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Transatlantica Italiana Societa Anonima di Navigazione

The Six steamers Ordered for the South American Service


Transatlantica Italiana Societa Anonima di Navigazione


In 1919, the Italian Transatlantica Italiana Societa Anonima di Navigazione of Genoa placed an order for six steamers from the Ansaldo Group of shipbuilders, who at that time owned the majority of the Company’s shares. There was a surplus building capacity at their Yards at Sestri Ponente and La Spezia and ultimately three steamers came from each Yard. They were originally designed as cargo steamers for the Company’s River plate service, but it was later decided to fit all of them with extensive passenger accommodation. These orders were made possible by increasing the Company’s share capital to 100 million lira.

After the first four had entered service and the other two were still on the stocks, the Banca Italiana di Sconto, the Ansaldo Group’s bankers, went bankrupt in September 1925, causing the collapse of the entire Ansaldo Group. From then onwards there was a succession of owners of the Company, which finally passed to the Credito Italiano. Meanwhile, efforts were made for the Company to obtain the concession for certain Italian subsidiary services, but on 22 December 1925, the Compagnia Italiana Transatlantica  (CITRA) was established in Rome who took over the concessions in question, acquired a further Transatlantica Italiana liner GARIBALDI dating from 1906, plus the final two ships ordered in 1919. The Transatlantica Italiana capital was reduced to 50 million lira.

The six steamers ordered in 1919 were as follows: CESARE BATTISTI, NAZARIO SAURO, AMMIRAGLIO BETTOLO, LEONARDO DA VINCI, GIUSEPPE MAZZINI and FRANCESCO CRISPI.  AMMIRAGLIO BETTOLO was sold in 1932, but by 1934 the Company was again in financial difficulties and transferred the remaining five ships to Tirrenia-Flotte Riunite Florio-Citra, another CITRA Company. There was thus no alternative but to wind up Transatlantica Italiana. 

CESARE BATTISTI was lost in 1936, in which year the structure of Italian Government subsidised lines were reorganised on a regional basis which resulted in the remaining ships being transferred to Lloyd Triestino Societa Anonima di Navigazione.

The six steamers’ histories were as follows:






Official Number   1244      8139 grt   4473 nrt         429.4 x 52.6 x 36.0 ft           Call Sign   NYLA

Same machinery details as above

24/05/21                Launched by G. Anslado & Co, Sestri Ponente as Yard Nr: 249

08/24                     Completed

09/24                     m.v. Genoa – Buenos Aires

1932                      Purchased by Misr Navigation Co, Egypt and renamed KAWSAB.

11/04/42                Whilst enroute to Port Said in neutral colours for safety, she was bombed by                                                Luftwaffe aircraft and burnt out in the Red Sea in position 31.34N 32.14E with                                            the loss of 2 of her crew. She was beached and later towed into Port Said                                                  North Harbour where she lay for several years.

01/47                     Was reportedly sold for demolition locally.







Official Number 1092           8331 grt   4505 nrt       445.0 x 53.0 x 31.0 ft        Call Sign   NIQW

 6 steam turbines DR geared to 2 shafts by G. Ansaldo & Co., Sampierdarena. 1126 nhp.   Speed15 knots

17/04/20                Launched by G. Ansaldo & Co., Sestri Ponente as Yard Nr: 236.

09/22                     Completed. m.v. Genoa – South America

1932                      Chartered to Tirrenia Line

1934                      Transferred to Tirrenia Line

24/12/36                Whilst carrying a cargo of munitions, she blew up and sank at Massawa,                                                     Italian Eritrea.





Official Number   1438        7464 grt   4255 nrt           447.1 x 52.9 x 26.8 ft          Call Sign NPXF

Same machinery details as above

192?                      Launched by Ansaldo San Giorgio, La Spezia as Yard Nr: 194

12/26                     Completed

19/04/43               Torpedoed and sunk by the British submarine HMS SARACEN in position                                                   40.45N 09.42E approx 18 miles from Cape La Serre, Elba on passage                                                        Leghorn to Bastia.





Official Number  1421            7453grt   4237nrt         434.6 x 51.2 x 28.1ft           Call Sign   NSLA

                              Same machinery details as above

192?                      Launched by Ansaldo San Giorgio, La Spezia as Yard Nr: 193

10/26                     Completed

02/04/41                Was bombed and sunk by RAF aircraft off Nocra on Dahlak Island off Italian                                                Eritrea.  Was later salvaged by the British and broken up.






                                                                      Leonardo Da Vinci 07


Official Number   1306   7432grt   4096nrt         427.1 x 52.5 x 36.0ft    Call Sign NVJA

Same machinery details as above

28/12/24                Launched by Ansaldo San Giorgio, La Spezia as Yard Nr 192

05/25                     Completed

24/05/25                m.v. Naples – Palermo – Boston – New York as there was little or no immediate                                            demand for her service on the South Atlantic run

10/25                     She made a second similar round voyage to  New York.

11/25                     First voyage to South America, the results of which were very disappointing.

1926 – 1929          Was laid up.

1934                     Transferred to Tirrenia Line.

1936                     Suffered a serious fire and had to be reconstructed. Accommodated 450                                                     passengers

17/12/36               Transferred to Lloyd Triestino.

11/02/41                Captured by HMS HAWKINS at Kismayu during the Somaliland Campaign.

14/02/41                Handed over to Ellerman Lines, London for management and sailed for                                                      Mombasa for temporary repairs. As her crew had sabotaged her engines.

1942                      Converted into a hospital ship.

03/42                     On completion of conversion, she was taken over by the MoWT and renamed                                            EMPIRE CLYDE under management of City Line, London as an Army                                                        Hospital Ship.

05/45                     Taken over for use as a Naval Hospital Ship.

1947                      Purchased by the Admiralty.

01/01/48                Transferred to the RFA and on 26/01/48 formally renamed RFA MAINE (4)

1950’s                    Saw service during the Korean War

22/05/53                 the President of South Korea awarded the Presidential Unit Citation of the                                                   Republic of Korea to RFA Maine for meritorious service in the Korean War theatre                                       from February 1951 to July 1952

05/03/54                Official announcement made that she was to be disposed of.

26/04/54                Her operational service ended at Hong Kong.

25/05/54                Sold to local breakers for demolition.




Official Number   1211        8150 grt   4491 nrt         447.1 x 52.7 x 27.7 ft        Call Sign   NZVU

Same machinery details as above.

14/05/21                Launched by G. Ansaldo & Co, Sestri Ponente as Yard Nr 248

02/24                     Completed. m.v. Genoa – South America.

1932                      Chartered to Tirrenia Line.

1934                      Transferred to Tirrenia Line

1936                      Transferred to Lloyd Triestino

06/04/41                Was deliberately scuttled at Dahlak Island off Massawa, Italian Eritrea.

1948                      The wreck was raised and scrapped by Messrs Rippon (Africa) Ltd.