World’s ‘most beautiful ship’ docks at Dublin Port

The Amerigo Vespucci is the oldest ship in Italian navy and is used for training cadets

The Italian Naval Academy training ship Amerigo Vespucci is berthed in Dublin. Built in 1931 it is regarded as one of the most beautiful tall ships in the world and is home to over 400 cadets, sailors, NCOs and officers. Video: Bryan O'Brien

 

An Italian ship, once described by US sailors as the most beautiful in the world, has docked at Dublin Port.

The Amerigo Vespucci is a training vessel for Italian Navy cadets who sail for three months at the end of their first year at the Livorno Naval Academy. The period on the ship is intended to give the trainees the skills and world experience needed to become successful mariners.

They spend three or four days in each town or city in which they moor. While in Dublin, they plan on visiting Trinity College, the Guinness Storehouse and the Google building. The trainees sleep in hammocks while on board and there are four rooms below deck for the male cadets, and one for female cadets.

Federica Bellina (19), one of the 133 cadets on the ship, among 35 women, said she had wanted to join the navy since she was very young.

“We are able to open the sails and use the wind in order to navigate,” said Ms Bellina. “It’s a wonderful experience because we are on the masts and we can see the ocean, we can see the sea and we are an active part of the ship.”

They use “nautical observation” to determine the location of the ship relative to the stars and sun. They take care of the ships, train physically — often stopping to row in boats — and monitor the sea for targets or other ships.

Ms Bellina is training as a coast guard, which will see her study for five years in the academy.

Tradition

“We take care of her because it’s part of our story, it’s part of our tradition,” she said of the Amerigo Vespucci. “Most of the people who are in the Italian navy were here, so our commander went to this ship, the head of the Italian navy went to this ship, so every officer around us is an example for us because it was on this ship they were a child, a cadet.”

The tall ship was first launched in 1931 and is the oldest ship in the Italian navy. The control cabin in the ship still has its large wheel that would require eight crew members working in sync to turn. There’s now a much smaller, easier to use wheel in the same cabin.

In 1962, a US aircraft carrier signalled to the Amerigo Vespucci: “You are the most beautiful ship in the world” when they crossed paths at sea. The vessel last docked in Dublin in 2016.

Mohamed Battikh of the Tunisian navy, also travelling on the ship, said being on board was “like a baptism for sailors”. He added that it was the “oldest ship in the Italian navy so even the admiral did this campaign – the cleaning, everything the admiral did, the first-year cadets are doing now.”

Captain and commanding officer Stefano Constantino said, “It’s a great pleasure” to stay in Dublin. “We arrived this morning with the sun, we are very lucky. It’s a windy day as well which is good for us.”

Before Dublin, they docked in Lisbon. Next, they will continue on to Norway.

After their three months’ sailing, the crew will return to Livorno on September 21st.