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by Admiral (ret) Attilio Duilio Ranieri
This submarine (more commonly known as the TARANTINI), was one of the four boats of the “LIUZZI” class, all built by the TOSI shipyard of Taranto between 1938 and 1940. The TARANTINI was laid down on April 5th, 1939, launched on January 7th, 1940 and delivered to the Regia Marina on January 16th of the same year.
At the beginning of the hostilities (for Italy June 10th, 1940), the TARANTINI, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Alfred0 Iashi, was already on patrol of Gavdos (Crete). On June 11th, it attacked a large tanker (around 7,000 t.), but failed due to malfunctioning torpedoes.
The boat’s second patrol, between the 27th of June and the 12th of July, called for a patrol off Haifa. During the transfer, it was attacked on the 28th in the Ionian Sea by an airplane, but without consequences. The day after, at around 5:00 AM, while on the surface south west of Cape Matapan, it sighted a British destroyers, probably H.M.S. DAINTY, which avoided the torpedoes and immediately retaliated, but without any success. Toward the end of the patrol, at 23:00 on the 11th of July, the TARANTINI launched torpedoes against a merchant ship departing Haifa, but missed the target. The, it continued on with the deck gun immobilizing the ship, and after having rescued the crew, sank the ship with a second torpedo. This was the Panamanian BEME of 3,040 t. in service to the British. Thereafter, it returned to base.
After two more patrols in the Mediterranean, the TARANTINI was assigned to BETASOM to operate in Atlantic. Thus, on August 31st, 1940 it left Trapani (Sicily) bound for Bordeaux. On September 10th, it crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and then moved on to patrol north of the Azores Islands where it remained, without any results, until the 29th. Thereafter, it moved on to Bordeaux where it arrived on October 5th.
On November 11th, 1940, the TARANTINI left Bordeaux for its first Atlantic mission: a patrol from November 18th to December 8th north west of Ireland. During the winter season the ocean was yet another enemy claiming victims; as soon as in open sea, at the estuary of the Gironde, exceptionally rough sea causes serious wounds to the second in command who was left immobilized for the remain of the mission. A few days later, on the 5th of December, another unusual wave ripped from the cunning tower the 2nd Chief helm-man Sergio CIOTTI who, despite the long search, was never found.
During the patrol, on the 2nd of December, the TARANTINI sighted a large convoy and, while the boat was preparing for the launch, it was discovered and underwent a bombardment, which lasted 24 hours. A total of 106 depth charges were heard, but fortunately without serious damages. Another attack, lasting 12 hours, was also avoided on the 5th of December.
The British submarine H.M.S. Thunderbolt, which was nothing else that the famous H.M.S. Thetis re-floated after a tragic sinking. The Thunderbolt would be later sank by the Italian corvette CICOGNA on March 14th, 1943.
On the 9th, the boat began the return voyage. The 15th it arrived at the estuary of the Gironde, to be navigated all the way to Bordeaux, and was already under the escort of German units sent, as usual, to protect the return of submarines. At 10:17, the TARANTINI was torpedoed by the British submarine Thunderbolt and sank almost immediately. Only 5 crewmembers are rescued: the second in command, Lieutenant Attilio Frattura, and other four people.
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