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Taranto's Night

by Cristiano D'Adamo

The day following the attack the remaining battleships, Giulio Cesare, Vittorio Veneto and Andrea Doria were immediately transferred to Naples, while the salvage operations began on the damaged ones. The Littorio and the Caio Duilio were relatively easy to recover and within a month these ships were already afloat. The Cavour, on the other hand, required a significant investment in time and resources.

R.N. Cavour

The Cavour was moored in the "Mar Grande", Taranto's larger lagoon. The ship was hit by a torpedo launched by the Swordfish of Williamson-Scarlet. The explosion took place near the keel and caused a gash of about 12 x 8 meter, in the proximity of the forward ammunition depot. The unit, considered seriously damaged, was brought closer to shore, but not close enough to avoid partial sinking. After the unit had settled to the bottom, water reached the main deck thus submerging most of the hull. Rescue work started immediately and, already on November 13th, crews were at work.

Towards the end of 1941 the unit was, once again, seaworthy and it was transferred to Trieste for further repairs and some modernization work. On September 8th, following orders received from the Italian high command, the crew of the Cavour did not scuttle the unit since it was more than 6 months away from being operation. On the 10th, the Germans took control of the battleship. On February 15, 1945, during a heavy aerial bombardment, the ship was hit by several bombs, capsized and finally sunk. It was later scrapped in 1946 and stricken from role on February 27, 1947.

R.N. Duilio

Duilio was hit at around midnight by a torpedo launched from about 400 meters. The explosion caused a hole of about 11 x 7 meters to the right near the forward ammunition depots. At around 4:45 AM of the 12th, the ship was run aground to avoid sinking. In January of the following year, the unit was once again afloat. On the 3rd of February the unit entered dry dock. During November and January the ship actively participated to the defense of Taranto providing for antiaircraft coverage. On January 26th, the battleship left Taranto, and two days later reached Genoa.

R.N. Littorio

The Littorio was hit by a total of three torpedoes. two to starboard, one under the second turret, near frame 192 and causing damage from frame 187 through frame 192, and the second one aft of the first turret near frame 163, causing damage from frame 159 through frame 165. The third weapon hit the ship to port near the rudder control mechanism, causing the partial destruction of the primary rudder. Despite the heavy damage, the ship was never in peril of sinking, but it was nevertheless decided to let it rest on the muddy bottom of a shallow section of the harbor. Repair work was hampered by the presence

Additional Damage

The destroyer Libeccio and the heavy cruiser Trento were hit by bombs which failed to explode. Bombs fallen near the airport caused the loss of two hydroplanes and a small fire. Minor damages were recorded near the docks, the oil fuel depot and the aqueduct. Several bombs fell in a residential area near the "Ospedale Civile" (hospital), causing several casualties amongst the civilian population.

In addition to the civilian population, the Littorio listed 32 casualties, the Cavour 17 and the Duilio 3.

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