Three masts, twenty-six sails, a 2000 square meters sail surface and a strong name that pays tribute to one of the most famous explorers and sailors. No, it is not a sailboat from pirate movies we are used to but of the Amerigo Vespucci ship, the prestigious training ship of the Marina Militare (Italian navy) used for the training of officer case of the Navy Academy.
Just like the great sailor after which it is named, the Amerigo Vespucci s navigates under full sail, unrestrainable alberi maestri, ventisei vele, una superficie, imposing, majestic. So, for 90 years, this ship of the Marina Militare italiana has been an integral part of the training of officer cadets of the Navy Academy and it has become a true symbol of Italian nautical tradition.
The construction plan of the Amerigo Vespucci dates back to 1925, when it was designed to replace the previous training ship, together with its twin Cristoforo Colombo, initially ceded to URSS and subsequently destroyed in a fire in 1963. The official launch of the ship takes place in February of 1931 in Castellammare di Stabia, in the location where it was built.
The Amerigo Vespucci in numbers
We have already said that the masts of this ship are three, respectively 54, 50 and 43 meters high, with a total of 26 sails made of canvas, a very resistant rough natural fiber, and a sail surface of 2000 square meters. The ship is 101 meters long, 15,56 meters wide and a draight – the part of the ship that goes under water – of 7,3 meters.
The ship has a significant capacity, it has a fixed crew of 264 membri, of which 15 are officials, 64 petty officers and 185 sailors, but it can host double the number with volunteer cadets and pupils of the Navy Academy.
History and traditions of the Storia Amerigo Vespucci
Launched in 1931, the Amerigo Vespucci ship was conceived as a training ship and meant to be used as training facility. Up to World War II it was coupled with the Cristoforo Colombo ship, after that – from 1946 to 1952 – it remained the only training sail ship of the Italian Navy. Subsequently, it was coupled with the Ebe ship and then with the Palinuro ship, 1955.
Over the years, the Amerigo Vespucci ha salso covered the role of ambassador of nautical culture and of Italian art at sea, sailing to the most important harbors in the world. In fact, it was present in Athens at the 2004 Olympics’ opening event and in Portsmouth for the commemoration of the battle of Trafalgar in 2005.
The persistence in keeping the most ancient nautical traditions is connected also to the fact that the sails, as mentioned, are made of duck, a fiber used for the making of a resistant fabric and that has been used in sailing for centuries. But not only that, the ropes are still made of traditional material and the manouvres are still carried out by hand, by order of the commander through the master-at-arms
“The most beautiful ship in the world”
Today, the Amerigo Vespucci is the oldest ship in the Italian navy still in operation. But in addition to being one of the oldest in the world, in 1962 it has been defined by United States’ carrier USS Independence as “the most beautiful ship in the world”, during their encounter in the Mediterranean Sea.
Due to its grandeur and majesty, the Amerigo Vespucci is one of the symbols that our country is most proud of. A symbol of elegance, power and a century-old tradition which Italy is particularly fond of and that of which it can boast about. From 1978 the motto of the ship, that once was dedicated to the king and to the country, and subsequently to the fury of the winds, is “Not he who commences, but he who perseveres”.