Reports from the crew members
(Room and restaurant staff – Civitavecchia, Italy)
Crew member: Ignazio Blasi
Task: Room and restaurant staff
Event: 19 May 1970, collision in Algeciras
“I made catering service the musicians of the orchestra. The musicians were the orchestra of master De Michelis and because they played all the night long, they didn’t eat consequently breakfast the morning after, they slept until late. Therefore they gave me the way to wake up a bit later than the others and when they offered me to work to a buffet in the night after the departure from Naples to Algesiras I accepted, earning some hours of overturning. I was one of the many that slept at the extreme prow of the Raffaello and as habit all the evenings before going to sleep I always stopped myself on that wonderful prow, wrapped I leaned myself to the bulwark, or I seated on a cleat, therefore I smoked a cigarette looking at the sea and the sky with the thought turned to house before going to sleep. I breathed feelings of the rustling of the noise of the sea cracked by the imposing prow. This created air bubbles that gave the impression of silver to the liquid state in order then to get lost towards breast in the dark of the night. That night was a wonderful evening but dark, without moon. I was then to smoke my cigarette and the lights of the coast were already in sight. The ship began to slow down like usual, going more and more slowly that it arrived nearly to the port, therefore lessened indispensable in order to move.
Ended the cigarette I approached my cabin that I divided with Scale Salvatore and with Mirra Roberto but that evening Roberto had still not come to sleep. Perhaps he was still in first class, to work. Salvatore slept deeply and in order to don’t switch the light on, and disturb him, I left the slightly open, like every time. I took off the jacket slowly, in order to make little rustling as possible, then I began to take off the trousers and then I felt a small pushes ahead that forced me to support the hands on the jamb and then continues small infinites jumps like if there was something that prevented to the ship to go ahead. I did not realized what was happening. I was a bit tired and I woke up Scale Salvatore saying to him: “Mah have you not felt something? One answered between sleep and waking but where we are?” and I answered:”In Algeciras” and then laughing, Salvatore, “but there are rocks in Algesiras?”. To that question he woke up himself completely realized, on the contrary of me, the danger that was comed. I was calm, was come down from little stairs at the prow and I seen nothing, no light in front of us. It was my tranquillity, because I had not noticed anomalies. I scream myself jumping from the bed and seizing the own cloth: We cover ourselves endured we must immediately exit in covered lever the hook of the door because if fold we risk ourselves to remain sluices within. In least it supports there are finds to you on the prow. As soon as crossed the door we saw sparks. There were pieces of incandescent iron squirting everywhere. Trying to point out us from the bulwark, a shape of little clear ship was noticed, to that point has had the feeling that the Raffaello was eating it. Therefore we did not have way to approach to us because aware of the danger that were introduced between we and the other ship.
We found navy and firemen on the prow and still today I wonder as they have made to arrive before me and Salvatore. Salvatore did not distract a second was much careful one because it wanted to know of the danger that we were running. In a moment it wanted to show oneself and yields account that was an oil tanker it was said me: “Ignazio we go toward stern. It is an oil tanker you run could explode anytime” and we went away in a hurry. Then hardly all it was calmed we returned on the prow and realized that nothing irreparable could happen. The Raffaello simply had been leaned causing to relative damages you to the high flank of the Norwegian ship, while our prow rolled up, like two newspaper sheets although its thickness, wrapping painting drums and it blots of it polishers that served for the cleaning of the external decks, therefore destroying to the so-called cove of the lumber room where nearly all was kept the equipment for the every day job. In Algesiras there was not a pier where to berth for being able to repair the damage, it was so small that the keel of the Raffaello would have touched the bottom. So the disembarking passengers to Algesiras came down from board and brought to the land with an appropriate boat. We berthed therefore to Gibilterra where the day arrived after the square of laborers in order to reconstruct the piece of ripped prow. The Italy Society of navigation, estimating the damage and considering that they would be it passes some days, through the head commissioner churches to the passengers if they wanted to remain at board or to go away, therefore was, many continued with airplane to New York. Others remained at board all to expenses of the Society. We remained firm therefore to Gibilterra, we worked like if nothing it were happened and the evening were exited to make of the walks or to go to play some dollar to the casino. I did not know that what us could be within a casino, I did not have nearly 23 years but the country in Calabria where they are been born he was and it is a small country, calm, where a time was full of marine because sea always has been considered a job much hard one but it was and it is still a job of all respect. That small village that the NATO them has given to me calls Parghelia (VV) to the doors of the beautiful Tropea. After some days they repaired the prow and we left to the time of New York where I arrive to you and Mirra Roberto we came down to the land and encountered a group of journalists to news hunting. They would have intentional to know of like and because he had succeeded the crash, but I was not sure of Roberto to having or knowing to say as and because he had happened. This is what memory nearly clearly.
My name is Blasi Ignazio and I was part of the staff of room and catering (small of room) occupying the last place of infinite a hierarchical scale where but in my small I was respected and liked. Those little years have moderated to me but never frightened, they have been continuous adventures because then I made two travels on motor-ship M/N Antonio Pacinotti and then still a last alternation on Turbine-powered ship (T/N) Raffaello.
Today I live in Civitavecchia by now from many years and job to Rome like Operator specialized to the circulation in the great family that are the Railroads of the State. I would have to have meet the companions who are remained in my heart, and remember the great unforgettable moments of a small part of my life, impossible to forget. Thanks Scale, thanks Mirra, thanks Argiolas, thanks Casagrande, thanks Cricket, thanks Marmorato, thanks Tarsia, thanks Pisani. I can list them all but all are sure a great memory with immense respect. Mario, thanks”.