Battleship Roma was one of the three Italian Littorio class battleships operating during the Second World War.
She was one of the most modern and powerful battleships of her times. The construction of Roma and her sister Impero, the fourth battleship never finished, was planned to strengthen the Italian Navy which, until then, had only two modern battleships and some old WWI battleships.
Battleship Roma was laid down by the Italian shipbuilder “Cantieri Riuniti dell’Adriatico”, in Trieste, on 18 September 1938, almost four year after the first two battleships (Vittorio Veneto and Littorio) of her class. She was launched on 9 June 1940, the day before Italy entered the war, and was commissioned into “Regia Marina” (the Italian Navy) on 14 June 1942. Based on experience of the first two ships, some small improvements were made to her, including additional freeboard to the bow.
Design The direction of the construction works was assigned to the engineer Umberto Pugliese. He spent his entire career in the continuous improvement of the studies relating to shipbuilding and he solved various problems concerning the design and efficiency of battleships, conceiving innovative solutions for its time, as for example the system of underwater protection of the armored hulls.
Battleship Roma was about 241 meters long overall, had the beam of about 33 meters and the draft of 9.6 meters.
The main feature of battleship Roma, that distinguished her from the other two battleships, was her bow. Because of problems while navigating at sea with waves, detected with the previous two battleships, the bow was raised with a strong deck flare. This made Roma more efficient at sea and also the most beautiful of the WW2 Italian battleships.
The Littorio class battleships, including Roma, were the first battleships in the world to be equipped with three rudders. A large one placed in the center of the hull at the stern and the other two placed behind the two front propellers. The rudders could be operated jointly or independently in case of damage.
Armor The ship was protected by a main armored belt that reached the maximum thickness of 350 mm and was sloped outside to decrease the angle of impact of a possible projectile. Inside there was a second layer of steel that was 70 mm thick. The main deck was 162 mm thick in the central area of the ship, reduced to 45 mm in less critical areas. The three main battery turrets were protected with 350 mm thick steel plates (with a maximum of 380 mm on the front face) and theirs lower structures were housed in barbettes that were also 350 mm thick. The four secondary turrets were protected with 280 mm thick steel plates and the conning tower had 260 mm thick sides.
Propulsion The ship was powered by four “Belluzzo” geared steam turbines rated at 128000 shaft horsepower (95000 kW). Each group could drive only one propeller. The four groups of turbines, independent of each other, were placed in watertight spaces, two towards the bow and two towards the stern. In the middle of the hull, between the turbines rooms, there were eight oil-fired Yarrow boilers that supplied the steam required for the turbines operation. Each boiler was placed in watertight room. The ship had a standard equipment of 3700 tons of fuel oil that could be increased to 4200 tons in case of necessity. The fuel was contained in 46 tanks distributed under the armored deck. The four propellers were made of high strength bronze and had three blades with a diameter of 4.80 meters. The engines provided the top speed of 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph) and the range of 3920 mi (6310 km; 3410 nmi) at 20 kn (37 km/h; 23 mph).
Security systems The ship was divided into seven security zones limited by watertight bulkheads. Each zone was divided into compartments.
In addition there were specific teams with specific tasks: two fire and flooding emergency teams, two teams to repair the engines, a team to repair the hull, a team of carpenters and a fire team for the outside decks.
Four electric pumps with a capacity of 60 tons each per hour, two turbo pumps with a capacity of 150 tons each per hour and eight ejectors with a capacity of 25 tons each per hour were used to empty the bilge.
Eight electric pumps with a capacity of 800 tons each per hour were used to eject large quantities of water in case of flooding.
The fire service was provided by a collector and a network of pipes placed along the sides of the ship with fifty-two valves for the application of hydrants.
In an emergency the ammunition depots could be quickly flooded.
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