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

MICHAEL L. GRACE is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. SNOOPY continues to be one of the most produced shows (amateur & stock) in America/Worldwide and has had long running productions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and in London's West End. There are over 100 individual productions every year. He has written movies for TV, including the award-winning thriller LADY KILLER, various pilots and developed screenplays for Kevin Costner and John Travolta. Besides co-writing and co-producing SNOOPY, he wrote and produced the one-man play KENNEDY. He produced P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD by pulitzer prize winning author James Kirkwood. He wrote the stage thriller FINAL CUT which had productions in the UK, South Africa and Australia. His one-man play, KENNEDY - THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH, was developed for HBO and has starred Andrew Stevens, Gregory Harrison and Joseph Bottoms. He has recently been involved in European productions with CLT-UFA, Europe's leading commercial television and radio broadcaster. He wrote MOWs THE DOLL COLLECTION, THE BOTTOM LINE and LAST WITNESS for German television. While in college and graduate school he worked as a foreign correspondent for COMBAT, the famous leftwing Paris daily, and as a travel writer. He visited more than 50 countries. He struggled as an actor, then joined the enemy and entered the training program at William Morris. He became a publicist and worked for Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager, at Paramount and MGM. He followed with a brief stint as a story executive, working in the frantic horror genre period of the early 80s and wrote THE UNSEEN. He went onto write for episodic television and develop series pilots. He was a continuing writer on such series such as LOVE BOAT, PAPER DOLLS, and KNOTS LANDING. He developed screenplays for such major award winning directors as Nicolas Meyers, Tony Richardson and J. Lee Thompson. He has written for all the major networks and studios. He has been hired numerous times as a script doctor, doing many uncredited rewrites on TV movies and features. He is currently writing A PERSON OF INTEREST, a thriller novel, and, IT'S THE LOVE BOAT... AND HOW IT CHANGED CRUISING BY SHIP a non-fiction book dealing with how the hit TV series as a major cultural phenomenon and altered the style of cruising by ship. He was raised in Los Angeles. He attended St. Paul's, USC and the Pasadena Playhouse. He received a B.A from San Francisco State University where he majored in theatre arts and minored in creative writing. He is listed as a SFSU leading alumni. He also apprenticed at ACT - The American Conservatory Theatre. For a brief period he had intentions of becoming an Episcopal(Anglican) priest and attended seminary at Kelham Theological College in the UK. When "the calling" wasn't there, he left seminary and did graduate work at the American University of Beirut. He has guest lectured at USC, UC San Diego, McGill, Univ. of London and the Univ. of Texas on the business aspects of making a living and surviving as a writer, focusing on development hell, in the Hollywood entertainment industry. Grace is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America, the Dramatist Guild and former regional chairman of the Steamship Historical Society of America. He resides in Palm Springs.

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