S518 Nazario Sauro Submarine
The largest Italian submarine that can be visited still afloat.
An integral part of the AcquarioVillage offering, the Nazario Sauro gives visitors a chance to experience the living conditions of submariners aboard a real submarine, the prototype of the first series in the Sauro class built in 1976, decommissioned in 2002 and then turned into a museum in May 2010.
The Nazario Sauro submarine pre-show is spread over the third floor of the Museum – at the end of the section dedicated to emigration – in 40 metres of reconstructed “submarine”. This route is not intended to replace the submarine itself but to enhance and prepare for the visit to it.
The section allows visitors to interact for a longer time with some of the instruments that are not actually accessible on board, or can only be used in part, due to space being too restricted or for safety reasons. In addition, it provides a chance for those who cannot access the boat – the disabled, pregnant women, children under the age of 4 – to enjoy a unique, immersive and engrossing experience.
This interaction combines information focused on the whole operation of the submarine with fun and enjoyment, facilitating learning and providing a first-hand experience. For example, visitors can experience the submersion and resurfacing of the submarine, witness some aspects of life on board and enjoy using the periscope and hydrophone.
Starting from the Royal Submarine Delfino – the first one built in Italy – the history develops along an itinerary where the historic materials coming from Fondazione Fincantieri – Archivio Storico del Muggiano alternate with the models of the extraordinary collection of Prof. Claude Pallanca, of Musée Naval of Monaco, the most important collection of submarines in Europe.
The historic part displays two main models of the Second World War, the U-47 of Gunther Prien, and the HMS Upholder of Malcom Wanklyne, both dramatically related to the Italian events: the former sank the Arandora Star, which was carrying Italian prisoners, mainly emigrating to England (446 people died). The latter instead, sank the Conte Rosso, used to transport troops (1297 people died).
Various interactive stations alternate in this section, which implement the touch technology. This section is conceived as a true School for Submariners, to which you gain access by typing your name, surname and PIN number Once you have registered, you can “play” with different experiences, from the operation of the submarine, by flooding or emptying the ballast tanks of the submarine to reach different heights, to listening and identifying the targets, through the hydrophone. The sound of ships on the surface can be compared with the so called “biological” sounds emitted by animals, in order to understand how the submarine is actually an extraordinary mechanical “ear” that, from the depths, listens to the sea and is able to understand the situation on the surface, even without sonar or radar and without being at periscopic depth.
Two periscopes represent one of the main attractions of the path. A virtual device is installed on them and allows observing and identifying about ten different surface ships: the submariner students will test their ability to “look for targets”, using the original periscope of the “Nazario Sauro”, recovered for the purpose.
The experience in the submarine’s helm is very interesting: the helm was rebuilt – which actually looks like an airplane’s control stick – and the submariner students can undertake four different missions, moving among mine fields or rocky sea bottoms, always trying to keep the submarine intact without getting discovered by fighter submarines on the surface.
It is also possible to visit the submarine virtually, with an accurate reconstruction integrated by photographs showing the environment with 360° view, and to listen to the tales of the crew. Thanks to the collaboration of the Navy, it was possible to gather a large archive of images, films and especially interviews to seamen and officers that sailed on the Nazario Sauro during the last 30 years. There are curious stories on the habits, discomforts and sacrifices experienced on-board, but also funny stories on the pastimes or hygiene.
Based on these materials, the Galata Museo del Mare and the actors of Teatro Stabile of Genoa have re-constructed episodes of the life on-board, set in the same submarine, in a real “museum fiction”. Everything along the path has been conceived to be touched and moved: from climbing up on the tower to see the submarine sailing on the surface, to lying down on the original berths (with the exact size used on board), to the opening of the hatches that lead to the Engine Room; each element shows the physical character of life on board and prepares the visitor to go on the submarine.
The School for Submariners ends with a scenographic and impressive part: in a blue environment which reproduces the sea depths, the bow and the tower of the “Nazario Sauro” meet the allies and opponents of the Cold War: these are the models of submarines that sailed during the years in which the “Nazario Sauro” was operative, such as the American U.S.S. Lafayette SS-B-N 616, the French Améthyste S 605, and the American Seawolf SS-N-21. The large Russian submarines, the nuclear missile launchers as Delta III, and the Typhoon (protagonist of “the Hunt for Red October”, or the submarine fighter Akula – the fastest submarine in circulation – and the K 141, better known as “Kursk”, protagonist of the most recent submarine tragedy, with its sinking in the summer of 2000) are particularly interesting.