“The White Arrow”, “The Dove of the Orient”, “The Ship of Maharajahs”... these were some of the epithets which were given to the motorship Victoria of the Lloyd Triestino. At the end of the 'Twenties, the company's technical office was faced with a complex but obvious problem: the design of a new liner which would replace the two already obsolete vessels Helouan and Vienna, born before the First World War which, with the exception of those wartime years, had served with dignity on the express route between Italy and Alexandria in Egypt.
The higher speeds obtainable with the latest generation of propulsion machinery, the competition posed by the Società Italiana di Servizi Marittimi (SITMAR) of Genoa which was running its two most recent steamships, Esperia and Ausonia, on the same route, a worrying contraction in traffic and, finally, the restructuring of the Lloyd Triestino by Lloyd Sabaudo, persuaded the company to order just a single ship; the possibility of a sister ship would have to wait for more favourable economic times. Following a favourable experience with some diesel-driven combi-ships, it was decided that the new flagship should be a motor vessel: four powerful Sulzer diesels, built at the famous Fabbrica Macchine Sant'Andrea of Trieste, were connected directly to the same number of propellers with the intention of giving the ship a service speed of 20 knots.
An oil on canvas by Paolo Klodic painted in 1931 on the occasion of the entry into service of the ship (Maurizio Eliseo Collection).
The Victoria (a name chosen after consideration had been given to Alessandrina and Cleopatra) was also one of the very first passenger ships in the World built to the new standards of Safety of Life At Sea (SOLAS 1929); in addition to a cellular double bottom which extended from the fore to the stern peak, she was divided into eleven watertight compartments with the engine room in the middle section and the forward and aft sections devoted to cargo. There was also a garage for cars accessible over a ramp connected to the quay. Despite being much smaller than the great transatlantic liners, the Victoria attracted international attention for several reasons: apart from her speed, she had a particularly graceful and streamlined appearance, her interiors were in the Modern style and the first class main lounge was fitted with air-conditioning: she was indeed the first passenger ship in the World to have this amenity thanks to a plant designed by the Carrier company of America and built in England.
KEEL LAYING: 05/03/1930
MADEN VOYAGE: Trieste-Alexandria 06/27/1931
SHIP YARD: Cantiere San Marco, Trieste
HULL NUMBER: 782
COMPANy: Lloyd Triestino, Trieste
LENGTH OVERALL: 540 ft
WIDTH: 70 ft
GROSS TONNAGE: 13062 tsl