The mysterious shipwreck...

The Andrea Doria

By Peter Holley - The Washington Post

For decades, the Andrea Doria has lured daring treasure hunters and obsessive thrill seekers to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in search of the luxurious ocean liner, which sank off the Massachusetts coast on a foggy night in July 1956.

Forty-six people died after the Andrea Doria collided with another ocean liner, shocking observers who considered the vessel unsinkable and tarnishing the romantic allure of the post-war passenger liners that plied the Atlantic.

Despite having less name recognition than the Titanic or the Vasa, the Italian wreck is now considered by many to be the Mount Everest of underwater exploration, according to CBS News.

The ship rests about 60 nautical miles from Nantucket on the border of the continental shelf, where the seabed disappears into the abyss.

The remoteness of the wreck, some divers maintain, only deepens the seductive mystery surrounding it.

"The Andrea Doria stands out as the premier shipwreck in American waters," Stockton Rush, co-founder and chief executive of a Washington state-based ocean exploration company known as OceanGate, told CBS.

The company is organizing the first manned expedition to the wreck in two decades, according to the AP. Using a five-man submersible known as Cyclops I, organizers hope to retrieve high-definition video and 3-D sonar images of the shipwreck, the AP reported.

The ship's popularity can be explained by the money and artifacts that are still on board, as well as the unique time period encapsulated within the ship's wreckage, which sits about 240 feet below the surface, according to CBS.

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shipwreck Andrea Doria liner Italian Massachusetts coast