Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 by Peter Knego
At 6:00 PM this Saturday (August 4) in the Caronia Room (former 3rd class cinema — “B” Deck fwd.) on board the QUEEN MARY in Long Beach, California, Peter Knego will helm a Keynote presentation entitled “AUGUSTUS: The Ecstasy, The Agony And The Aftermath”. The show will feature images of the 1952-built Italian liner in her heyday and during a visit in 1999 while she was moored as the MS PHILIPPINES (Manila Floating Hotel and Restaurant) at Manila.
Knego recently took a series of poignant images of the ship on the beach at Alang, India, just prior to the start of her demolition (which is still in progress). Many of the AUGUSTUS’ treasures have been salvaged, some of which will be available for sale on Knego’s MidShipCentury website.
For those wishing to enjoy a full day aboard the QUEEN MARY, Dr. Nelson Arnstein will be doing a presentation on Royal Caribbean’s ALLURE OF THE SEAS earlier that day at 1:00 PM.
Please note, as this is a quarterly meeting of the Steamship Historical Society of America’s Southern California Chapter, a small donation for non-members may be requested.
Here are a few outtakes from “AUGUSTUS, The Ecstasy, The Agony And The Aftermath”:
The Ecstasy: AUGUSTUS was at the time of her building, the epitome of a modern Italian ocean liner, with a futuristic and sleek exterior styling that was far ahead of its time. Internally, the ship featured Midcentury artwork, furniture and fittings by some of Italy’s finest artists, artisans and designers, employing a roster of names that included: Gustavo Pulitzer-Finale (a rival and contemporary of Gio Ponti), Ugo Carra (top designer), Tranquilio Marangoni (artist), Carlo Sbisa (ceramist), Arte Luce (lighting) and Cassina (renowned Italian furniture maker), among others. She and her sister GIULIO CESARE (scrapped in 1973) were the pair of ships built just prior to the ANDREA DORIA (sank in a collision off Nantucket in 1956) and CRISTOFORO COLOMBO (eventually scrapped), considered by many to be among the most beautiful ships ever built. Much of the latter two ships’ architecture and styling was a development of the prior twins’. For several years after the loss of the DORIA, AUGUSTUS and GIULIO CESARE were diverted from their Italy to South America service to the North Atlantic run.
AUGUSTUS was sold to Asian interests and led a life of obscurity at various anchorages for decades, outlasting nearly every ship of her era. In 1998, she became the MS PHILIPPINES and was intended for use as a floating hotel adjunct to the famed Manila Hotel but the crash of the Asian economy and various social upheavals in the region rendered the plans largely unrealized. Peter Knego spent a week documenting her in Manila in 1999, amazed to find most of her Italian Line interiors intact.
The Agony: Beautifully maintained, the ship remained in Manila until finally being sold off for scrap in 2011. Removal of fittings and the demolition of AUGUSTUS (by then named just PHILIPPINE) commenced in December of 2011. Peter Knego paid a final visit to the ship in India just as the process began, taking a series of dramatic images just prior to her demise.
The Aftermath: Soon, there will be nothing left of the mighty shell of the AUGUSTUS but much of her beauty will live on in the remnants that have been preserved. A forty foot container full of AUGUSTUS treasures arrived at Knego’s home in Moorpark, California this past May. Many items will be soon offered for sale on the MidShipCentury website.
Knego will bring a selection of smaller items from the AUGUSTUS with him to the QUEEN MARY.