Italian Line

Italian Line and from 1992 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.

Italian Line
HeadquartersGenoa, Italy


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 Saturnia and Vulcania, the Lloyd Sabaudo-owned Conte Rosso, Conte Biancamano and Conte Grande and the NGI-owned Giulio Cesare, Duilio, Roma and Augustus. The same year two previously-ordered ocean liners were delivered to the company: Rex, that won the Blue Riband in 1933, and Conte di Savoia.

Giulio Cesare, built in 1923, in Italian Line service 1932–1937

In World War II the company lost many ships, including Rex and 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, Andrea Doria and 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 Andrea Doria with 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: Michelangelo and Raffaello. Building the ships took longer than expected, and they were not delivered until 1965. Being late into service, they were unable to compete profitably 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 Cristopher Columbo was also withdrawn from service at this time. The Leonardo da Vinci became a cruise ship in 1977–78, after which it was withdrawn due to high fuel costs. In 1979 and 1980 the company operated two ex-Lloyd Triestino liners, Galileo Galilei and Guglielmo Marconi, as 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.

International identifiersEdit

BIC Code (Container prefixes): ITAU


Passenger shipsEdit

Container shipsEdit

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


Further readingEdit

  • Italia Line: Official website – page offline – please refer to History of CP Ships
  • 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
  • Miller, William H (1999). Picture History of the Italian Line, 1932–1977. Dover Publications. ISBN 978-0-486-40489-9.

External linksEdit