Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
SS Cristoforo Colombo
The origins of the Cristoforo Colombo lie in the situation the Italian Line was in at the end of World War II. The war had been devastating to them and two of their flagships - the Rex and Conte di Savoia - had been destroyed. The Italian Line at this point decided not to build large ships, but moderately sized ships that were very luxurious, comfortable and stylish.
The Cristoforo Colombo was built in Genora at the Ansaldo Shipyards. The Andrea Doria was already built by the time Cristoforo Colombo was completed. She was launched in 1953 to be ready for a 1954 maiden voyage. When launched, she was larger than the Andrea Doria which made her the largest merchant ship in Italian service.
In 1956 the Andrea Doria was sunk after a collision with the Stockholm . This left the Cristoforo Colombo on her own until 1960 when the replacement, Leonardo da Vinci . In 1964 the Cristoforo Colombo was given a most honorable task. In the spring of 1964, the Pietà from the Vatican was carried on board her to New York for the World’s Fair. Pietà was put in a crate that was filled with plastic foam. The crate was lowered onto a rubber base in the first class pool where least damage was likely to happen to it. Special safety precautions were made when the actual loading occurred as well. The Cristoforo Colombo had been put in dry dock so that she would not move an inch and thereby perhaps jeopardise the crate and its content. Only easily removable snap hooks secured the crate so that it could be released easily in case of accident. In case the Cristoforo Colombo would sink during the voyage, the crate had been floatable. When at New York it was lifted by a heavy-lift floating crane onto a barge that was put alongside the liner.
The Cristoforo Colombo and the Leonardo da Vinci were kept as the flagships and the prime Italian ships on the North Atlantic until 1965 when the brand new Michelangelo arrived. Shortly after, her sister Raffaello followed, and the Cristoforo Colombo was taken out of trans-Atlantic service. Instead she replaced the two smaller Saturnia and Vulcania on the Adriatic trade. She was painted entirely white in 1966 in order to match with the other ships in the Italian Line who had abandoned black as hull-colour.
In 1973, the Cristoforo Colombo was taken out of the Adriatic service. She was supposed to go on the South American run to replace the Giulio Cesare that had suffered some serious mechanical problems. She stayed here until 1977 when it was realised that it was utter futility to keep the Cristoforo Colombo running. Ships like her had become very uneconomical to run. She was sold to the country of Venezuela, but they had no intention to keep her going, but used her as an accommodation ship for workers at Puerto Ordaz. In 1981 she was sold to Taiwanese scrappers. They towed her across the Pacific, but upon arrival at Kaohsiung they towed her to Hong Kong, hoping someone there would express interest in buying the ship. However, no one appeared and in the autumn of 1982 she was towed back to Kaohsiung where she was scrapped.
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