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The Fleets

Sicula Oceanica S.p.A. / Grimaldi SIOSA Line

The Grimaldi brothers (Fratelli Grimaldi) were nephews of Achille Lauro, the famous Naples shipowner (their mother was Achille's sister). They built up a fleet of cargo ships before World War II. Like Achille Lauro himself, they decided there was a post-war market for cheap emigrant and refugee ships, and acquired a number of elderly vessels, which received little upgrading. The New Zealand steamer Ruahine was purchased in January 1949 and after a refit placed in service between Italy and Central America as AURIGA. The AURIGA was followed by the CENTAURO (ex- City of Hong Kong) and LUCANIA (ex- Prince Robert).

The emigrant market eventually became more discerning as competition increased, and the first comfortable Grimaldi ships were the ASCANIA and IRPINIA (ex- SGTM ships Florida and Campana), acquired in 1955. Initial services were from Italy to Central America, but North Atlantic services were also operated later.
In 1956 they acquired the VENEZUELA, which had previously been the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique De Grasse, and later the Canadian Pacific Empress of Australia. Following rebuilding for their Italy-West Indies-Venezuela service, her passenger capacity increased from 664 to nearly 1500 passengers. The VENEZUELA was lost in 1962, off Cannes. She was replaced in 1965 by the CARIBIA, originally the Cosulich, later Italia Line Vulcania. She hit a rock in 1972, again off Cannes and was damaged and laid up at La Spezia.

Subsequently, Grimaldi operated the AUSONIA on cruises from 1983-96, and carried up to 55 passengers on various freighters around the world.
One of the brothers then started Grandi Navi Veloci, which operate large cruise ferries in the Mediterranean.

Many thanks to Henk Jungerius and Ted Finch for their assistance in collecting this data. The following list was extracted from various sources. This is not an all inclusive list but should only be used as a guide. If you would like to know more about a vessel, visit the Ship Descriptions (onsite) or Immigrant Ship web site.

  • Routes:
    • Southampton-Spain-Portugal-Madeira-West Indies
    • Genoa-Cannes-Barcelona-Teneriffe-West Indies
    • Genoa-Naples-Palermo-Gibraltar-Azores-Montreal-Quebec

Funnels & Flag:

Fleet: Passenger ships only

Funnel Funnel Flag
Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
Ascania 1926 built by Ateliers & Chantierd de Loire, St. Nazaire | ex- Florida, 1942 bombed and sunk by German air attack at Bougie, 1944 salvaged and repaired, 1955 purchased from Société Générale de Transport Maritimes (SGTM) refitted one funnel renamed Ascania, 1967 laid up, 1968 scrapped at La Spezia. 9,330
Auriga 1909 built by W. Denny & Bros., Dumbarton | ex- Ruahine, 1949 purchased from New Zealand Shipping Co. renamed Auriga, 1957 scrapped at Savona. 10,832
Ausonia 1957 built by Cantieri Riuniti dell’ Adriatico, Monfalcone | ex- Ausonia built for Adriatica SpA di Navagazione, 1978 converted into a cruise ship managed by Italia Crociere, 1983 sold to Ausonia Crociere, Naples, (part of Grimaldi SIOSA group) 1998 sold to Louis Cruise Lines, Limassol, 2004 renamed Ithaca, 2006 renamed Ivory, 2006 sold to Golden Star Cruises renamed Aegean II. 11,879
Caribia 1929 built by Cantieri Riuniti dell’ Adriatico, Monfalcone | ex- Vulcania built for Cosulich, 1937 transferred to Italia, 1965 purchased from Italia Soc. Per Azione di Nav. renamed Caribia, 23rd September 1972 hit underwater rock and laid up, 1974 scrapped at Kaohsiung. 24,469
Centauro 1924 built by Earle's Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Ltd., Hull | ex- City of Hongkong, 1939-45 troopship, 1951 purchased from Ellerman’s City Line renamed Centauro, 14th January 1955 went aground in storm at St George's, Bermuda and scrapped at Savona. 9,606
Irpina 1929 built by Swan Hunter & W. Richardson Ltd., Wallsend on Tyne | ex- Campana, 1940 laid up at Buenos Aires, 1943 seized from Vichy France by Argentina at Buenos Aires renamed, renamed Rio Jachal, 1946 returned to owners, renamed Campana, 1955 purchased from Société Générale de Transport Maritimes (SGTM) and refitted renamed Irpinia, 1962 refitted one funnel, 1983 scrapped at La Spezia. 10,816
Lucania 1931 built by Cammell Laird & Co., Birkenhead | ex- Prince Robert, ferry built for Canadian National Steamships Co., ex- Charlton Sovereign 1946, 1951 purchased from Charlton Steam Shipping Co. (Chandris) renamed Lucania, 1962 scrapped. 6,723
Urania II 1926 built by Barclay Curle & Co Ltd, Glasgow | ex- Castalia built for Anchor Line, 1949 sold to Grimaldi Brothers renamed Marengo, 1950 transferred to Sicula Oceanica renamed Urania II, 1954 scrapped at Osaka. 6,388
Venezuela 1924 built by Cammell Laird & Co., Birkenhead | ex- De Grasse, (laid down as Suffren) for Compagnie Générale Transatlantique (French Line), 1953 sold to Canadian Pacific, renamed Empress of Australia, 1956 purchased renamed Venezuela, 17th March 1962 grounded at Cannes and scrapped at La Spezia. 12,279

Sources include: Die Grossen Passagierschiffe der Welt ( eleven volumes), A. Kludas, Stalling / Koehler, 1972-2006. ; North Atlantic Seaway, N. R. P. Bonsor (5 volumes).

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