“Amerigo Vespucci, you are still the most beautiful ship in the world!” George H.W. Bush Sails Alongside Amerigo Vespucci like Independence did in 1962

“Amerigo Vespucci, you are still the most beautiful ship in the world!” George H.W. Bush Sails Alongside Amerigo Vespucci like Independence did in 1962

By Dario Leone
Sep 14 2022
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More than sixty years later, Amerigo Vespucci recreated the moment with the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) in the Adriatic Sea, Sep. 1, 2022.

On Jul. 12, 1962, the Forrestal-class aircraft carrier USS Independence (CVA 62) operated in the US 6th Fleet area of operations when it sailed past the ITS Amerigo Vespucci in the Mediterranean Sea.

According to a US Navy press release, just more than sixty years later, Amerigo Vespucci recreated the moment with the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) in the Adriatic Sea, Sep. 1, 2022.

“This was an amazing opportunity to honor and reinforce the partnership between our two navies, our countries, and the legacy of U.S. Navy aircraft carriers in maritime diplomacy,” said Capt. David-Tavis Pollard, commanding officer of George H.W. Bush. “The Avengers are warriors who are the teachers, leaders, and ambassadors of America. We are honored to represent our families, hometowns, states and the nation abroad.”

According to Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) website, when Independence encountered the full-rigged ship in 1962, the carrier signaled to ask the vessel to identify itself, “training ship Amerigo Vespucci, Italian Navy,” was the response.

The Independence reportedly signaled back, “You are the most beautiful ship in the world.”

“Amerigo Vespucci, you are still the most beautiful ship in the world!” George H.W. Bush Sails Alongside Amerigo Vespucci like Independence did in 1962
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), transits the Adriatic Sea alongside the Italian training ship ITS Amerigo Vespucci, Sep. 1, 2022. The ships operated together to commemorate the 60th anniversary of a 1962 meeting between USS Independence (CVA 62) and Italy’s senior national vessel Amerigo Vespucci. 

An old black and white photo highlighted by NHHC in recent years, as well as on the Amerigo Vespucci’s website, marks the encounter six decades ago.

“I am grateful to USS George H.W. Bush and the whole US Navy for accepting my invitation to recreate history after 60 years, celebrating the anniversary of the sail past between USS Independence and ITS Amerigo Vespucci, that delivered the iconic label of ‘the world’s most beautiful ship’ to the vessel that I have the privilege to command,” said Italian Navy Capt. Max Siragusa, commanding officer of Amerigo Vespucci. “This ship brought me to U.S. for the first time in my life in 1992, as a midshipman; six years later I had the opportunity to work for two weeks on board USS Abraham Lincoln, deployed in the Persian Gulf, while performing a one year Personnel Exchange Program with the US Navy; today, in my last fortnight of Command at Sea I am delighted to put together three significant chapters of my professional life.”

When George H.W. Bush hailed Amerigo Vespucci she replied, “This is Italian Navy Ship Amerigo Vespucci, senior national vessel in active duty.”

George H.W. Bush replied, “Amerigo Vespucci, you are still the most beautiful ship in the world!”

“Amerigo Vespucci, you are still the most beautiful ship in the world!” George H.W. Bush Sails Alongside Amerigo Vespucci like Independence did in 1962
The Italian training ship ITS Amerigo Vespucci sails alongside the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), Sep. 1, 2022. The ships operated together to commemorate the 60th anniversary of a 1962 meeting between USS Independence (CVA 62) and Italy’s senior national vessel Amerigo Vespucci. 

Vespucci responded, “We are flattered and with you and the Avenger team fair winds and following seas for your deployment. May your ceiling and visibility remain unlimited.”

The Amerigo Vespucci is the oldest ship in commission in the Italian Navy and her Leonardesque motto is “Non chi comincia ma quel che persevera”. From a technical-structural point of view, the Vespucci is a sailing ship with auxiliary power plant. As concerns the sail rigging, she is a square-rigged ship, with three masts, firesail, main and mizzen (all equipped with yards and square sails) plus the bowsprit, in every respect, the fourth mast. The ship has also fore-and-aft sails, jibs on the bowsprit, stays between the masts and the spanker.

Since she entered service the ship has carried out training cruises every year, except for 1940, because of the war events, and for the years 1964, 1973 and 1997 for the works. The training activity is carried out mainly for the Naval Academy Cadets, but also for the Students of the Military Naval School “Francesco Morosini”, Helmsmen as well as youth members of Sailing Associations such as the Italian Naval League and the Italian Sail Training Association.

“Amerigo Vespucci, you are still the most beautiful ship in the world!” George H.W. Bush Sails Alongside Amerigo Vespucci like Independence did in 1962
USS Independence and ITS Amerigo Vespucci

Besides several short cruises in the Mediterranean, mostly made in spring and autumn, from 1931 to 2006 the Amerigo Vespucci performed 74 training cruises for the 1st Class Cadets of the Naval Academy: 40 in North Europe, 21 in the Mediterranean, 4 in the East Atlantic, 7 in North America and 1 in South America within the only circumnavigation of the globe carried out between May 2002 and September 2003. On this occasion, the ship was involved in the activities relevant to the New Zealand America’s Cup.

The summer training cruises have a medium length of about three months. As concerns the formative-training aspect, the Cadets extend their basic knowledge of navigation and life at sea, included the use of the sextant to fix the ship’s position. Therefore, the Amerigo Vespucci can be considered a “ school of life” and an indispensable training instrument for the future Naval Officers.

Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 10, George H.W. Bush CSG, is on a scheduled deployment in the US Naval Forces Europe-Africa area of operations, employed by US Sixth Fleet to defend US, allied and partner interests.

“Amerigo Vespucci, you are still the most beautiful ship in the world!” George H.W. Bush Sails Alongside Amerigo Vespucci like Independence did in 1962
Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Bayley Foster, left, and Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ryan Hartman, both assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), capture imagery of the Italian training ship ITS Amerigo Vespucci in the Adriatic Sea, Sep. 1, 2022. The ships operated together to commemorate the 60th anniversary of a 1962 meeting between USS Independence (CVA 62) and Italy’s senior national vessel Amerigo Vespucci. The George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe area of operations, employed by U.S. Sixth Fleet to defend U.S., allied and partner interests.

George H.W. Bush is the flagship of CSG-10 and the George H.W. Bush CSG. CSG-10 is comprised of George H.W. Bush, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26, the Information Warfare Commander, and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55).

The ships of DESRON 26 within CSG-10 are the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Nitze (DDG 94), USS Farragut (DDG 99), USS Truxtun (DDG 103), and USS Delbert D. Black (DDG 119).

The squadrons of CVW-7 embarked aboard George H.W. Bush are the “Jolly Rogers” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 103, the “Pukin Dogs” of VFA-143, the “Bluetails” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121, the “Nightdippers” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 5, the “Sidewinders” of VFA-86, the “Nighthawks” of VFA-136, the “Patriots” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 140, and the “Grandmasters” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 46.

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For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with allies and partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.

Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.

Photo credit: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stuart Posada, Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Sasha Ambrose and Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan Riley / U.S. Navy

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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