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Service of Michelangelo

 

 

 

 

 

The Norwegian shipowner Knud Kloster visited the ships and he preferred buying the Michelangelo and Raffaello instead of the France, because their outside decks were more suitable for cruises. They were more spacious and had 3 pools, absent on the France's decks. Unfortunately he decided to buy France instead because she required less transformation work inside and already had more portholes. Also the companies Chandris and the Costa Armatori of Genoa didn't want the ships for the same reasons: costs.

The American company "Home Lines" wished really buy the ships, but they were incredibly turned down by the Italian Line who did not wish to be associated with the embarrassing money-losers. The Home Lines wanted to keep the ships under Italian flag and use them with Italian crew for Caribbean cruises. Italian Lines' answer was a firm "No". Finally, in 1976 a buyer emerged who would fulfil Italian Line's demands. The Shah of Persia wanted to buy the great ships and use them as barrack ships for army personnel and oil workers.

With great disappointing from all the people who travelled on them and of all the people who worked years at their construction, Italian Line accepted and in December 1976 a deal was struck. The prides of Italy that had originally cost $45 million each, were sold for only $2 million each.

 

Michelangelo (behind) and Raffaello laying dismissed in la Spezia - La Michelangelo (dietro) e la Raffaello in attesa di compratori a La Spezia

Emptied by their original furnishings, in July 1977 the Michelangelo set out on her last voyage under her own power to Bandar Abbas, a port in south-east Persia, where she was permanently moored. In the presence of the Shah she was now officially made a citizen of Persia, but fortunately she still retained her original name and 50 Italian workers were permanently employed aboard for her care and maintenance. During 1977 she was rebuilt to accommodate 1 800 personnel.

For 15 years the Michelangelo served as a barracks ship, but after the Shah of Persia was overthrown in the late '70s, the Italian personnel was dismissed and returned to Italy.

 

In 1978 one reconstruction of the two ships was suggested to utilise them as cruise ships catering to a deluxe clientele, reducing the passenger capacity to 1.300 persons. The project foresaw also two new names for Michelangelo and Raffaello: "SciÓ Reza il Grande" and "Ciro il Grande" ('Shah Reza the Big' and 'Ciro the Big' respectively).  

A commission of experts, purposely sent from Italy to examine the ships and execute some maintenances, immediately noticed the poor state of the ships. The hulls were rusted, the wood that covered the outside decks was becoming deformed by the sun, and their interiors were invaded by rats. It was clear that these ships, who only a few years prior, were the admirals of the Italian fleet, would never sail again.

 

The end of Michelangelo, in Pakistan in 1991 - La fine della Michelangelo, in Pakistan nel 1991

Before 1983, was rumoured around Italy the possibility of recovering the ships by some non Italian agents, but it never became true.

The great Michelangelo continued to be neglected, rust covering her fine lines and rats inhabiting her once so gracious halls. Finally in 1991 the officials of Persia, now called Iran, decided that the ship was too old for any use and she was towed into a Pakistani scrapyard, where she arrived on 7 June 1991. There, the specialists started to dismantled the once great, majestic ship. For several years, the street dealers of Karachi sold "memorablia" from the Michelangelo: kitchen equipment, water taps and toilet bowls...

 

 

 

                 This was the end of the greatest Italian liner ever.

 

 

 

 
  The end of Michelangelo, in Pakistan in 1991 - La fine della Michelangelo, in Pakistan nel 1991  
 
 

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