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The Italian Line or Italia Line, whose official name was Italia di Navigazione S.p.A., was a passenger shipping line that operated regular transatlantic services between Italy and the United States, and Italy and South America. During the late 1960s the company turned to running cruises, and from 1981 it became a global freight operator.
The company was founded in 1932 through a merger of the Genoa-based Navigazione Generale Italiana (NGI), the Turin-based Lloyd Sabaudo, and the Trieste-based Cosulich STN lines, encouraged by the Italian government. The new company acquired the Cosulich-owned ships MS Saturnia and MS Vulcania, the Lloyd Sabaudo-owned SS Conte Rosso, SS Conte Biancamano and SS Conte Grande and the NGI-owned SS Giulio Cesare, SS Duilio, SS Roma and MS Augustus. The same year two previously commissioned ocean liners were delivered to the company: SS Rex, that captured the Blue Riband in 1933, and SS Conte di Savoia.
During World War II, the company lost many ships, including the Rex and the Conte di Savoia. Others were captured by the United States and converted into troopships; four of them survived the war: Conte Biancamano, Conte Grande, Saturnia, and Vulcania.
Commercial service was resumed in 1947 under the company's new name Società di navigazione Italia. In addition to the four vessels returned to the company by the United States, two new vessels, SS Andrea Doria and SS Cristoforo Colombo were commissioned in 1953 and 1954. In 1956, Andrea Doria, the company's three-year-old flagship collided with the Swedish ship Stockholm near Nantucket and sank, with passenger deaths estimated at 46 or 55. The company replaced the Andrea Doria with the SS Leonardo da Vinci, which went into service in 1960. This ship was based on the same design as Andrea Doria, but was larger, and featured technical innovations.
In the late 1950s, aircraft passenger travel had yet to have a noticeable effect on ocean-going passenger numbers between the United States and the Mediterranean. The Italian Line, therefore, ordered two new ships, the SS Michelangelo and SS Raffaello. Construction of the ships took longer than expected, and they were not delivered until 1965. Being late into service, they were not able to profitably compete on the North Atlantic route. Although planned for cruising as an alternative, the ships had several design flaws that made their use as cruise ships problematic.
Despite huge financial loss, the Italian Line operated the transatlantic route until 1976, after which the Leonardo da Vinci was withdrawn from service; the Michelangelo and Raffaello had been sold the previous year. The Leonardo da Vinci became a cruise ship in 1977–1978, after which it was withdrawn due to high fuel costs. In 1979 and 1980 the company operated two ex-Lloyd Triestino liners, SS Galileo Galilei and SS Guglielmo Marconi, as a cruise ships, but this again proved unprofitable.
Because of the unprofitability of the cruise business, the Italian Line turned to freight shipping. It operated its principal container services between the Mediterranean, the west coast of North America, and Central and South America, carrying about 180,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) of freight in 2001.
Previously owned by the Italian government, the company was privatized in 1998 when sold to d'Amico Società di Navigazione. In August 2002, it was acquired by CP Ships, and in 2005 the Italian Line name ceased to exist following CP's one-brand strategy. CP Ships itself was bought-out in late 2005 by TUI AG, and merged with Hapag-Lloyd in mid-2006.
SCAC Code: ITAU
BIC Code (Container prefixes): ITAU
|1908||SS Tel Aviv||8312 GRT||Russell & Co., Scotland||1932–1934||Former Cosulich Line ship; scrapped 1934|
|1917||SS Colombo||12003 GRT||Palmer S.& E. Co. Ld., Jarrow on Tyne||1932–1941||Refurbished in passenger vessel by Cantieri Baia Napoli. Scuttled at Massaua, 3 April 1941|
|1922||SS Giulio Cesare||21848 GRT||Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Ltd, UK||1932–1937||transferred to Lloyd Triestino|
|1923||SS Conte Verde||18765 GRT||William Beardmore & Co., Scotland||1932–1940|
|1923||SS Duilio||24281 GRT||Ansaldo Shipyards, Italy||1932–1937||transferred to Lloyd Triestino, scrapped 1948|
|1925||SS Conte Biancamano||24416 GRT||William Beardmore & Co., Scotland||1932–1940
|1926||SS Roma||32583 GRT||Ansaldo Shipyards, Italy||1932–1939|
|1926||MS Vulcania||23970 GRT||Cantiere Navale Triestino, Italy||1932–1940
|sold to Siosa Lines|
|1927||MS Saturnia||23940 GRT||Cantiere Navale Triestino, Italy||1932–1940
|1927||SS Conte Grande||25661 GRT||Stabilimento Tecnico Triestino, Italy||1932–1940
|scrapped in 1961|
|1927||SS Conte Rosso||18017 GRT||William Beardmore & Co., Scotland||1932–1940||torpedoed and sunk by HMS Upholder, 24 May 1941|
|1928||MS Augustus||32650 GRT||Ansaldo Shipyards, Italy||1932–1939||largest diesel-engined liner of her time|
|1932||SS Conte di Savoia||48502 GRT||Cantieri Riuniti dell' Adriatico, Italy||1932–1940||scuttled in Venice by retreating German forces, 11 September 1943. Raised 1945 and scrapped.|
|1932||SS Rex||51062 GRT||Ansaldo Shipyards, Italy||1932–1940||bombed and sunk off Trieste by RAF and SAAF bombers, 8 September 1944|
|1932||MS Neptunia||19475 GRT||Cantieri Riuniti dell' Adriatico, Italy||1937–1940||torpedoed and sunk by HMS Upholder, 18 September 1941|
|1932||MS Oceania||19507 GRT||Cantieri Riuniti dell' Adriatico, Italy||1937–1940||torpedoed and sunk by HMS Upholder, 18 September 1941|
|1951||MS Giulio Cesare||27078 GRT||Cantieri Riuniti dell' Adriatico, Italy||1951–1973||scrapped 1973|
|1951||MS Augustus||27090 GRT||Cantieri Riuniti dell' Adriatico, Italy||1952–1976||scrapped 2012|
|1951||SS Andrea Doria||29083 GRT||Ansaldo Shipyards, Italy||1953–1956||capsized and sank on 25 July 1956 after colliding with MS Stockholm|
|1953||SS Cristoforo Colombo||29191 GRT||Ansaldo Shipyards, Italy||1954–1977||scrapped 1982 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan|
|1960||SS Leonardo da Vinci||33340 GRT||Ansaldo Shipyards, Italy||1960–1980||burned and capsized 4 July 1980, raised and scrapped 1982|
|1951||MS Rossini||13225 GRT||Cantieri Riuniti dell' Adriatico - San Marco Trieste, Italy||1963||scrapped 1977|
|1951||MS Donizetti||13226 GRT||Cantieri Riuniti dell' Adriatico - San Marco Trieste, Italy||1963||scrapped 1977|
|1951||MS Verdi||13226 GRT||Cantieri Riuniti dell' Adriatico - San Marco Trieste, Italy||1963||scrapped 1977|
|1963||SS Guglielmo Marconi||27905 GRT||Cantieri Riuniti dell' Adriatico, Italy||1975–1981||scrapped 2002|
|1965||T/S Michelangelo||45911 GRT||Ansaldo Shipyards, Italy||1965–1975||scrapped 1991|
|1965||T/S Raffaello||45933 GRT||Cantieri Riuniti dell' Adriatico, Italy||1965–1975||sunk 1983|
|Built||Name||Tonnage||Capacity||Shipyard||IMO number||Call sign||Flag||Status/Comments|
|1985||Aquitania||17702 GT||1077 TEU||Stocznia Szczecinska S.A., Poland||8300975||HPUE||Panama||1991 chartered, 1993 purchased from Cyprus|
|1989||Cristoforo Colombo||32630 GT||3632 TEU||Fincantieri-Cantieri Navali Italiani S.p.A., Italy||8618449||ICYS||Italy||2002 to d'Amico shipping Italia|
|1989||Amerigo Vespucci||32630 GT||3632 TEU||Fincantieri-Cantieri Navali Italiani S.p.A., Italy||8618451||ICBA||Italy||2002 to d'Amico shipping Italia|
|1991||S. Caboto||15783 GT||1268 TEU||Fincantieri-Cantieri Navali Italiani S.p.A., Italy||8618413||ICMS||Italy||2002 to d'Amico shipping Italia|
|1992||California||17123 GT||1410 TEU||Naikai Zosen Corp., Japan||8901743||ICFC||Italy||2002 to d'Amico shipping Italia|
|1994||Cielo del Cile||15778 GT||1512 TEU||Thyssen Nordseewerke GmbH, Germany||9046253||ELVB3||Liberia||2002 to d'Amico shipping Italia|
|1997||Dollart Trader||16165 GT||1608 TEU||MTW Schiffswerft GmbH, Germany||9162356||V2OD5||Antigua & Barbuda||2002 to d'Amico shipping Italia|
|1998||Cielo di San Francisco||25359 GT||2474 TEU||Volkswerft Stralsund GmbH, Germany||9153408||DGZO||Germany||2002 to d'Amico shipping Italia|
|1998||Cielo del Canada||25361 GT||2470 TEU||Meeres-Technik-Wismar, Germany||9138290||V2PE2||Antigua & Barbuda||2002 to d'Amico shipping Italia|
|2000||Cielo del Caribe||13066 GT||1302 TEU||Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft MbH & Co. KG, Germany||9202053||ELXN2||Liberia||2002 to d'Amico shipping Italia|
|2002||Cielo d'America||25580 GT||2462 TEU||Thyssen Nordseewerke GmbH, Germany||9239733||ICCV||Italy||2002 to d'Amico shipping Italia|
|2002||Cielo d'Europa||25535 GT||2462 TEU||Thyssen Nordseewerke GmbH, Germany||9236664||ICCP||Italy||2002 to d'Amico shipping Italia|
- GRT is Gross Register Tonnage
- Bureau International des Containers (Container prefix codes, now linking Italia Line units to Hapag-Lloyd due to the merger)
- CP Ships: Press release – CP Ships Completes Acquisition of Italia Di Navigazione, 6 August 2002
- CP Ships: Press release – CP Ships Adopts a Single Brand, 28. April 2005
- Italia Line: Official website – page offline – please refer to History of CP Ships
- The Ships List (extensive list of ships operated by Italian Line)
- Maritime Timetable images (Collection of old company brochures)
- The Picture History of the Italian Line, 1932–1977 (book on amazon.com)
- The Last Ocean Liners – Italian Line – trade routes and ships of the Italian Line in the 1950s, 60s and 70s