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The Garelliana collection is among the most interesting assemblies in the archives of the Genoa Pegli maritime museum and consists of approximately 450 items, such as watercolours, paintings, prints and ship models. Fabio Garelli (Florence, 1860– Genoa, 1942) obtained his degree with honours in naval architecture from the University of Genoa in 1889, presenting the design for an ocean liner for the South American run; for many years he was a prominent character in the sector of shipping companies. In his position as NGI's technical director he initially designed the transatlantic liners of the “Royal” and “Ducal” class and, immediately afterwards, he drafted the forthcoming Duilio and Giulio Cesare.


A litograph printed in 1922 for travel agency to promote the Duilio and obtained from a painting by N. Zanolio.

The first drawings by Garelli for the two vessels dated back to 1910, when NGI envisaged building two sisterships for the Latin America service of approximately 15,000 tons and a larger liner, about 20,000 gross tons, for the express service between Genoa, Naples and New York..

In 1912, after the decision to reduce the number of newbuildings to two, the shipping world was upset by the tragedy of the Titanic and all the rules on watertight compartmentalisation and the means of evacuation were questioned.

Although a deal on the minimum safety of life at sea (SOLAS) requirements was reached in London in 1914, the agreement could not be ratified owing to the outbreak of the Great War. Nevertheless, in order to cope with public expectations, all shipping companies, including NGI, decided to invest in improving safety, although it meant an increase in costs and building time.

At last, in December 1913, Ansaldo of Genoa was entrusted by Navigazione Generale with the construction of the Duilio, while the contract for an almost identical vessel, the Giulio Cesare, was awarded to the well-known yard Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Ltd, based at Wallsend-on-Tyne, builder, among many famous ships, of the crack Cunarder Mauretania, at the time holder of the Blue Riband; NGI had organised a call for tenders for the second ship which involved several European builders. The English yard won the contract also because it could offer a relatively short construction time, which met NGI's desire to have both vessels completed at the same time, in Summer 1916. The two shipyards would develop the design autonomously and it's indeed interesting to point out that Duilio and Giulio Cesare were similar but different, also in the hull forms.

The painter Guido Marussig, from Trieste, was entrusted by NGI to create the ship's logo for the early promotiona material of the Duilio.

The beautifully designed luggage tags were sought after by the passengers to decorate their steamer trunks

Meanwhile, in 1912, Fabio Garelli left NGI, following one of their top managers, Agostino Crespi, who had been appointed president of the rival company Transatlantica Italiana and as a consequence the task to update and finalise the design of the ships was taken up by another well-known naval architect of the time, Nabor Soliani (Brescello, 1850-Genoa 1930), director of the Ansaldo shipyard. Possibly the most evident change he made was the new cruiser stern, which beside being stronger, allowed more space to accommodate four shafts; the Duilio was the first quadruple screw liner built in Italy, she was 20,000 tons, 200 metres long and had a speed of 20 knots...

Giulio Cesare and Duilio represented a massive economic investment for NGI, which intended to put in service two transatlantic liners much superior to the previous Italian ones; their new flagships were also intended to respond to similar initiatives from rival companies, particularly the Lloyd Sabaudo which, at the same time was defining the construction contract of the future Conte Rosso with the Scottish shipyard of William Beardmore.

These events testify that the eve of the Great War was a period of great turmoil in the renovation programme of the Italian merchant marine, stimulated by the country’s industrial growth and by the constantly increasing flow of migrants to America.

In addition to Navigazione Generale and Lloyd Sabaudo, the Italia and the Transatlantica Italiana steam navigation companies also announced their intention to build new tonnage that for size, speed and luxury would represent a significant step forward compared to their previous vessels.

The outbreak of the conflict had devastating consequences on the development of these companies and on their intended new flagships, but historical analysis of this period nevertheless reveals that, remarkably, in 1914, Italy was about to take an important position in the rank of the maritime nations and line services. The emergency situation created by the long conflict would postpone but not block this evolution.

The twins Conte Rosso and Conte Verde and Duilio and Giulio Cesare, though completed in the 'Twenties, would prove modern and important vessels for many years to come.

Even more striking could have been the sisterships Andrea Doria and Camillo Cavour of the Transatlantica Italiana (designed by Ansaldo but never built) or the Kaiserin Elisabeth belonging to the Austro-Americana of Trieste (later to become known as Cosulich Line) and destroyed before she could leave the stocks of the Monfalcone shipyard.



A coloured longitudinal section of the Duilio, realised by the Ansaldo at the time of the building of the ship.



KEEL LAYING: 30/05/1914

LAUNCH: 09/01/1916

MAIDEN VOYAGE: Genova-New York 31/10/1923

SHIP YARD: Ansaldo S.A., Genova Sestri Ponente


COMPANY: Navigazione Generale Italiana, Genova

FLAG: Italian 





PROPULSION: 4 turbines direct coupled to shaft

SERVICE SPEED: 19,00 knots

TOP SPEED:  20.50 knots

POWER: 22000 SHP





CREW: 480

FATE: Bombed and sunk by Allied planes at the Vallone di Zaule (Trieste) 10/07/1944