Scirè was an Italian Adua-class submarine, which served during World War II in the Regia Marina (the Italian Navy).
She was named after the Ethiopian region, where there was a battle between the Italian and Abyssinian troops during the war in Ethiopia in 1936. She was laid down by the Italian shipbuilder “Odero-Terni-Orlando (OTO)”, in La Spezia, on January 30, 1937. She was launched on January 6, 1938 and was commissioned into “Regia Marina” on April 25, 1938. During the war, she was modified to carry three mini submarines (SLCs). Actually she is one of the most famous submarines in the world due to the missions to Gibraltar and Alexandria.
The Adua class submarine was the fourth sub-class of the 600 Series of coastal submarines built for Regia Marina during the 1930s. There were 17 submarines in this class, almost all named after places in Ethiopia which had been an Italian colony since 1936. Only one, Alagi, survived World War II.
The 600 Series were designed as coastal-type submarines, built for service in the Mediterranean. They were built to conform to the interwar naval treaties arising from the 1922 Washington and 1930 London conferences, which placed restrictions on the number and size of warships of various types that nations could built. The coastal submarine was limited to a 600 tons surface displacement, though there was no limit placed on the numbers of these vessels that could be built.
The Adua class submarines were essentially repeats of the preceding Perla class design. They displaced about 690 tons surfaced and 880 tons submerged. They were 60.18 meters long, had a beam of 6.45 meters and a draft of 4.7 meters.
For surface running, they were powered by two 600 horsepower diesel engines, each driving one propeller shaft. When submerged each propeller was driven by a 400 horsepower electric motor. They could reach 14 knots (26 km/h) on the surface and 7.5 knots (13.9 km/h) submerged. Surfaced, the Adua class had a range of 3180 nautical miles (5890 km) at 10.5 knots (19.km/h), submerged they had a range of 74 nautical miles (137 km) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h).
They were armed with six internal 53.3 cm torpedo tubes, four in the bow and two in the stern. One reload torpedo was carried for each tube for a total of twelve. They were also armed with one 100 mm deck gun for combat on the surface. The light antiaircraft armament consisted of one or two 13.2 millimeters guns. They were manned by crews of about 44–48 men.
The SLC, also known as “maiale”, is derived from the “mignatta” of Raffaele Rossetti, used during the World War I to sink the Austrian battleship “Viribus Unitis”.
The SLC was a mini torpedo-shaped submarine, suitable to carry two operators provided with autonomous underwater breathing and an explosive charge to apply secretly to the hull of the enemy ships. This project was designed by Captain of Corps of Engineers Teseo Tesei, who later died in action with his SLC in Malta. The first two prototypes of SLC were tested in October 1935 in La Spezia. The results were exciting and the construction of other SLCs were commissioned.
In 1939 the Department of the Italian Navy that trained the use of SLC was transferred to a secret base located in “Bocca di Serchio”, near Pisa. In this secret place the new weapon was tested and improved.
The SLC had an electric motor rated at 1.6 horse-power. The power was supplied by a battery of accumulators. The maximum speed was 3 knots with an autonomy of about 15 miles at a speed of 2.5 knots. It was equipped with rudders, trim tanks and instrumentation, including a magnetic compass, a depth gauge, a clock, a voltmeter, two ammeters and a bubble level for longitudinal buoyancy control.
It had three sections: inside the first was placed the charge of about 230 kg of explosive. This part could be detached from the rest of the body and applied under the keel of the enemy ships.
The central part contained the batteries and, outside, the seats for the two operators. In the third part was housed the engine, the four blade propeller and the rudders.
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