This is how the presidential yacht that once belonged to Ciampi and Napolitano is reborn

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MEN 209 argo marina
Argo (known as MEN 209 until 2001)

Argo (24.36 m x 5.5 m), also known as MEN 209 was built for the Navy in the 1970s, and was also the Italian presidential yacht of Ciampi and Napolitano. In 2020 it all seemed to be over and from the abandonment, it was going to disappear. Then someone came to their senses. Sold to a private individual, it is coming back to life.

Hidden in the back of sheds or even in plain sight on docks, thousands of boats lie abandoned in Italy. There are also iconic models like this stunning Baglietto Elba which we recently told you about. What if we told you that in La Spezia the same fate befell Argo (MEN 209), a former Navy spy boat and more recently presidential yacht of Ciampi and Napolitano? What’s more, in 2020 they were also going to demolish it. Then someone, fortunately, reconsidered. After being purchased by the Italian steel magnate, Giovanni Arvedi, is now ready to be reborn with a maxi refit of two million euros.

The motor yacht that was spying

Delivered in 1972 to the Navy, outside it was the classic 1970s motor yacht. The construction had been taken care of by the shipyards Italcraft in Gaeta, and to see it from the outside, no one would have thought that it was actually a spy boat.


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With its camouflage it monitored the situation in the Mediterranean when the Cold War was still pulsating both above the surface of the sea and below. During this conflict, in fact, it was used as an electromagnetic signal spying unit while still in 1992 it was modernized. For what purpose? Become a submarine rescue unit.

MEN 209 argo marina

By the sound of it, it sounds like a boat worthy of a James Bond movie. and, in fact, it’s all true. Over the years, having exhausted the function for which it was created, it became a de facto “institutional” yacht. He attended Navy parties and hosted presidents such as Carlo Azeglio Ciampi or Giorgio Napolitano on board, along with all the figures that revolved around them depending on the circumstance. Then, over time, oblivion took over. And from lying in an arsenal in La Spezia to demolition to “make room” is a snap.

Aug. 03, 2022. Ciampi arrives at La Maddalena aboard Argo
August 03, 2002. Ciampi arrives at La Maddalena aboard Argo

Argo’s new life

Argo is a wooden planking yacht. An object that needs specific care and attention. Restorations, in these cases, do not go hand in hand with speed, especially to do something permanent. The numbers are not trivial either: refitting Argo will cost about two million euros, and the shipyard at
Sangiorgio of the Port of Genoa
. Owner Giovanni Arvedi, the Italian steel king, will therefore only be able to enjoy the yacht from 2025.

I wonder how the layout will change after the refit. For now there are four cabins on board and room for seven people who were (during “service” the seven crew members). The large flybridge characterizes the upper area while the other outdoor areas are forward and aft.

Engine-wise, the Navy had equipped it with two CRM diesels (18W) with an output of 990 Kw (1327.61 HP).

Official data sheet:

Set on: 15/04/1971
Launched on: 20/10/1971
Construction site: Italcraft of Gaeta
Displacement: 64.47 t
LOA: 24.36 m
Max Beam: 5.50 m
Draft: Bow: 0.96 m – Stern: 1.93 m
Motor apparatus: 2 C.R.M. type 18D/S-2 4-stroke diesel engines with 18 cylinders arranged in W of 40° reverse gear driving two fixed triple-bladed propellers
Power: 990 KW (1327.61 HP )
Speed: 10 Kt
Autonomy: 500 Nm
Crew: 7 military personnel (1 officer, 2 noncommissioned officers, 6 graduates and volunteers)

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