Riding the wave

Operating indicator

The Hydrographic Institute of the Navy keeps an indicator of operation, certainly built at the mechanical workshop of the Institute in early twentieth century, although the instrument does not have any markings or numbers that allow for identifying it: however, in the biographical information on Giovanni Boccardo, mechanical worker at the Institute from 1882 onwards, it appears that, in 1919, he was praised and rewarded for the demonstrated expertise in building one of these instruments.

Operating indicator

The operating indicator can quickly determine the real or relative motion of another ship, so solving various nautical, operating and tactical problems; during naval fights allowed to obtain the data to take the shot. The instrument has been used for a long time and was of great importance, as evidenced by the ministerial despatch No 35900 of 27th December 1919, accompanying the specimen: "The operating indicator, when received on board, shall be immediately installed, so that while navigating the Officers shall test the practical use of the same, taking advantage of every favorable opportunity.


Giovanni Boccardo, of Francesco and Maria Luisa Bacigalupo, was born in Genoa, June 16, 1858. In 1879 he enlisted in the Navy and served on several naval vessels until 1882. In October of that year passed to civil roles in the Hydrographic Office as a mechanical worker, and in 1884 attended the hydrographic campaign of the "Washington ". In December of the same year he graduated as "marine engineer".
In 1902 he worked on behalf of the Hydrographic Office, staging at the Cartographic Exhibition in Antwerp in April.
In 1903 he was appointed Knight of the Crown of Italy. In 1913 he was praised by the Navy Department for services rendered in the work of installation of the Signalling Service in the port of Venice.
In 1915 he was commended by the Navy Department for innovations made to the naval compass , and was earned a cash prize.
In 1919 he received a further commendation and a cash prize for proven expertise in the construction of the operating indicator. Subsequently he was awarded a silver medal "for having contributed to the development of marine sciences", with the design and construction of various nautical instruments, including the currentometer that bears his name.
In 1920 he was made Knight of St. Maurice and Lazarus.
By Paola Presciuttini
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