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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.
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 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.
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