Castellammare has a
long history as a shipyard. Neapolitans learned
shipbuilding from the Phoenicians and the Greeks, then
became the principal shipwrights for the Romans,
contributing to the Empire's domination of the
Mediterranean. Neapolitan shipwrights continued their
activity even during the Middle Ages, thanks to extensive
merchant and cultural trading between Europe and the
Middle East. The Normans,
Swabians, Angevins and Aragonese
carried on maritime commerce, and Naples was of primary
importance in the southern Tyrrhenian sea. In 1571,
Neapolitan yards contributed greatly to the successful
outcome of the Battle of Lepanto
by furnishing a number of ships in the victorious fleet.
launched in 1850 at Castellammare.
(see link - great story!)
In 1734 with the
ascension of the Bourbons to
the throne, Neapolitan shipwrights began building naval
ships for the protection of the newly independent kingdom.
In 1739 the first completely Bourbon frigate was launched,
the S. Carlo e Partenope. In the same year in
Naples, the Accademia di Marina was opened; it was
the first academy in Italy for the training of naval
officers. In 1780 Ferdinand IV established a Ministry of
the Royal Navy and opened a shipyard at Castellammare di
Stabia to build ships for the fleets of the kingdom.
Ferdinand chose Castellammare as the site of the royal
shipyards because of the inhabitants' reputation as master
craftsmen. The kingdom, itself, was unstable at times, but
the Bourbons, nevertheless, developed the facility at
Castellammare into one of the most impressive in the
The cruiser Dante
launched in 1910 at Castellammare.
In 1818 at Vigliena, the first steamship in Italy was launched, the Ferdinand I. By the time of Italian unification (1861), the yards at Castellammare had built fifty ships of medium tonnage for the navy, as well as countless smaller merchant vessels. On January 18, 1859, Francesco II witnessed the launching of what turned out to be the last ship built for the navy of Naples, the frigate Borbone.
The last years of the
kingdom of Naples saw a general restructuring of port
facilities. In addition to the shipyards, the Kingdom of
Naples had other considerable industrial and manufacturing
activity, particularly in metallurgy, an industry which
drew widebased financial support from English, French and
Naval training ship,
the Amerigo Vespucci
in the bay of Naples
With the unification of Italy came a reevaluation of the shipyards of the ex-Kingdom of Naples. The question of Castellammare was, of course, but one part of the much larger question of just how much industry should be assigned to the southern half of a unified nation.
Castellammare has had to contend with numerous proposals
to close the shipyards altogether. Also, it has had to
battle competition from other shipyards throughout Italy.
Nevertheless, between 1861 and 1918 the yards launched 83
naval vessels such as the one shown (above, left), many of
which proved to be among the finest in the nation's
fleets. From 1918 to the early 1980s, 170 more ships were
built at Castellammare, some of more than 50,000 tons
capacity. Two ships, well-known to all, have come from the
Castellammare yards: the naval training sailing ship, Amerigo
Vespucci (1931) (image, above) (as well as her
sister-ship, the Cristoforo Colombo
-1928), and the bathyscaph Triest (1953) which
took Auguste Piccard down to 3,150 meters in the waters
off of the island of Ponza.