Inside the Museum are exhibited the remains of five boats (plus fragments of two other side) dating from the 2ND to the 5th century a.d. The wrecks were brought to light between 1958 and 1965 during the construction of the International Airport "Leonardo da Vinci".
Boats are preserved only the basic structures, covered by sediments, have withstood the destructive action of the water, the marine flora and fauna.
The ships were placed inside the port built by Emperor Claudius in the sec.d.C, in an area between the Museum building and the remains of the Northern pier of the harbour basin. In that area, located in marginal position and subject to silting, a real "naval cemetery" where boats were abandoned too leaky to pay service yet.
Of the five best-preserved vessels, two (Fiumicino 1 and 2) are identifiable with the naves caudicariae known from ancient sources. The naves caudicariae, a sort of large river barges were used to transport goods from the seaport to the river ports of Rome. These barges, without sails, were towed by ropes by men (the helciarii mentioned by classical sources) or by oxen that proceeded on the banks of the Tiber. This propulsion system, called haulage, was used until the late 19th century. Fiumicino 3 is also a river type vessel but smaller in size than the previous. Fiumicino 4, originally equipped with a square sail, is instead a vessel suitable for sea transport or cabotage to an inshore fishing activities. In the latter business was also used as the small "Fisherman's Boat" (Fiumicino 5) equipped with a nursery for fish transport. The bottom of the hull was, in fact, drilled at the nursery, to allow internal water circulation and keep the fish alive as well.
The museum exposes numerous objects related to the life and equipment on board and the types of materials that, transported by sea, arriving at the port of Rome (amphorae, marble, etc.).