three months prior.

He stayed behind because he had pink eye and couldn’t board the ship his family took to America.

After the tragedy, he joined them in Brooklyn, where he lived until 1962.

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