SS CONTE BIANCAMANO – Italian Line History



The SS Conte Biancamano (Italian for “White Hand”) was a Lloyd Sabaudo Line ocean liner built in 1925 by William Beardmore and Company in Glasgow, Scotland, to service the transatlantic passenger line between Genoa and Naples, Italy, and New York City.

Her maiden voyage was a destined for the United States.

After being acquired by the Italian Line in 1932, she was transferred to the South America service. In 1934, she served as a troopship for the Italian Navy in over ten voyages to East Africa. She later entered into the Far East service of Lloyd Triestino (also chartered by Italian Line), in 1936.

1926: Mr. and Mrs. Robert Goelet, two of America’s real leaders of real society sailing for Europe on the S.S. Conte Biancamano.

During World War II, in 1941, she was captured by the United States in Cristóbal and was used as an American troopship — renamed USS|Hermitage|AP-54 — capable of holding up to 7000 people and transporting them to both the Atlantic and Pacific fronts. After the war, in 1947, she was returned to the Italian Line and returned to the name of Conte Biancamano.

She became the first passenger ship to be refurbished in post-war Italy, setting the guidelines for future refurbishments of other ships, which would then form Italy’s renovated merchant fleet. After renovation, she was reintroduced into service along the North and South American routes. In 1961, she began a three-year process of being stripped and reassembled for the Milan National Museum of Science and Technology’s Air and Sea Transport Building, which was under construction at the time.

CLICK ON THIS YOU TUBE VIDEO: We see two bon voyage parties aboard the ITALIAN LINE’S SS CONTE BIANCAMANO. IN 1920 and 1950. Could it be the same people? You decide!

1926 – Italy’s largest delegation of World War veterans of Italian birth who fought in the U.S. Army to return under new immigration bureau provisions brought about by Hearst Papers. They arrived on the S.S. Conte Biancamano in Tourist Class.

CRUISE HISTORY: Launched in April 23, 1925, the SS Conte Biancamano made her maiden voyage in November from Genoa to New York. She was intended primarily to customers of luxury. In 1934, she was used for military purposes, carrying troops in preparation for the war in Ethiopia. In 1936, she returned to passenger service.

First Class aboard the elegant ship poolside.

At the start of the Second World War, she was seized and converted into a troop transport and commissioned into the United States Navy as USS Hermitage (AP-54) in 1942. During her service with the U.S. Navy, she traveled over 230,000 miles and carried 129,695 soldiers from different nations.

The First Class Main Lounge.

In 1947, the ship was returned to Italy and underwent a refit and was modernized at a shipyard in Monfalcone. Structural changes saw her bow replaced with a sleeker design, as well as an increase in length overall. Interior changes included more passenger accommodations, increasing her capacity to 252 in First Class, 455 in Cabin Class, and 893 Tourist Class.

First Class Passengers.

In Genoa, the ship’s final voyage.



The refit also saw her name Conte Biancamano restored. She became the premiere ocean liner of the renewed Italian merchant fleet. Her interior renovations were a collaboration of painters such as Massimo Campigli, Mario Sironi, and Roberto Crippa, as well as decorative design work by Gustavo Pulitzer and Giò Ponti. Art work including sculptures by Marcello Mascherini were placed on the ceiling of the grand hall depicting the myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece.


On 14 July 1949, Conte Biancamano was placed on the Genoa – Buenos Aires route until 1950 when she was moved to the Genoa – Naples – Cannes – New York route.

On 26 March 1960, she began her last voyage from Italy to New York

After 364 crossings, during which she had carried 353,836 passengers, she was scrapped.





About Michael L. Grace

During the mid-80s, Michael Grace worked as a writer on the TV Hit Series THE LOVE BOAT. He wrote many of the two hour special featuring great stars of the past, including Lana Turner, Claire Trevor, Anne Baxter, Ethel Merman, Alexis Smith, etc. The public’s access to these stars, in familiar dramas and comedies, made them want to go on a cruise. They could see the stars in an ordinary world as “regular” people. The phenomenally successful series was responsible for creating the cruise industry as we know it today. By the time he was writing for Love Boat, the great steamship companies and their liners were flying hand me down foreign flags, painted like old whores, scrapped or doing three day cruises to the Bahamas. He had sailed on over thirty ships and liners with his parents, aunt and grandmother in late 50s to early 70s. The very successful CRUISING THE PAST website has been an outgrowth of Michael’s strong interest in cruise and social history. Drawing on his own knowledge and a vast maritime and social history collection, he is able to produce a very successful website. Michael is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. He has written for television and films. Read more by going to "About" (on the above dashboard) and clicking "Editor"…

Leave a Reply