22 February 2021

The jewel of the Italian Navy celebrates its 90th anniversary

On February 12, 1931 the training ship Amerigo Vespucci was launched at the Royal Shipyard.

On February 12, 1931 the training ship Amerigo Vespucci was launched at the Royal Shipyard.

Birth of Amerigo Vespucci

The design of the most famous training ship in the world was entrusted to the engineer and lieutenant
colonel Francesco Rotundi who directed the work from the shipyards of Castellammare di Stabia, in the
province of Naples. The Amerigo Vespucci was built on the model of the sailing ship “Monarca”, the
flagship of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The purpose of its construction was to replace the namesake training ship, the first ship named after the great explorer and navigator Amerigo Vespucci.

The two almost twin sisters

The Amerigo Vespucci had a twin ship launched three years earlier and only slightly smaller.
The training ship Cristoforo Colombo, named in honor of the great navigator, had a history decidedly “more unfortunate” than her most illustrious sister.
In 1949, the ship was handed over the Soviet Union as war compensation along with other military vessels.
The Cristoforo Colombo was renamed Dunay (Danube), its black and white striped coloration was changed to a sad grey, and for the following ten years it was used as a training ship at Odessa in the Black Sea. The ill-fated sister ship of Amerigo Vespucci was dismasted in 1961 and turned into a motored cargo vessel for the commercial transport of wood.
In 1963 a fire broke out on board destroying the hull. The Cristoforo Colombo was then abandoned and
removed from the register of mercantile vessels.

The most beautiful ship in the world

In 1962, while sailing in the Mediterranean, the US aircraft carrier USS Independence (CVA-62) flashed the
vessel asking «Who are you?». «Training Ship Amerigo Vespucci, Italian Navy» was the answer.
To this answer the US aircraft carrier turned off the engines, renounced to the right of way,
played three siren shots and replied «You are the most beautiful ship in the world».

«Not who begins but who perseveres»

To Naval Academy students the very motto of the Amerigo Vespucci, made official in 1978, expresses the
necessary determination to persevere in the naval career.

The Boatswain’s whistle

Amerigo Vespucci represents tradition. Even today, each order on board is given by the Captain through
the boatswain with the whistle. A coded language in which each whistle, note, or pause corresponds to a
specific command.
Since the launch on 1931, the Amerigo Vespucci has had 18 boatswain, their names are engraved in a plate preserved inside the ship.

Goodwill Ambassador of UNICEF Italy

Since 2007 the Italian square-rigged training ship Amerigo Vespucci has been a goodwill ambassador for the
United Nations children’s fund UNICEF. Through training and education activities, the Amerigo Vespucci
conveys to young people a message of peace, coexistence and mutual respect without distinction of race,
language, religion and political opinion, showing solidarity and support for UNICEF initiatives.

Crew and student training campaign

The core of the Amerigo Vespucci is its crew of 286 soldiers: 16 officers, 70 non-commissioned officers and 200 sailors.
During training time more than 100 students and support personnel of the Naval Academy are added,
reaching almost 400 units.
The training ship departed from Livorno on June 29, 2021 for the 2020-2021 education campaign and will
be back in Taranto on August 22, 2022.
During the educational campaign the cadets will extend their basic knowledge of navigation and life at sea. Amerigo Vespucci has trained generations of officers, carrying out more than 70 educational campaigns around the world.
Through the Marina Militare website you can get the details of the current Voyage of the Amerigo
Vespucci, including its position so as to take the opportunity to see the beautiful vessel with your own eyes.