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The Fleets

Società Rocco Piaggio and Figli, Genoa 1870-1885

Last of the wooden screw clippers built in Italy for service to South America was the ESTER (1) of the Societa Rocco Piaggio & Figli of Genoa. She had a tonnage of 807 and was built in 1870 by Agostino Briasco of Sestri Ponente and fitted with a 70 horse-power engine capable of propelling her at a speed of five or six knots.
In 1874 the 1,390 ton iron screw steamer BEETHOVEN, launched at Sunderland in May 1870 by W. Watson and was purchased and placed in service by Rocco Piaggio as the COLUMBIA in 1874. Westermann of Sestri Ponente built the1,500 ton ESTER (2), also of iron screw construction. The ESTER (1) was renamed PAMPA.
The PAMPA was destroyed by fire at Santos in 1880 when on voyage from South America to Italy.

The COLUMBIA and ESTER (2) provided a service about every three months from Genoa via the Canaries to Montevideo and Buenos Aires, outward voyages occupying up to 40 days, and homeward ones slightly longer as they were usually made via Santos and Rio de Janeiro. By this time G. B. Lavarello & Co. were running four iron screw steamers, the largest of them having a tonnage of 2,246, while in 1870 the Societa Italo Platense commissioned two of their three 1,700 ton ships, all of which were put up for auction in 1876. Rocco Piaggio managed to buy the ITALO PLATENSE, which was renamed L’ITALIA, having a year previously bought the 1,358 ton MARINA, completed in 1870 for the Donaldson Line and renamed her MARIA.

The L’ITALIA was placed in service to South America in 1876, and was joined on 10 December 1878 by the 2,822 ton UMBERTO I, built by A. McMillan & Son of Dumbarton and could accommodate 98 first class, 80 second and 800 steerage passengers. She was able to steam from Genoa to Montevideo in approximately 22 days. Rocco Piaggio went again for a new ship to McMillan and the 3,577 ton REGINA MARGHERITA, was launched in July 1884 and started her maiden voyage from Genoa on 1 December for Barcelona, St. Vincent, Montevideo, where she arrived on 17 December, and Buenos Aires. Her passenger accommodation consisted of 250 first and second class berths and 1,200 steerage.

In July 1883 an agreement was reached between the Societa Rocca Piaggio & Figli and the Societa Italiano di Trasporti Marittimi Raggio & Co. for a joint fast line from Naples and Genoa to the Rive Plate, sailings to be fortnightly. Rocco Piaggio supplied the UMBERTO I and L’ITALIA, while Raggio supplied the 4,150 ton SIRIO, whose maiden voyage started simultaneously with the start of the agreement. Two sister ships of the latter, the ORIONE and PERSEO, followed early in 1884 and finally the Rocco Piaggio’s REGINA MARGHERITA.

The L’ITALIA foundered on 19 June 1885 after striking an uncharted rock off Mollendo on the homeward stage of her first voyage. She sank almost immediately with a death toll of 57.
The 1,105 ton CARMELA, built in 1880 as the COREBO TREZO, was acquired in 1883, but taken over by a Genoese bank a year later, and the 1,942 ton AMEDEO (ex- LASCELLES built in 1878) was also acquired that year, the 2,655 ton ADRIA (ex- ETNA built for Cunard in 1854) was acquired in 1884.

The Navigazione Generale Italiana began a South American service in November 1884 and took Riaggio & Co. over in January 1885 and Rocco Piaggio & Figli in July of the same year.

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.

Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
Adria 1854 built by Caird & Co., Greenock | ex- Etna built for Cunard, 1860 sold Inman Line not renamed, 1871 rebuilt 2,655 grt renamed City of Bristol, 1881 sold to Marques de Campo, Spain renamed Mexico, 1882 sold to Italy renamed Messico, 1883 sold to Raffaele Rubattino renamed Sempione, 1884 purchased renamed Adria, 1885 sold to Navigazione Generale Italiana (NGI), 1896 scrapped. 2,665
Amedeo 1878 built by Barrow Shipbuilding Co., Barrow | Launched as Lascelles for F.C. Cavendish completed for Wm. Johnston, 1883 purchased renamed Amedeo, 1885 sold to Navigazione Generale Italiana (NGI), renamed Plata, 1910 transferred to Societa Nationale del Servizi Marittimi, 1913 sold to Marittima Italiana same name, 1916 sunk by German submarine U-39 off Alexandria. 1,942
Carmela 1880 built by A. McMillan & Son, Dumbarton | ex- Carebo Terzo, 1883 purchased renamed Carmela, 1885 sold to Navigazione Generale Italiana (NGI) renamed Parana, 1902 scrapped. 1,105
Columbia 1870 built by W. Watson, Sunderland | ex- Beethoven, 1874 purchased renamed Columbia, 5 July 1880 sunk in collision near Bahia. 1,390
Ester (1) 1870 built by Agostino Briasco, Sestri Ponente | 1874 renamed Pampa, 1880 destroyed by fire at Santos. 807
Ester (2) 1874 built by Westermann, Sestri Ponente | 1882 deleted from Register. 1,500
L’Italia 1869 built by J. & W. Dudgeon, London | ex- Italo Platense built for Societa Italo Platense, 1876 purchased renamed L’Italia, 19 June 1885 foundered off Molendo with the loss of 57 lives. 1,695
Maria 1870 built by Barclay, Curle & Co., Glasgow | ex- Marina built for Donaldson Line, 1873 sold to Brazil SS Co. not renamed, 1877 sold to R. Alexander, Liverpool same name, 1875 purchased renamed Maria, 1885 sold to Navigazione Generale Italiana (NGI) renamed Paraguay, 1910 transferred to Societa Nationale del Servizi Marittimi, 1921 sold to G. Randazzo, Palermo renamed Terrero, 1928 sold same name, 1929 scrapped. 1,358
Pampa   see Ester (1)  
Regina Margherita 1884 built by A. McMillan & Son, Dumbarton | 1885 sold to Navigazione Generale Italiana (NGI), 1910 transferred to Societa Nationale del Servizi Marittim, 1913 capsized and sank at Genoa. 3,796
Umberto I 1878 built by A. McMillan & Son, Dumbarton | 1885 sold to Navigazione Generale Italiana (NGI), 1910 transferred to Societa Nationale del Servizi Marittimi, 1911 sold same name, 1917 torpedoed and sunk by German submarine UC-35 off Gallinara Island. 2,746

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