In 1904, an elegant 67-metre, 700-tonner had been built in Leith, Scotland, for Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria. The ship was originally named 'Rovenska'. It was built in Scotland in 1904 for Maria Theresa of royal blood in Austria. The vessel was never delivered to Austria but instead it was confiscated by the British navy and used as a minesweeper during World War I. The steam yacht was purchased by Marconi in 1919. Having renamed the yacht Elettra, Marconi travelled between Italy and England, where the vessel was restored to its former glory and fitted out as his personal, floating laboratory (which the company agreed to subsidise). A Neapolitan naval officer, Raffaele Lauro, was appointed captain, commanding a crew of 30. In addition to the wireless laboratory, the yacht had cabins for Marconi and his wife, three guest cabins, four bathrooms and an oak study. The grand Marchessa Marconi died on July 20, 1937, and soon afterwards his ship the “Elettra” was sold to the Italian Government. She was requisitioned by the Germans in Trieste in 1943 and was torpedoed in 1944 by a British submarine and sunk off the Dalmation coast. After the war, the Elettra was raised and handed back to the Italian Government in 1962 where it eventually fell into disrepair and was cut up for scrap.
According to Degna Marconi in her book 'My Father, Marconi', the choosing of a name for the yacht was the subject of family conferences: 'Her new name was selected after endless family conferences, with each of us offering suggestions. Father himself rather fancied the Italian name 'Scintilla' which means spark but was so appalled at the probability that the English would pronounce it 'sintilla' rather than 'schintilla' that he settles for 'Elettra' because it is indestructible in any language'.
Radio station: In June 1920, the "Elettra" made a shakedown cruise in European waters. At this stage, test broadcasts on shortwave were made under the callsign ICCM using gramaphone records while the ship was in the Bay of Biscay off the coast of Portugal.
In connection with the visit of the Imperial Press Union to Canada in July 1920, when delegates crossed the Atlantic on the SS Victorian, Marconi used both a high power long wave transmitter and a low power short wave transmitter to carry out tests to determine which was the best system for long distance broadcasting. Grammophone music was broadcast from the yacht Elettra.
In fact, on many notable occasions, radio broadcasts on shortwave were made from the "Elettra", including for example, the following:
1921 Boxing match from Brownsea England
1923 Test broadcasts to USA & Australia
1930 Broadcast to Sydney Exhibition from Genoa
1931 Round the world voice broadcast under the callsign IBDX
1931 Broadcast to Brazil for dedication of Christ statue
1935 Birthday broadcasts with other ships, the Graf Zeppelin and Admiral Byrd in Antarctica