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Boats

by Admiral (ret) Attilio Duilio Ranieri


This is the first boat of series ADUA (also known as the Africans) to which it gave its name, and which was the most numerous of the coastal submarines class “600”. The 17 boats of the series ADUA were built by various Italian shipyards in the years between 1936 and 1938 and which were named after famous episodes of the recently concluded war in East Africa (1935-36) which brought about the creation of Italian East Africa. The ADUA was built by the Monfalcone shipyard (near Gorizia) in 1936: laid down on February 1st, launched September 13th and delivered November 14th.

At the end of 1939 the boat was assigned to the 71st Squadron of the VII Submarine Group based in Cagliari, Sardinia. When Italy entered the war (June 10th, 1940), the ADUA was under the command of Lieutenant Roselli Lorenzini and already on patrol in the Sardinian Channel off the meridian of Cape Teulada forming a barrier with three other boats. Three days later, the ADUA was moved to the Balearic Islands and, finally, to the Gulf of Lion (Southern France) in a patrol area about 15 miles east of Cape Creus. In this area, on the morning of June 18th the boat sighted a French convoy, sailing from Marseille to Toulon, and launched a torpedo against a troop transport. The result of the attack is unsure: the boat heard the explosion of the torpedo (or at least what sounded like it), but French documentation does not indicate any ship hit.

A little bit after this mission, Captain Reselli Lorenzini disembarked (to take the command of the submarine EMO), and the command of the ADUA was transferred to Lieutenant Luigi Riccardi who was lost with the boat. Between October 1940 and March 1941, the boat was assigned to Pula in support of the Submarine School. During the assignment to Pula, command of the boat was temporarily and for very short periods of time assigned to Lieutenant Carlo Todaro, and Lieutenant Mario Resio. Later on, again under the command of Lieutenant Riccardi, the ADUA was transferred to Taranto.

Here, between March and May 1941, the boat completed patrols in the Gulf of Taranto and in the waters off Greece. On May 10th, it reached Leros. From this base, on the 24th, it left to move on a patrol in the waters between Alexandria and Crete. On June 3rd, off Cape Littinos, the ADUA intercepted a small motor barge on which 72 British soldiers were trying to reach the Egyptian coast. After having captured 8 officers, the lighter was forced back to Crete. Thereafter, the boat left the patrol area to return to Taranto where it would undergo refitting for about three months.

In mid-September 1941, the boat completed a patrol off Minorca and then on the 16th reached Cagliari. On the 29th, it left base to move to a patrol area off Cape Palos, north of Cartagena (Spain) where a large convoy was expected to be crossing. At 3:50 on the 30th, the ADUA sighted a large group of 11 destroyers and, with great courage, went on the attack with a salvo of 4 torpedoes. The crew heard detonations and disengaged to avoid the reaction of the destroyers. At 05:25 the boat sent a signal (it was later revealed that it was the convoy named “Halbert”, transferring from Gibraltar to Malta); thereafter, all contacts with the boat were lost.

After the war, British documentation revealed that a submarine (probably picked up from the radio finder when it sent the signal and later pin pointed with ASDIC) was sunk by two of the eleven destroyers, the GURKHA (F63) and LEGION (F74), at around 10:30 AM on September 30th, 1941 in position 37°10’N, 00°56’E (another source gives the position a bit more to the south in position 36°50’N). There were no survivors.

During its operational life, the ADUA completed 16 war patrols, plus 46 training missions while assigned to the Submarine School, for a total of 9,690 miles.

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