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Type C.R.D.A.

by Cristiano D'Adamo

The genesis of the ARGO class and its derivates, the three TRITONE classes, is unusual. While most of the submarine fleet already in service in the Italian Navy in the 30s and in later years was the result of a close collaboration between the Navy (well-known designers such as Bernardis and Cavallini) and the private industry, the class ARGO was the result of the independent design work of the C.R.D.A. shipyard of Monfalcone. The Italian shipbuilding industry produced several boats under foreign commission; one of these classes of submarines was the ARGO, a double hull boat of the Laurenti design. The ARGO class included two vessels, the ARGO and VELELLA, both ordered by the Portuguese Navy in the early 30s.

Laid down in 1931, the submarines of the ARGO class were almost completed when the Portuguese government cancelled the order. Some sources attribute the cancellation to financial difficulties, but it appears that the project was abandoned due to the tension arisen between Rome and Lisbon over the Italian occupation of Ethiopia (1935). The builder, C.R.D.A. of Monfalcone, offered the boats to the Italian Navy which had been paying attention to the project all along, and after a delay, these submarines were eventually modified and accepted into the Regia Marina. Modifications involved the adoption of equipment and technical solutions already in use on other classes of submarines, thus facilitating the training of personnel and maintenance.
The ARGO class was too large to be considered coastal and too small to be considered fully oceanic, still both the ARGO and VELELLA performed well during operations in the Atlantic Ocean. Thus, the ARGO and the later TRITONE classes should be considered medium displacement submarines.

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