by Andrea Munari
MONACO. “Everywhere we are docking her, people convey that she is the most beautiful ship in the world.” says of the glorious vessel Amerigo Vespucci the Director of the Italian Navy’s Hydrographic Institute the Rear Admiral Massimiliano Nannini. That is absolutely true. The flagship of the Italian excellence excites and fascinates every time. The imposing training ship sails the seas of the world teaching crafts, discipline, rigor and promoting her values. Moreover, today the Italian Navy looks ahead in a concrete way by expanding its field of action. In fact, thanks to her experience, tradition, and history, since last June 20 when she docked in the Monaco’s port, the Amerigo Vespucci is also a symbol of the commitment to the protection and preservation of the sea. June 22 in the Principality of Monaco was an important date for the the vessel, for her crew and for all the attending personalities. The occasion was the presentation of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. The project’s ambitious goal wants to overcome this phase of emergency towards the new decade 2020 2030 proclaimed by UNESCO to protect the seas. Hereby Commander Gianfranco Bacchi welcome on board: “It is an honour and a pleasure to be here in Monaco. There is a lot of work to be done. 2020 was a difficult year, we have carried out some missions, and we are UNICEF’s ambassadors. Today we have finally raised the sails and we do it in a sustainable way, we are an ecological ship, we are able to work 70% out of sails and wind”.
On board, the atmosphere was evocative and everyone’s emotion at the flag’s raising during the ceremony for the delivery of the banner, symbol of the U.N Decade of Ocean Science, was exciting. The Ambassador of Italy to Monaco H.E. Giulio Alaimo said: “The Amerigo Vespucci arrived on Sunday 20 June to participate in the centenary of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) founded by Prince Albert 1st, which was also attended by HSH Prince Albert II. The Navy General Staff wanted to meet with representatives of international organizations, including the United Nations Special Envoy. After the lunch on board, I had the pleasure of delivering the honours of the Italian Republic to five senior officials of the Monegasque institutions. Among others the President of the Parliament, Stephane Valeri, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Laurent Anselmi, the Vice President of the Parliament Madame Boccone-Pages were invited. I would like to emphasize the presence of the Italian Navy’s Chief of Staff, Admiral Paolo Dragone that gives the measure of the commitment at the highest levels of our Navy, in supporting this project”. The launch of the U.N. Decade of Ocean Science was the third major moment: “It is a United Nations initiative for the decade that has just begun – continued the Ambassador – a great commitment to protect the oceans and the marine environment that I shared in my short greeting speech and addressing the honours. Today the Amerigo Vespucci vessel represents Italy well. For 90 years she has been a symbol of beauty, savoir-faire, creativity for the Italian State and the Italian people. It is not presumption but a sincere worldwide recognition that today is confirmed here in the port of Monaco, when in the evening the Amerigo Vespucci is illuminated by the tricolour and when all day curious, tourists, visitors reach the pier to take pictures”. A strong bond made of history and tradition unites the sea to the Principality of Monaco and to Italy: “We are two neighbouring countries, and the sea is a common feature. Relationships have been built on the sea and with the sea between two cities, Genoa and Monaco, and that the Grimaldi family originated in Genoa in the Middle Ages. The sea is there and will also be there for the future, as the inauguration of the new port in Ventimiglia shows. Cala del Forte was licensed and renovated by the Principality, with a significant investment. The third port of the Principality will be the port of Ventimiglia, an element that also unites from this point of view”. The role of Rear Admiral Massimiliano Nannini was also to explain the indisputable commitment of the Navy in the environmental field and in particular for the protection of the seas: “The Amerigo Vespucci is not only a star product of Italy’s genius, but we also tried to combine the didactic activity with the students through a scientific activity, mainly observation. With the campaign starting in Monaco, observations will be made above all on marine mammals, therefore on some cetaceans, but on plastics’ damage also. We work on board and in communication as well because it is important to win the public opinion. The Navy has done a good job recently, we have shown that we are also present with important scientific activities which have been classified useful by the United Nations, including one by the Amerigo Vespucci and another carried out by the oceanographic research vessel Nova Lines at the North Pole.” Everyone knows that the Principality is highly active in research and indeed it is wonderful that the Decade of the Oceans project starts in its waters: “Monaco has always strongly desired international cooperation in the field of oceanography. What better place to launch a new project for the protection of the sea?”
Rear-Admiral Massimiliano Nannini knows his ship very well, having spent 35 years on board: “She is the vessel of the naval cadet officers, we all grew up here, because the first embarkation is on the Amerigo Vespucci, so that she will stay forever and ever in the officers’ heart”. Massimo Riccardo, Ambassador of Italy to UNESCO and Anna Luiza Thompson Flores, Director of the UNESCO Venice Office, also spoke during the presentation. “When the threat is global, everyone must do something, with courage – underlined Massimo Riccardo – We must be visionary, ambitious and meet the challenges. This is undoubtedly an important cooperation for the environment between Italy, Amerigo Vespucci and UNESCO, because the Decade of the Oceans makes this flagship the ideal ambassador to spread this message”. All this was also made possible by the commitment of the Italian institutions, as Anna Luiza Thompson Flores recalled: “We must thank the Italian government for the entire mandate of the organization as well as for all the ongoing projects in favour of environment and oceans. With this project, the strong link between Italy and UNESCO is once again sanctioned”. A new challenge has started.