S.S. "Leonardo da Vinci"



The S.S. "Leonardo da Vinci" was an ocean liner with a notable history, built by Ansaldo Shipyards in Genoa, Italy, for the Italian Line. Named after the famous Italian inventor and artist, the ship was launched on December 7, 1958, and made its maiden voyage to New York on June 30, 1960.

The "Leonardo da Vinci" was constructed as a replacement for the S.S. "Andrea Doria," which had been lost in 1956. It was initially used in transatlantic service alongside the S.S. "Cristoforo Colombo," and primarily for cruising after the delivery of the new S.S. "Michelangelo" and S.S. "Raffaello" in 1965.

The ship was designed to be visually balanced and featured numerous technological innovations, including provisions for conversion to run on nuclear power. The interior layout was somewhat unusual due to space reserved amidship for a potential reactor, which necessitated the dining rooms and galleys to be located one deck higher than usual and separated from the ship's main working passage.

In terms of safety, the "Leonardo da Vinci" was equipped with lifeboat davits capable of launching lifeboats against a 25-degree list, motorized lifeboats, and extended watertight bulkheads. The engine rooms were separated into two compartments, each capable of powering the ship independently.

The ship's public spaces were designed by several Italian designers, and it boasted features like an infrared-heated swimming pool for first-class passengers and air-conditioning throughout the vessel.

In June 1976, the "Leonardo da Vinci" ended her trans-Atlantic service. She lay idle until July 1977, when she was reactivated by Italia Line Cruises International for Miami-Nassau overnight cruises. However, the ship proved too large and expensive for this service and was eventually laid up at La Spezia.

The "Leonardo da Vinci" suffered a mysterious fire on July 4, 1980, while at anchor at La Spezia. The fire lasted four days, leaving the ship capsized and severely damaged. She was towed out of the main harbor, righted, and eventually scrapped in 1982.

Throughout her career, the "Leonardo da Vinci" was known for her elegance and technological advancements, but also faced challenges such as instability in rough weather, which required the addition of 3,000 tons of iron along her bottom to stabilize her. This modification made her too heavy for her engines, resulting in high fuel costs and making her the most expensive liner the Italia Line had ever operated.


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