April 20, 1882
In what was then the Kingdom of Italy, the Italian Royal Navy’s screw corvette Vettor Pisani departed from the city of Naples for an ambitious voyage across the globe. (A screw corvette is a small warship powered by both a steam engine and screw propeller.) The key objectives for this global circumnavigation included having the ship’s crew conduct a wide range of pioneering scientific experiments and studies.
The commander of the Vettor Pisani for this Italian Navy expedition was Captain Giuseppe Palumbo. Lieutenants Cesare Marcacci and Gaetano Chierchia were both assigned responsibility for most of the research that would be conducted during the voyage. Chierchia, as a matter of fact, had undergone intensive scientific training at the Naples Zoological Station (the world’s first zoological research station) throughout the three months prior to the start of the expedition. Felix Anton Dohrn, the founder and director of that zoological station, even visited the Vettor Pisani just before her departure from Naples to speak with members of the crew about their high-priority research goals for the journey.
With a temporary laboratory set up in the ship’s gun battery deck to help meet those goals, much of the work carried out by the crew over the next three years overseas included various hydrographic surveys and depth soundings. The generally uncharted regions in which a great deal of these efforts took place included the Chonos Archipelago, a series of islands off the mainland of Chile; the Galápagos Island, an archipelago located 490 nautical miles (900 kilometers) west of continental Ecuador; and an area near the Hawaiian Islands.
The Vettor Pisani’s circumnavigation of the Earth came to an end with her return to Naples on April 29, 1885. Palumbo and his crew brought back a considerable array of new surveys and studies. In addition, they had collected hundreds of marine specimens for the Naples Zoological Station.
Later that year, the Vettor Pisani was reassigned as a training ship for cadets at the Italian Naval Academy in the city of Livorno on the country’s western coast. She remained in military service until February 12, 1893.
Image Credit: Public Domain
Additional information on the 1882-85 voyage of the Vettor Pisani around the world is available at https://www.hydro-international.com/content/article/the-three-year-circumnavigation-by-the-vettor-pisani
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