The adventures of the unrestricted master mariner, Francesco Gerolamo Ansaldo: travelling the seas between the 19th and 20th centuries

19th and 20th centuries From the archives of Fondazione Ansaldo the voyages and adventures of Captain Francesco Gerolamo Ansaldo

The unrestricted master mariner, Francesco Gerolamo Ansaldo (Genoa 1857-1926), son of the engineer, Giovanni Ansaldo, one of the founders of Ansaldo, is the star of the first article for our new feature, “Genova and the Shipbuilding Industry”, created with the contribution of Amer Yachts. Notwithstanding his family connections, Francesco Gerolamo never worked in his father’s company, choosing a naval career.

Embarking as a cabin boy at the age of 14, he sailed for eight years on sail boats and, after cutting his teeth on board a number of brigantines he was promoted to scribe in 1880. Francesco had a brilliant career: he worked mostly for the Marina Mercantile and first became Captain of Cabotage in March 1881 and the Unrestricted Master Mariner at the young age of 24 (December 1881). His first command was given to him by Casa Raggio captaining the steamship, Stura. Having moved on to Navigazione Generale Italiana he was sent to the Far East to study its market, revealing himself to be a great observer.

Captain’s licence for Cabotage belonging to Francesco Gerolamo Ansaldo

He was the captain of the steamships Giava, LiguriaBormida and Re Vittorio and was then sent to England to collect (still for Navigazione Generala Italiana) the British Prince,  British Princess and British Empire which then became the Lazio, Sannio and Campania.

Francesco Gerolamo Ansaldo was an expert in the New York route and in 1909 he was given command of the Duca degli Abruzzi, which he kept for a year. Throughout his career he also piloted ships built by his father’s company, but he never worked directly with the management of Ansaldo.

Francesco Gerolamo retired in 1922, but never abandoned his adventurous spirit and continued to travel as inspector, like in the case of the steamship,  Colombi launched in 1915 and built by the English shipyard, Palmers Co., Ltd. from Jarrow-on-Tyne.


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