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With Reuben Goossens
Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer, Author & Lecturer
Please Note: All ssmaritime and my other related ssmaritime sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned sites. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any cruise or shipping companies or travel/cruise agencies or any other organisations! The author has been in the passenger shipping industry since May 1960 and is now semi-retired, but continues to write article on classic liners and cruise ships in order to better to inform cruise and ship enthusiasts for their pleasure!
SS Conte DI Savoia
long and sleek Italian Liner SS Conte Di Savoia is seen berthed in
Photographer is unknown - *Please see photo notes at the bottom of the page, thank you!
This Page Contains Many Photographs!
Photographs are from the Author’s Private collection, or as otherwise stated
The first thing we should
understand is this, that these two ships are certainly not identical sister
ships as is assumed by so many. In fact each ship was originally ordered by two
very different shipping companies and the SS Rex was built in
Above left we see the Conte Di Savoia and on the Right is the Rex, and as you can see their forward
superstructures are very different indeed, where the Rex even has a lifeboat forward of the Promenade Deck!
Yet there were also a good number of similarities that gave them a look of similarity; however they were remained very different ships to the end. In addition the Conte Di Savoia was the first liner to be fitted with a triple “Sperry Gyroscopic Stabilizing” plant, assisting her in reducing the ship rolling during bad weather whilst on Atlantic crossings!
The advertisement revealing details of where the plant was located
But after three Italian big Trans-Atlantic shipping Companies were forced to merge in October 1931 and both ships were completed for the Italian Line, and as they commenced their maiden voyages just two months apart, they are somehow treated as sisters! Although I treat them as very separate ships and as I tend to think that the SS Conte Di Savoia was the superior ship of the two, a far superior designed liner, but she was also a revolutionary ship of the two liners built, and therefore I will be only writing about this great Italian Lady alone, for so many have already covered the Rex and have forgotten the most beautiful of the two the sublime SS Conte Di Savoia!
Early in 1929 plans for a new ship was
already in hand and this would be the companies, being “Lloyd
Sabaudo’s” grandest new liner, and in April of that year a meeting
was held in Turin of the company’s stockholders who collectively agreed
to this new 48,500-ton liner. It was also decided that she would be built by
The keel of the future “Conte Di Savoia,” was laid down in Constructed in Yard number 783 on October 4, 1930, and not September 3, as some sources have it! Construction continued in a well-mannered Italian fashion and she slowly rose up and her glorious bow stood tall as she getting close to her launch day! But already Lloyd Sabaudo was bust promoting their new grand Liner!
Lloyd Sabaudo’s advance brochure of their new luxury liner
A Year after her keel laying, on October 18, 1931 she was officially named by Marie José of Belgium, who was the last Italian Queen and she watched this great ship slowly slide down the slipway into the water.
Here we see her beautiful bow go down the slipway as she enters the water on October 18, 1931
Having been launched, she is taken under tow and taken to her fit-our berth
She was then towed to her Fit-Out berth for completion, which was now undertaken for “Italia Societa Anonima di Navigazione” or the “Italia Line” as she had been by then transferred.
A postcard of the SS Conte di Savoia
She was finally fully completed late in
September 1932 and thereafter she undertook a series of deep sea trails, with
the final one on October 14, and the great ship was delivered to her owners in
Genoa several days thereafter giving them time to get the ship fully stocked
and manned for her role as a full time Trans-Atlantic Liner with accommodation
for 2,200 Passengers. When ready the magnificent new SS Conte Di Savoia
departed on her maiden voyage from
we see the SS Conte di Savoia departing
Being a steamship she had been given four powerful Parsons geared turbines powering Quadruple screws, giving her 130,000 BHP that gave her an impressive speed of 27.3 knots with a maximum speed of an amazing 29.5 Knots.
This beautifully designed 48,502 Gross Registered Ton Liner was 248.3m - 815ft long, a beam of 29.3m - 96.1ft and a draught of 9.5m - 31.2ft.
SS Conte di Savoia accommodated passengers in four classes with a total capacity of 2,200 guests, and this was made up as follows: 500 First Class, 366 Second Class, 412 Tourist Class, and 922 Third Class passengers, she had a Crew of 786.
regular her services across the
elegant Conte di Savoia is about to depart once more from
The SS Conte di Savoia had her share of
famous people sail on her from Statesmen, Movie stars and directors, be they
Italian or American and even the Pope’s emissary. However one of that
days greatly admired movie stars was Douglas Fairbanks Jnr who sailed to
Fairbanks Jnr over looks
Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, who would be the future Pope Pius XII, visited the
Cardinal is seen in
Bishop Stephen Donahue (standing right behind) and an unknown person of importance
Cardinal Pacelli departed
Pacelli met with Mayor Fiorello H. La
Guardia and former Governor Alfred E. Smith and countless others having visited
On November 6, SS Conte di Savoia was
berthed at Pier 59 and Cardinal Pacelli and his entourage boarded ready for
their voyage home. Pacelli arrived home and back in
A short introduction:
What made the SS Conte di Savoia so
interesting were her unique interior décor. There was no doubt that Lloyd
Sabaudo desired to introduce a classic style in a more glamorous way, in order
to contrast to the new fashion of the time. Many of new liners such as
As passengers would board it was this venue that would greet them, before they would be escorted to their accommodations
The finest suites aboard the Verandah Apartments
And this is just one of the superb cabins available on this luxury liner
The Grand Colonna Hall
Above & below: This is the grand Colonna Hall and it was the ships most striking
public venue. This superb Hall took its name and the spirit of its decorations
from the Gallery of the seventeenth-century
For passengers who discovered this grandiose
venue for the very first time, it just simply astounding and when they spent
time here in this Grand Hall, they somehow felt like they were in the heart of
Here is a smaller view of the “Colonna Hall”, but it provides a very different angle and it is a better image
is an “
However, this card does give us an idea of some of the colours of this grand Hall!
Entrance to one of the Lounges
A more relaxed Bamboo Bar
And the last major First Class venue is the elegant two deck high Dining Salon
Here we see the spacious ships chapel
Above & below: Two views of the wide and spacious glass enclosed Promenade Deck, which was common on
Trans-Atlantic Liners, whereas ships sailing to
Above & below: Two views of the ships sports decks, one a photo of her forward deck, the other an illustration of the aft deck
A souvenir plate purchased on the ship
An excellent stern view of the SS Conte di Savoia
we can see here the SS Conte di Savoia is berthed in
After this voyage she would have the Italian flag added to her livery!
But then came World War II and ships from
most Allied countries had long been called into action and had been converted
into troop or hospital ships. The Conte di Savoia was used for a very short
time to transport Eastern European, as well as Greek, English and Italian
emigrants to the
Please Note: When one of the Images opens, it will reduce, but just click on it and it will enlarge to its original large size!
Conte di Savoia is seen with the Italian flag on her side, which was there as
That was until mid 1940 when Mussolini joined Adolf Hitler and his murderous campaigns
She was sent to Malamocco near
Was this tree camouflage a joke, well it certainly did not save her in the end!
There were rumours around 1943 that she would be converted into an aircraft carrier, but that was never happened! Then, suddenly on September 11, 1943 a British aircraft spotted her and this beautiful, but now an enemy Italian liner was bombed and being without any means of defence, she caught fire and sank in the shallow lagoon waters.
In 1945, when the was finally over the new government decided to raise the badly damaged and burned out hull of the Conte di Savoia on October 16, in order to commence her rebuilding. There were considerations to use her on the South American migrant service operating as a One Class -l Third Class passenger ship. However, due to a severe shortage of funds, as well as other problems that arose at the time, sadly the project had to be shelved.
She was a burnt out wreck and had toppled on her side in the lagoon and was wrecked, she is seen here having been raised
But she remained a tragic sight to behold for what had been once a great Trans-Atlantic liner!
In due course, it was with sadness that this once great and proud Italian liner, SS Conte di Savoia was considered to be far too expensive and too difficult a task for the Italia Line to rebuild in any form and thus her hull was sold to be broken up by ship breakers at Monfalcone in 1950.
The SS Rex final says:
Although I am not covering the SS Rex at this time, but during the European spring of 1940, the same time as the Conte di Savoia, she was also laid up, but the Rex was moved to near Capodistria Bay south of Trieste where she remained for over four years. But then on September 8, 1944, the SS Rex was attacked by 12 Royal Air Force Beaufighters of the 272 Squadron and she was left listing badly as well as on-fire having been struck by some 59 rockets and many shells. Then a second attack came later that day by a further 12 RAF Beaufighters but this time they were from the 39 Squadron as well as the South African Air Force 16 Squadron and this resulted in the once great SS Rex listing badly to the point to her completely falling over on her side and sinking in the shallow water! Parts of the ship were salvaged by the Yugoslavians after the war, as this territory was now in their hands and certain parts are displayed in various places.
SS Rex is seen being attacked the first time by British RAF Beaufighters; please note the shots that hit the water
Memories of the Great and a Beautiful SS Conte di Savoia
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