Italy Merchant Navy
As of June 30, 1937, the Italian navy consisted of 1270 ships per ton. gross 3,212,634; in this complex the motor ships rise to 287 per ton. gross 652,630 (Lloyd ‘ s Register, 1937-1938). The consistency of the Italian mechanically propelled ship rose from 3,093 million tons. in 1933 to 2.875 in 1934, to 2.838 in 1935, to 3.057 in 1936, to 3.174 in 1937. Despite the same demolitions of 1932-35, imposed by the world crisis, the Italian tonnage increased slightly, both in absolute terms and in relative to the world: 4.82% in 1933, 4.65 in 1934, 4.63 and in 1935, 4.97 in 1936, 5.05 in 1937. This was mainly due to passenger or mixed ships, purchased second-hand for shipping to Ethiopia, while the shipyards were busy with the work of the navy, and it would not have been possible to build new ships in the necessary time. Therefore the average age of the ships has been increasing: ships under the age of 5 made up 9, 8% of the tonnage in 1933, 5.8 in 1936, and only 1.4% in 1937. The renewal of the ship is essential, and in fact adequate measures have been taken (April 1938). However qualitatively the Italian merchant navy still occupies a good place among the world navies, since, according to the latest statistics of the Lloyd’s Register, it includes 1.818 million tons. of ocean-going vessels of at least 4000 tons. and under the age of 25, coming after Great Britain (10.781 million tons), the United States (5.043), Germany (2.283), and Japan (2.273).
The activity of the merchant navy was remarkable during the Italo-Ethiopian conflict, to whose favorable solution it contributed with a grandiose effort that can only be appreciated if it is reflected that Massawa is 2500 miles from the metropolis and Mogadishu at 3900. Complete figures are missing. to document this effort; it can also be observed that the transits of the Italian flag through the Suez Canal have risen to tonnes. 6,077,000 in 1935, with an increase of 3,988,000 tons. on 1934; a ton 6,545,000 in 1936. The share of Italian shipping in the complex of transits via Suez went from 6.6% in 1934 to 18% in 1935, to 20.2% in 1936; it took second place in the canal, coming immediately after the British one.
Most of the ships used were chartered by the state administrations concerned, through a central chartering commission; some large transatlantic liners were also destined for the transport of troops and workers. The chartered ships included eight merchant units, transformed into hospital ships, for a total of 74,000 tons, capable of 6,000 beds.
Dating from 1 January 1937 (on the basis of decrees of 12 December 1936, nos. 2081 and 2082), a new adjustment of the line navy has taken place, which represents the conclusion of that concentration program that began in 1926 had a further phase with the mergers of 1932. In fact, four large companies were set up which took over the services already managed by the companies: Italia, Cosulich, Lloyd Triestino, Tirrenia, Adriatica, Navigazione Libera Triestina, Veneziana, Adria, Sarda; which then ceased, with December 31, 1936, the exercise of navigation, giving the new companies the ships, at prices already agreed.
The four new companies are: a) Italy, with headquarters in Genoa, share capital 500 million, for the operation of the lines with the Americas; b) Lloyd Triestino, based in Trieste, share capital 300 million, for the operation of the lines with Africa beyond Suez and Gibraltar, with Asia beyond Suez and with Australia; c) Tirrenia, based in Naples, share capital 150 million, for the operation of the Tyrrhenian lines with Libya, the Italic and western Mediterranean circumnavigation, Northern Europe; d) Adriatica, based in Venice, share capital 150 million, Adriatic and Eastern Mediterranean lines (Levante).
The Fiumana (based in Rijeka) was then also established for the Carnaro and Zara services. Basically, with the new system, a traffic sector was exclusively assigned to each of the 4 companies, without the risk of mutual interference. To meet the financial needs, a new maritime finance company (Finmare) with a capital of up to 900 million, with the aim of acquiring shareholdings in the companies performing the services, taking care of their technical coordination, providing financial assistance. The Industrial Reconstruction Institute (IRI) will retain the majority shareholding of these companies for six years (from January 1, 1937). The four companies continue to be assisted by the tax authorities; they have just devised a program for the renewal of the material which will soon enter the executive phase; it includes the construction of 44 ships for 250 thousand tons. (9 for the Italia company, 86 thousand tons.; 13 for the Lloyd Triestino, 82 thousand tons; 17 for the Tirrenia, 43 thousand tons; 5 for the Adriatic, 39 thousand tons.; to add the major transformations of transatlantic Rome and Augustus). Total expenditure 1 billion and a half.
But it is also necessary to renew the cargo ships to rejuvenate it and to be able to better respond to the mission of the merchant navy in the fight for autarchy: it is considered necessary, initially, to increase it by about 2 million tons. For this purpose with r. decr-law dated 10 March 1938, n. 330, the legislation on merchant shipbuilding and armament was completely renewed, transforming the construction premium into the concession of the import duty free of the necessary foreign materials, or in a fee (equal to half of the customs) for the national materials used, and in the concession to shipowners who will have their ships built in Italy of substantial financial facilities, consisting of an amortization contribution (established on the basis of the technical characteristics of the ships, speed and consumption) and in a contribution of interest. The decree confirms the temporary exemption from taxes (movable wealth, register) and provides for credit facilities for the discount of a part of state contributions. The budget provided for by the decree is 100 million lire per year for ten years, and it is assumed that on the basis of it the national cargo ship can be renewed at the rate of 200,000 tons. of capacity per year. and it is assumed that on the basis of it the national cargo ship can be renewed at the rate of 200,000 tons. of capacity per year. and it is assumed that on the basis of it the national cargo ship can be renewed at the rate of 200,000 tons. of capacity per year.
As for the national shipyards, the r. decree-law April 15, 1937, n. 451, has ensured “a controlled organization of the shipbuilding industry adequate to the pre-eminent needs of national defense and responsive to social interests”.
The shipyards also worked on behalf of the foreign shipments, even partially accepting the payment on the basis of barter; among the most important merchant orders we mention the transatlantic liners Pitsudski and Báthory, built on behalf of Poland; the motor vessel Vega and two other motor vessels on behalf of Norway; a Swedish transatlantic of 23 thousand tons. on behalf of Sweden, etc.
Social progress has been tremendous; the seafarers have seen numerous measures implemented in their favor; innovative provisions are underway for everything concerning hygiene, habitability and the comfort of the crews of all ships, including cargo ships.