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May 2005

Article selected from our quarterly magazine dedicated to the largest and most luxurious boats with information, interviews, technical articles, images and yachting news



Yachting catalogue

Navigation tests

Used boats


Video Nautica

Interview by
Andrea Bergamini


Interview to Robert Greco - year of birth 1925 - manager of CANAV - Centro Architettura Naval Industrial Ship Model - specialized in building ship models

Models as "visit cards" of a yard

Would you briefly tell us, please, something about your history and how your passion for building ship model was born?

Well, I've always loved sea indeed; still before the war I was a member of the "Legione Marinara" who organized regatta for youths; then I've attended the Nautical High School and during the war I shipped by Merchant Marine.

Just when the war ended, I began working as carpenter by the Americans but then I was involved in movies industry in the way I'd built galleys, windjammers and ships to be used on sets of famous movies.

Afterward I was for ten years technical manager by the Navaltecnica - Anzio - sometimes working also together with Sonny Levi; then for two years I've worked by Canados until in 1973 I transferred to the Cantieri di Chiavari. After having worked as designer by the Cantieri Costaguta, in 1982 I decided to found CANAV for building ship models.

In the old days a ship model had always been built before realizing any type of hull began.

Well, an owner ordering a ship wanted to look carefully at the ship model before committing her to a production schedule and signing someone contract for. Suffice it to be considered that competitors showed models that was tested in ship tanks using all technical tricks for simulating as high performances as possible, even when the legendary Royal Navy offered a contract for tender in order to build ships.

From which step did building begin, how did the work go on?

Well, the classic type of model had been made from waterlines, namely from overlapped longitudinal planes. Only having a good knowledge of, skills and eye at a carpenter could build a ship model.

Would you tell us, please, something about the activities at CANAV?

Well, we work exclusively on drawings. When our activity began, we really realized all drawings from ship models and this method resulted in a very complex operation. In ?80s we've worked a lot for great shipping companies and for Fincantieri building very carefully detailed models before ships construction had been actually completed.

Is it so important to build ship models?

Indeed, a ship model shows immediately any failure, any discrepancy in designing a ship impossible to be evaluated on drawings and which, in many cases, not even computer techniques can show at all.

Which are prospects of your activities today?

Well, the market changes in many ways. Orders from our Italian shipyards are less and less, quasi - non - existent at all today. The standardization dictated by Japanese, Korean and Chinese "colossuses" in building mega merchant ships has also consequently changed our activities. Nowadays the trend in our field is oriented to luxury - pleasure crafts tough all difficulties and complications from. Above all an owner orders the yard to build a unique today.

So the model is an unique, an appreciable yard's visit card, the actually only tool able to make an owner crazy about a craft, able to convince him, able to let a yard win important orders. On the ground of a ship model full - or semi - customizations may be also featured for suiting all owner requirements. Moreover, after having delivered a yacht, something unique, an actual witness of building a yacht is left.

What kind of material do you use in building them?

Formerly above all wood was utilized but now it's even more difficult to find seasoned wood for. However, the best material is copper resulting in a fine - made - look not reachable at all by using wood. Hulls and superstructures of all our scale ship models, are built in photo - engraved, beaten, indented and soft soldered copper while deck accessories are in melted, turned brass. Lifeboats are in glass fibre. For painting we use epoxy - and iso acrylic paintings that make for long life.

For further information please contact: CANAV - Centro Architettura Navale Industrial Ship Model - , I - 16100 Genova, P.O. Box 919, phone/fax: +39 (0)10 2461033, e - mail: