8 things you didn’t know about the world of ships

Sustainable and always efficient, waterborne transport is one of the most ancient forms of displacement in the world. Ships are extraordinary means, conceived since ancientness for the transportation of goods, people and war equipment. Italian Traditions recounts, to curious and fond people of this extensive and interesting marine sector, 8 goodies regarding: history, features and weirdness about the world of crafts!

1. The first transatlantic ships had large gyroscopes set onboard to cancel the sea effect: huge spinning tops, weighing several tons, kept the ship in a vertical position by swirling . Nowadays we get the same result thanks to movable fins which stick out of the hull.

2. The fastest ship of the world is a catamaran of about 76 meters long, baptized “Destriero” (Steed). It was realized in 1991 by Fincantieri workshops and only one year later it crossed the Atlantic at an average speed of 53 knots (98 km/h), conquering the “Nastro Azzurro” (blue ribbon). It’s record is still unbeaten.

3. In 2012, the shipwreck that happened in Costa Concordia, wasn’t the first in Italian navy’s history. The most fatal per number of victims (more than 300) was the case of Princess Mafalda, which vertically sunk in 1927. The destiny of its twin, Princess Jolanda, hadn’t been better though, sinking during launch 20 years before.

4. The oldest ship in the world still floating is the American sailing ship USS Constitution, launched in 1798. Currently moored at Charlestown’s port, in Boston.

5. All ships, as well as planes, in case of immediate danger of sinking, falling or crashing, transmit a radio signal called: "Mayday". It is recognized by everyone as a help request message, that must be repeated three times and which then follows the spoken message of help request. This term comes from the French word “m'aidez", that means “help me", and it’s pronounced "medè". Consequently, it was then perceived in English as mayday.

6. In the Sichuan Province in China, a museum dedicated to the Titanic is being built: the highlight of the attraction is a 1:1 scale model of the ship. It’ll not sail, but for the rest, it will be identical to the original, shipwreck and icebergs included, it also seems that a realistic simulation will be inclusive with the ticket price!

7. With thousands of passengers on board, cruise ships look alike floating cities. Also for how they foul up: to navigate, each of these giants of the sea burns about 13 tons of fuel per hour, the production of a small refinery.

8. The speed of ships is measured in knots, a term that has an ancient origin. Once, when current technology didn’t exist, speed was calculated with a dutchman's log. This tool was made from a lanyard (rope) and from a tablet, to avoid the log to remain awash, it was ballasted with a weight on one side. The lanyard was knotted and the nodes were all at a fixed distance. As the ship proceeded, spinning at sea the dutchman’s log, it was possible to count the nodes of the rope which were "withheld" from the tablet.