Search: Sort by:



On the war outset, Italian submarine fleet was numerous. They had throughout the conflict until the armistice in mid 1943, 172 active boats in the Mediterranean sea, Atlantic and Indian ocean. Despite they had been outclassed, outnumbered and overshadowed by stunning success of their German co belligerents, the Italian submarine arm fought hard and with bravery during the conflict. Italian submarines were considered superior to German 500 and 750 ton models. Most of them saw action in the Mediterranean theater.

Italian subs operated independently and in previously assigned areas. Notwithstanding, they took part in several rescue missions of sunken German U-boats, blockade runners and raiders, like Atlantis or in the famous Laconia incident. 10 out of the 32 boats in Atlantic waters during 1942/1943, managed to return to their Mediterranean bases, 16 were sunk in the Atlantic. Two were seized in Bordeaux by the Germans when Italy capitulated in 1943, one of them sunk later , three were taken by the Japanese , and one finally surrendered to the British in Durban , South Africa. Although much has been written on the German U-boat onslaught during the war, the first confirmed attack led by one submarine against a merchant vessel in Brazilian waters, was made by the Italian Tazzoli on 25 FEB 42.

An average of 32 subs crossed the treacherous shallow waters of Gibraltar into the Atlantic in support of German operations. Italian submarines sent to the bottom 132 Merchants totaling roughly 600.000 ton. They also sank 18 warships with 19 000 ton. Italian Navy sent to the battle around 220.000 men. 25.400 were lost with their submarines and surface vessels. Italian submarine force began operations with a sizable fleet of 115 subs. 32 of them operated in the French Atlantic base at Bordeaux, known as BETASOM, occupied since 30 Aug 1940. Adm Angelo Parona was the first commander being replaced in 18 Sep 40 by Romulo Polacchini who remained until 28 Sep 42.

The third commander was Cap. Enzo Grossi who after the war decided to live in Argentina. In April 1943 after the sinking of submarine Archimedi, Italian fleet moved from the south Atlantic battleground due to lack of new units once they were refitting some of the subs for transport duties to Far East. Considering the time spent during voyages from their French berths, Italian subs remained for short periods in Brazilian waters.

Active Boats: 172

Missions done: 1750

Miles done: 2.500.000

Days at sea: 24.000

Attacks done: 173

Merchants sunk: 132 totaling 650 000 tons

Warships sunk: 18 totaling 29,000 tons

Submarines sunk: 128

In all, the Italian submarines sent to the bottom 39 merchants in the South Atlantic with a total of 278,000 DWT



Since 2007 -