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CDNN :: Andrea Doria: Dying for a tea cup

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by TANIA deLUZURIAGA

Andrea Doria
Some 15 divers have died over the years exploring the wreck of the Andrea Doria, which sank 53 miles southeast of Nantucket on July 26, 1956.

NANTUCKET, Massachusetts (4 Aug 2008) — It was a graceful ship renowned for its safety. But lying on its side 240 feet below the ocean's surface, the wreck of the Andrea Doria has a much deadlier reputation.

After 52 years on the sea floor about 40 miles south of Nantucket, the upper decks of the 697-foot vessel have collapsed onto the ocean floor, creating a labyrinth of debris. At its resting spot near the edge of the continental shelf, the waters are frigid and the currents fierce. Visibility can stretch as far as 75 feet or as little as 10 and can change in an instant. Divers, drawn to the wreck by the aura of one of the world's last luxury liners and the treasures it might hold, call it the Mount Everest of their sport.

"It has this mystique, this machismo about it," said Dan Crowell, a former charter captain who led diving trips to the Andrea Doria from Montauk, N.Y., in the 1990s.

Each year, hundreds make the treacherous dive to the otherwise barren sea floor to spend about a half-hour with the ship's dark remains. But the extreme conditions that make it alluring to thrill-seeking divers also make it lethal. Over the years the wreck has claimed the lives of 15 people, most recently Terry DeWolf, 38, a Houston man who died Wednesday while diving with a group of nine others...

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