SS Leonardo da Vinci was an ocean liner built in 1960 by Ansaldo Shipyards, Italy for the Italian Line as a replacement for their SS Andrea Doria that had been lost in 1956. She was initially used in transatlantic service alongside SS Cristoforo Colombo, and primarily for cruising after the delivery of the new SS Michelangelo and SS Raffaello in 1965. In 1976 the Leonardo da Vinci became the last Italian Line passenger liner to be used in service across the North Atlantic. Between 1977 and 1978 she was used as a cruise ship by Italia Crociere, but was laid up from 1978 onwards until 1982 when she was scrapped.
Concept and construction
The Italian Line lost most of its passenger liners during World War II, including the prestigious SS Rex and SS Conte di Savoia. All of the ships that did survive the war dated from the 1920s. In 1949 the company received subsidies from the Italian government to build two new liners of approximately 30,000 gross register tons for the transatlantic service to New York City. These were delivered in 1953 and 1954 as SS Andrea Doria and SS Cristoforo Colombo, respectively, re-establishing Italy in the transatlantic service business with the finest ships to serve on the New York—Mediterranean run. But the Andrea Doria sank after just three years of service on 25 July 1956 after colliding with the Swedish American Line ship MS:Stockholm:(1948). This left the Italian Line in need of a second ship on the North Atlantic run.