Rex (ship, 1932)

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Two B-17s pass the Rex
Two B-17s pass the Rex
Ship data
flag ItalyKingdom of Italy (trade flag) Italy
Ship type Passenger ship / cargo ship
home port Genoa
Shipyard Cantieri navali Ansaldo di Sestri Ponente, Genoa
Keel laying August 1, 1931
Launch September 1932
Whereabouts Sunk in 1944
Scrapped 1947–1958
Ship dimensions and crew
268.2 m ( Lüa )
width 29.6 m
Draft Max. 10.1 m
measurement 51,061  GRT
crew 870
Machine system
machine 4 steam turbines with simple reduction gear
136,000 PS (100,028 kW)
27 kn (50 km / h)
Transport capacities
Permitted number of passengers 378 First Class
378 Special Class
866 Third Class
410 Tourist Class

The Rex was the largest ever in Italy built passenger ship . It served as a political symbol of Italian fascism and underlined the aspiration of emerging Italy to survive in military and civil competition on the oceans.


The ship was built in Genoa at the shipyard Cantiere Navale di Sestri Ponente (today Fincantieri ) on behalf of the shipping company Italia - Società di Navigazione . The keel was laid on August 1, 1931. In September 1932, the ship of King Viktor Emanuel III. and Queen Elena the name Rex baptized. Originally the name Guglielmo Marconi was intended for the ship.

Technology and equipment

In the style of the Italian navy of the thirties, the Rex was provided with characteristic, low superstructures and fifteen-meter-high funnels with red and green stripes, slightly sloping backwards. They were arranged very far forward in comparison to the center of the ship. The aim was to create space for leisure activities on the upper deck. The straight bow was inclined slightly forward. The machine system consisted of four turbines, each five meters in diameter, and the associated reduction gears. They initially had an output of 120,000 hp, which was 4000 hp more than planned at the time of launch. The horsepower was later increased to 136,000 through fine-tuning and power optimization.

Usage and records

On September 22, 1932, the Rex was assigned to the United Italian Fleet ( Italia Flotte Riunite ), which had emerged from mergers of the companies Navigazione Generale Italiana , Lloyd Sabaudo and Cosulich . The construction of the Rex was commissioned by the Navigazione Generale Italiana company.

The maiden voyage from Genoa took place on September 27, 1932 with 1,872 passengers on board. After problems occurred in the engine room on the way to Gibraltar , a stay in the port of this British crown colony took place before the voyage could continue after some necessary repairs. Some passengers left the ship and refused to continue their journey, which they then continued by train to Germany. From there they took the ship Europa across the Atlantic. However, when they arrived in New York, they found the Rex already anchored in port .

In August 1933, the Rex captured the Blue Ribbon under captain Francesco Tarabotto . She reached an average speed of 28.92 knots and exceeded the previous record holder, the German Bremen . The Rex kept the Blue Ribbon until June 3, 1935, when it was taken over by French Normandy .

In 1937 the Italia Fleet Riunite was dissolved and incorporated into the Italia Società di Navigazione . In this company all ships of the line of the America service were brought together. When Italy entered the war in 1940, the liner service to North America was discontinued. The ship returned from its last civilian voyage across the Atlantic in the spring of 1940 and then lay well camouflaged out of service in the port of Trieste.

In the further course of the Second World War, the ship was confiscated by the Navy on September 8, 1943 and formally handed over to the Mediterranean shipping company (based in Hamburg) in March 1944 . Plans to convert it into an aircraft carrier were not implemented. Instead, the Rex was used as a hospital ship to bring the wounded back to Italy from the theaters of war in North Africa.

The end of the ship

Two days after the attack

On September 8, 1944, the Rex was anchored near Trieste (between Isola d'Istria and Capodistria , in present-day Slovenia ) when she was discovered by scouts of the Royal Air Force and set on fire in 123 waves of attack from the air. The ship burned four days before it sank.

After the war there were several ideas and projects to restore the ship, but all of them were considered uneconomical. Therefore, the remains of the ship were scrapped and scrapped between 1947 and 1958.


In Amarcord by Federico Fellini , a famous film scene with the Rex (or a recreated backdrop) took place.


  • Ricardo Magrini: Ships: passenger and merchant ships. (Title of the Italian original: Navi e Velleri ) Kaiser, Klagenfurt 2005, ISBN 978-3-7043-1422-2

Web links

Commons : Rex  - collection of images, videos and audio files