Conte di Savoia
The Conte di Savoia came into existence in parallel with the Rex, of which she was the alter ego on the express route between Genoa and New York between 1932 and 1940. Both ships were brought into service by the Italia Flotte Riunite in the Autumn of 1932 but both had originally been ordered by rival companies and the only similarities between them were their dimensions, speed and hotel arrangements. They were conceived to compete with each other and it is interesting to note how very different they were. If the Rex, with her old-fashioned and neoclassic décor, could be defined as the last of the floating palaces, the Conte di Savoia represented an authentic revolution among ocean liners with her lounges in a genuinely Modern style. She was a masterpiece thanks to a Marriage Made in Heaven between the naval architect responsible for the project (Nicolò Costanzi, an able artist and aesthete) and the designer in charge of the interiors (Gustavo Pulitzer Finali).
To the Lloyd Sabaudo, who had ordered the Conte di Savoia, must be given the credit for having the courage to launch the original project (a classic of its kind), to pursue a revolutionary course and to propose a new stereotype for the décor of large ocean liners, based on the success, shortly before, of the motorship Victoria of the Lloyd Triestino which had been designed by the same team and built in the same shipyard. To be frank, the designs of Pulitzer and his team, the German architects Michael Rachlis and Georg Manner, were so modern that they scared the directors of the company to the point where they brought in Adolfo Coppedé to redesign the Ballroom in the most ornate Baroque style. This was a strange intrusion into such a futuristic ship, which was so much liked by American passengers that she attracted greater bookings than the Rex. However, she had to live in the shadow of her running-mate due to the latter's success in winning the Blue Riband. In this respect, it should be noted that it was to the Conte di Savoia that the honour was first given to make an attempt on the record.
In March, 1933 she crossed from Gibraltar to New York at an average speed of 27.53 knots, arriving at her destination a day earlier than scheduled but failing by less than 0.4 knots to beat the record then held by the German Europa. In fact, during her sea trials the Conte di Savoia had proved to be the faster of the two Italian liners and, for the first time an English publication recognised her technical superiority. Among her many innovations, we should remember that she was the first in the World to have an anti-roll system designed to counteract the dreaded mal de mer.
KEEL LAYING: 10/04/1930
MAIDEN VOYAGE: Genova-New York 11/30/1932
SHIP YARD: Cantiere San Marco, Trieste
HULL NUMBER: 783
COMPANy: Italia Flotte Riunite (Italian Line), Genova
LENGTH OVERALL: 815 ft
WIDTH: 96,1 ft
GROSS TONNAGE: 48502 t.
PROPULSION: 4 sets of geared turbines
SERVICE SPEED: 27,00 knots
TOP SPEED: 29,50 knots
POWER: 130.000 horsepower
FIRST CLASS: 578
SECOND CLASS: 420
THIRD CLASS: 720
FATE: 1939 in Malamocco near Venice 1950 april 24, sold to be broken up at Monfalcone
GENERAL ARRANGEMENT PLANS
1929, 28th December: the contract is signed between Lloyd Sabaudo and the San Marco yard of Trieste.
1930, 4th October: the first plates of the keel of Yard No. 483 are laid. The press speculates that the name could be Conte Azzurro (a clear reference to an attempt on the Blue Riband – in Italian, Nastro Azzurro) or Guglielmo Marconi who is the Honorary President of the shipping company.
1931, 28th October: launched in the presence of the heir to the throne, Prince Umberto, and his wife, Maria José of Savoia who is the godmother of the ship.
1932, September: preliminary trials in the Gulf of Trieste.
1932, 16th October: leaves the yard to be drydocked in Venice, returning to embark her lifeboats and to run her preliminary trials in the Adriatic.
1932, 3rd November: leaves Trieste for Genoa where she arrives at 8 am on the 7th November. In the meantime, she calls at Naples on the 5th and 6th, where she embarks Prince Umberto.
1932, 14th November: during the speed trials in the Gulf of Genoa, she maintains an average speed of 29.43 knots, qualifying as the fastest ship in the World.
1932, 30th November: begins her inaugural voyage from Genoa to New York. She is the first liner in the World to have stabilisation machinery (three Sperry gyroscopes) to reduce rolling.
1932, 6th December: around 6 pm, while near the American coast, she experiences a leak in the engine room. To expose the port side, Captain Antonio Lena voluntarily lists the ship to starboard to allow a courageous volunteer, Seaman Gennaro Amatruda, to climb down the side of the ship to plug the leak.
1932, 7th December: arrives in New York five hours late.
1932, 14th December: leaves on her first eastbound crossing.
1932, 19th December: meets her first Atlantic storm and the stabilisers demonstrate their efficacy.
1933, March: tries without success to win the Blue Riband.
1934, 29th March: enters drydock in Genoa for modifications to the stern to reduce excessive yawing, returning to service on the 1st May.
1936, 7th January: work starts to remove the special class, continuing during the following four stays in Genoa, which for that reason are prolonged. The work is concluded on the 13th April.
1936, 9th December: The Italian Line leaves Pier 97 in New York and rents Piers 59 and 88 from the French Line, waiting for the completion of the new super-pier 90.
1937, 4th January: transferred to the new Italia Società Anonima di Navigazione at a valuation of 150 million lire.
1937, 6th March: hits her pier while leaving New York causing damage both to herself and the pier.
1938, 2nd March: leaves New York for a cruise to Naples, Falero, Haifa, Port Said and Genoa.
1938, 2nd April: leaves New York for another Mediterranean cruise.
1938, 16th June: The New York Times writes that the Conte di Savoia is still one of the most attractive ships ever to call at the port: that day, she is host to 7,000 paying visitors.
1938, 10th September: the ship's rowing team wins the International Lifeboat Race in New York in 19 minutes 21 seconds. The team from the Queen of Bermuda comes second and third place goes to the team from the steamship Turrialba of the United Fruit Company.
1939, 5th February: leaves New York for her longest ever cruise, organised by American Express, which takes her to Madeira, Las Palmas, Gibraltar, Cannes, Genoa, Naples, Falero, Istanbul, Rhodes, Beirut, Haifa, Port Said and Malta.
1939, 14th March: in an Atlantic storm, leaves her traditional route in order to go to the aid of the Norwegian cargo ship Bellnor 700 miles east of Belfast.
1939, 31st July: makes her only call at Hamilton, Bermuda.
1939, 15th September: leaves on her first voyage following the outbreak of the Second World War, with neutrality markings on her sides.
1940, 2nd June: arrives at Genoa at the end of her last Atlantic crossing after eluding a British patrol which would have searched her at Gibraltar.
1940, 8th June: arrives at Venice where she is laid up in the Malamocco Canal two days after Italy has entered the War.
1940: is camouflaged; in 1941, a new, wavy camouflage scheme is adopted; in 1943, the final scheme is painted on the port side, depicting trees, houses and hills.
1943, 11th September: in the confusion following the Italian Armistice, is mistakenly set on fire by German aircraft between 5.30 pm and 6 pm. Burns for 48 hours, listing onto her port side. Later she is sunk in order to prevent her capsizing.
1945, 10th October: after the removal of her superstructure, the ship refloats: studies are started for the reconstruction of the ship for the emigrant trade to South America but these plans are abandoned. Later , there are negotiations with the Holland America Line and the French Line for her sale and reconstruction, but these come to nothing.
1950, 7th January: sold to “Ricuperi Finsider s.a.”of Rome for demolition.
1950, 14th January: towed from Malamocco to Alberoni.
1950, 17th February: occupied by employees of the Breda shipyard of Marghera, who without any prospect of work, demand that they should be given the task of demolition.
1950, 24th April: arrives at the Monfalcone yard for demolition.
1951, 4th May: the dismantling of the great liner is completed.
A striking curiosity which took the eye of visitors and first class passengers entering the vestibule was that there were two large maps of the Atlantic – one with a model of the Conte di Savoia and one with a model of the Rex, which moved along routes showing the daily positions of the two ships; on these maps there were also posted the official logs of both vessels, an idea conceived by Gustavo Pulitzer Finali. On the 27th November, 1932 the Conte di Savoia sailed out of Genoa on her inaugural voyage to New York; however, in a replay of a previous embarrassment, on the morning of the 7th December, shortly before arriving, there occurred a mechanical breakdown which increasingly hindered her progress and which generated press comment comparing this mishap with the one which had happened to the Rex two months earlier.