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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 November 2004
She was once the pride of an entire nation. She was a post WW2 Transatlantic Liner with the most beautiful lines that only Italy can produce. Launched in 1951 and completed in 1952, the Andrea Doria went into service in early 1953. She displaced 29,083 tons and measured 656*5 feet x 90*2 feet with a draught of 45*4 feet. There were 10 decks, 11 watertight compartments and accommodation for 1,241 passengers and 575 crew. She was powered by 2 turbine engines capable of generating 50,000 hp and fitted with 2 propellers both of which weighed 16 tons. She was completely fireproof and every last detail was one of supreme luxury. As the flagship of the entire Italian fleet, with her went the hopes and aspirations of her country as it emerged from the turmoil and confusion of those dark years of WW2.

On the evening of 25 July 1956 the Doria (as she will always be affectionately known) was approaching New York just as the Swedish Liner Stockholm was heading in the opposite direction. After a series of errors by the officer of the watch on board the Stockholm, it was almost midnight when the Andrea Doria was rammed by that ship which sliced deep into her starboard side. It was a mortal blow and, in a manner reminiscent of the loss of the Titanic, the point of impact could not have been in a worse place. As the Stockholm backed away a large deep gash was revealed through which the Atlantic Sea was already pouring. The Doria took on an immediate 30 degree list to starboard - a list which would slowly increase until she was finally lost. That inexorable process took over 11 hours and the Andrea Doria sank at 10:09 am 26 July 1956.

Today, the Andrea Doria will feature heavily on any scuba diver's list of top ten shipwrecks of the world. Fortunately for the ship, she rests at a depth of 235 feet (99M). I say "Fortunately" because that depth restricts the number of divers who have the necessary deep diving skills to visit such a wreck. Consequently, much of her collectable brass and other fittings will remain uncollected - simply because there isn't the time at that depth for divers to get to work. Unfortunately for many scuba divers who do insists on visiting this immense and very deep shipwreck, however, they appear intent on looting her contents and in this way this shipwreck continues to claim far too many lives. Some of those who have been lost to this wreck (not all of whom are mentioned in this book) were amongst the most qualified and experienced of scuba divers.

Deep Descent is a story of diving and looting this wreck and of some of those who lost their lives. It is not a story for the faint-hearted diver. It is, however, a cautionary tale for all scuba divers - from all over the world, whether they have any intention of diving this wreck or not. Whilst it is an excellent read, one cannot easily condone the underlying gung-ho attitudes of those involved.

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on 29 May 2002
A book I genuinely read in a day. The Andrea Doria was the flagship passenger liner of the Italian fleet - I hate to say the Titanic of the Italian passenger liner business but that is the nearest cliche.
The book is on the face of it the history of deep sea diving of the wreck, which to quote another cliche is the 'Everest' of diving challenges - dangerously deep to you and me hence the title. The theme of the book is a history of the people who have dived the wreck and brought up various artefacts - mainly china, especially the people who have met a gruesome end in the process. Yes it is a history of death in the pursuit of the ultimate diving challenge and anyone who has entered the fantasy land of diving for hidden treasure who read this book will happily tear up their amature padi certficates.
The suspense of the history of the divers, exceptionally professional ones, who have met their end is truely gripping as the book drives home how easy one slight mistake has taken the life of such professionals. Usually for one reason - greed, but greed for that inanimate object that may elude them for another year or so. To compound the morbid nature of the book there is reproduced the waiver potential divers must sign with respect to their claim on any expedition leader is reproduced in full as an appendix!
An interesting aside to the book is that it details the dispute between the two principal boats who ferry hopeful divers (oassionally to the fate) to the site. Quite simply certain divers are loyal to one boat, they fall out and become loyal to another.
What the book lacks is depth in the history of the actual boat itself, but in its defence that is not what the book about. Mercifully to someone such as myself whose nearest deep diving experinence was Ivan Draper holding my head below the water for what seemed like 10 minutes at Spence Street baths in Leicester in 1979 when I was 7, the book is not overloaded with diving jargon or technicality.
One fascinating theme of the ships history, which is only very briefy touched upon is the myth (or is true) that one of the safes on the ship was carrying a vast amount of gold bullion from the Central Bank of Italy on its fateful voyage. UK residents with a good memory who watched a documentary on the ship in the 1980s will remember an expedition to recover the safes. For technical reasons only one could be recovered and after a fanfare on Breakfast television was opened only to find a stack of soggy banknotes. The other safe is down there but does it contain bullion - we may never know and if this book teaches you anything any expedition that hopes to find it will expect to lose one or more diver in the process.
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on 13 February 2007
I enjoyed reading this book, and would recommend it to anyone who's diving interest is more than just shallow reefs and drift dives.

It is a snapshot of the early days of deep wreck diving and the dangers that go along with that pursuit. Written with the diver in mind, I can't see it being of much interest to a non-diver, but most certainly is to the diver who wants to 'push out the envelope'.

I found it interesting that my Tech instructor suggested this book to me when I enrolled for an Advanced Wreck Course with him. I think he wanted me to get an idea of what can happen inside a wreck and not have some sort of fairytale fantasy about penetrating wrecks.

Compelling and enlightening.
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on 18 May 2008
I was a basic scuba diver in my youth to middle age, I dived on many wrecks in Scottish waters, though nothing as advanced or dangerous as the dives described in this book. Having once been fixated with recovering artefacts from the sea that you would not give a second glance to if you passed them on the street, I can understand the china "fever" that infected some of the divers. If you want to find out who was the philosopher, read the book :) That bit made me laugh. McMurray's account is gripping and very readable, all the more so since he actually dived the wreck. Apart from the technical difficulties and dangers of diving such a deep wreck, super advanced wreck diving, McMurray gives a fair and balanced account of the personalities involved; obsessive personalities who had obvious difficulties in getting on with each other. The fatalities are presented in an analytical and non-morbid way, they were part of the price that had to be paid in this extreme form of diving. Emphasis was on learning from the tragedy. My main concern was the that the current availability of Trimix could open up wrecks such as the Andrea Doria to divers who were simply not trained or equipped to deal with such a challenge. I did not like the case put forward for solo diving on deep wrecks, though I understood the logic behind the arguments. My life was saved on a least three occasions by my dive buddy, in my diving career over 17 years, in circumstances that would have killed me if I was solo. If you are a diver it is a "must read", indeed a "must buy". Non divers might be baffled by the technical side of the book but the author does explain the scientific background to deep diving in an understandable way. A very good read.
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on 12 August 2017
good read
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on 29 November 2013
This book was so down to earth no punches pulled. Sad but exciting .my wife said it must be good for me to read it on holiday from ex diver
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on 21 July 2004
Excellent read even though I noted some poor reviews before I purchased it. Its sobering rather than morbid and is more like an account of climbing Mount Everest in that it gives accounts of people at the limits of human achievement. Also recommend "The last dive" by Bernie Chowdhury.
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on 20 October 2017
As a recreational diver with no interest in wreck or deep diver I still found this an incredibly interesting read.
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on 19 September 2007
This is a fantastic book that was hard to put down.

I would have no hesitation in recommending this book to divers and non divers

The tail keeps you in suspence all the way through, well writen

Just makes you want to jump in the water and start diving.
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on 14 June 2002
Stunning account of the perils involved in deep Scuba Diving. Some sobering photos. However, this is not a reference book, rather an account of a number of people diving on one wreck. Nevertheless, a captivating read.
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