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Amerigo Vespucci #5 World's Oldest Active Military Ship - Cruising Earth

Amerigo Vespucci Italian Navy

Amerigo Vespucci - Italian Navy
#5 World's Oldest Active Military Ship

Amerigo Vespucci is currently ranked #5 in the list of the World's Oldest Active Military Ships.

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    Italian Navy Logo
    Italian Navy
    Amerigo Vespucci
    Amerigo Vespucci

    In Service:
    (93 Years of Service)
    Ship Statistics
    In Service: May 26, 1931
    Weight: 3,410 Gross Tons
    Length: 329.80 Feet
    Beam: 51.00 Feet
    Speed: 15.0 knots / 17.3 mph
    Complement: 394
    Track Amerigo Vespucci

Amerigo Vespucci Historical Brief


The Italian Navy ship Amerigo Vespucci is one of the most iconic and recognized sailing ships in the world. Named after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci, this tall ship has served as a training vessel for the Italian Navy since its launch in 1931. With its elegant lines and traditional rigging, the Amerigo Vespucci embodies the rich maritime heritage of Italy and has become a symbol of naval excellence and tradition.

Construction and Early Years (1930-1940)

The Amerigo Vespucci was built at the Castellammare di Stabia shipyard near Naples, Italy. The ship's construction began in 1930 under the direction of Lieutenant Colonel Francesco Rotundi, who designed the vessel based on the plans of 18th-century ships of the line. The ship was launched on February 22, 1931, and commissioned into service on June 6, 1931.

The Amerigo Vespucci is a full-rigged ship with three masts, reaching a length of 101 meters, a beam of 15.5 meters, and a draft of 7.3 meters. Its displacement is around 4,100 tons, and it carries over 2,600 square meters of sail. The ship's hull is painted black with white stripes, a distinctive design that resembles the hull of the early frigates.

The primary purpose of the Amerigo Vespucci was to serve as a training vessel for naval cadets. The ship's design and construction aimed to provide cadets with a comprehensive education in seamanship, navigation, and naval traditions. The training program aboard the Amerigo Vespucci included hands-on experience in handling sails, steering, and maintaining the ship, as well as theoretical instruction in maritime subjects.

World War II and Post-War Period (1940-1960)

During World War II, the Amerigo Vespucci's role as a training ship was interrupted. The ship was stationed in various Italian ports and was used for limited naval operations and as a stationary training platform. Despite the challenges and dangers of the war, the Amerigo Vespucci survived the conflict with minimal damage.

After the war, the ship was overhauled and refitted to resume its training mission. The post-war period saw a renewed emphasis on rebuilding and modernizing the Italian Navy, and the Amerigo Vespucci played a crucial role in training a new generation of naval officers. The ship's voyages during this period included extensive training cruises in the Mediterranean and Atlantic, providing cadets with invaluable experience in seamanship and navigation.

Global Voyages and Diplomatic Missions (1960-2000)

In the 1960s, the Amerigo Vespucci began to participate in international training cruises and goodwill missions, cementing its reputation as a floating ambassador of Italy. The ship's voyages took it to ports around the world, including North and South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. These voyages were not only training exercises but also diplomatic missions aimed at strengthening Italy's ties with other nations.

One of the most notable voyages occurred in 1964 when the Amerigo Vespucci participated in Operation Sail, a gathering of the world's tall ships in New York Harbor to celebrate the World's Fair. The ship's elegant design and historical significance made it a highlight of the event, showcasing Italy's maritime heritage to a global audience.

Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, the Amerigo Vespucci continued to serve as a training vessel and participated in numerous international regattas and maritime festivals. The ship's presence at these events helped promote cultural exchange and foster goodwill between Italy and other seafaring nations. The Amerigo Vespucci's voyages also included scientific missions, contributing to oceanographic research and environmental studies.

Modern Era and Ongoing Legacy (2000-Present)

In the 21st century, the Amerigo Vespucci has continued to fulfill its dual role as a training vessel and a symbol of Italian maritime heritage. The ship undergoes regular maintenance and periodic refits to ensure its seaworthiness and to incorporate modern navigation and safety equipment while preserving its historical character.

The Amerigo Vespucci remains an essential training platform for the Italian Naval Academy. Cadets who train aboard the ship receive a rigorous education in traditional seamanship, as well as modern naval practices. The experience of sailing on a historical vessel instills a sense of pride, discipline, and respect for maritime traditions in the cadets.

The ship's participation in international events continues to promote Italy's maritime heritage. The Amerigo Vespucci regularly takes part in tall ship races, regattas, and maritime festivals, where it is often regarded as one of the most beautiful and well-preserved sailing ships in the world. The ship's visits to foreign ports are accompanied by cultural events and exhibitions that highlight Italian history and traditions.

In 2002, the Amerigo Vespucci embarked on a world tour, visiting ports in North and South America, Asia, and Australia. This voyage celebrated the ship's 70th anniversary and reinforced its role as a global ambassador of Italy. The tour included stops in major cities such as New York, Buenos Aires, Sydney, and Tokyo, where the ship was warmly received by local communities and maritime enthusiasts.

Training and Educational Role

Training aboard the Amerigo Vespucci is a rigorous and comprehensive program designed to prepare cadets for careers in the Italian Navy. The training curriculum includes traditional seamanship, navigation, meteorology, and leadership. Cadets learn to handle sails, steer the ship, and perform maintenance tasks, gaining practical experience that is invaluable for their future roles as naval officers.

The training program emphasizes the importance of teamwork, discipline, and resilience. Cadets are taught to work together in challenging conditions, fostering a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose. The lessons learned aboard the Amerigo Vespucci help develop the skills and character necessary for effective leadership in the Navy.

Cultural and Diplomatic Significance

Beyond its training mission, the Amerigo Vespucci plays a significant role in Italy's cultural diplomacy. The ship's visits to foreign ports are often accompanied by cultural events, exhibitions, and receptions that showcase Italian heritage and promote international understanding. These events highlight the ship's status as a floating embassy, representing Italy's maritime traditions and its commitment to fostering global connections.

The Amerigo Vespucci's participation in international events such as the Tall Ships' Races, Operation Sail, and other maritime festivals helps strengthen Italy's ties with other seafaring nations. The ship's presence at these events is a reminder of the shared maritime history and traditions that connect countries around the world.

Preservation and Future Prospects

As the Amerigo Vespucci approaches its centenary, efforts to preserve its historical integrity and operational capabilities continue. The ship undergoes regular maintenance and periodic refits to ensure it remains seaworthy and safe for training and diplomatic missions. These efforts are crucial in preserving the ship's legacy for future generations.

The future prospects for the Amerigo Vespucci are promising. The ship will continue to serve as a training platform for Italian naval cadets, providing them with the skills and experience necessary for their careers. Its role as a cultural and diplomatic ambassador will also endure, promoting Italy's maritime heritage and fostering international understanding.


The Amerigo Vespucci stands as a testament to Italy's rich maritime history and its commitment to training and excellence. Over its nine decades of service, the ship has trained countless naval cadets, participated in significant historical events, and promoted cultural exchange and diplomacy around the world. As it continues to sail the world's oceans, the Amerigo Vespucci remains a symbol of Italy's enduring maritime legacy and its dedication to the values of seamanship, leadership, and international friendship.

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