R. Smg. Alagi

The Alagi was a boat of the class Alagi, “600” series, type Bernardis, built by the CRDA shipyard of Monfalcone. It entered service on March 6th, 1937 and secretly took part in the Spanish Civil War, serving a single mission from 27 August to 4 September 1937, during which she sighted no suspicious ships.

The launch of the Alagi in Monfalcome on November 15th, 1936

On 10 June 1940, when Italy entered World War II, the boat was already on a mission off Cape Zebib (near Bizerte) and then south of Sardinia. In July he was sent between the Alborán Island and Gibraltar to attack the British Force H.

In September the boat operated in the south of Sardinia, between Cape Spartivento and the island of La Galite, then north of Philippeville and about thirty miles north of Bizerte. On 9 November 1940, in the afternoon, the boat left Cagliari and was sent off Galite together with four other submarines (including the similar boats Aradam and Axum) in opposition to the British operation “Coat”; there were no sightings.

On 14 November, the Alagi went out to sea again (together with the submarines Diaspro and Aradam) in opposition to another British operation, “White” tasked with the dispatch to Malta, by the aircraft carriers, of 14 aircraft.

On 5 June 1941 the Alagi was sent, under the command of Lieutenant Giulio Contreas, about twenty miles northeast of Ras Azzaz. The next day, early in the morning, Lieutenant Contres tried to attack a ship of modest dimensions that he had sighted on an eastward course.  However, sighted and attacked by an escort ship, he had to move away submerged. On 10 June, in the evening, he embarked on the return journey navigating on the surface, but on the morning of the 12th he was attacked by a Short S.25 Sunderland seaplane, which dropped two bombs and strafed the vessel, killing the sub-chief Paolo Nuzzo. the Alagi opened fire with the anti-aircraft armament and damaged the aircraft, which had to take evasive action.

On July 21st the Alagi left Cagliari to go to Cape Bougaroni, 55 miles off the coast, and patrol the area between the meridians 5° and 6° East, in contrast to the British operation “Substance” (a convoy to Malta): the following day having arrived in the patrol area, dove from time to time to carry out hydrophone surveys. On the 22nd, the crew spotted Force H but failed to attack, and was attacked with depth charges by the escort ships.

The Alagi with the later painting schema adopted later in the war

Between the end of July and the beginning of August, the submarine was sent, with three others, to the southwest of the Sardinian coast, between the parallels 37°30′ N and 37°50′ N and the meridian 5° E, to counter the British operation “Style” (supply convoy to Malta) but did not find any ships. On 8 August it was moved 25 miles northwest of Galite and from 22 to 28 about thirty miles southwest of Sardinia.

Sevel unsuccessful missions followed:

  • From October 17 on the 7° E meridian and from October 24 on the 6°E meridian;
  • In November and December at Cap de Fer;
  • From 3 January 1942, during Operation M 23, between 69 and 100 miles south-east of Malta;
  • In February north of Algeria and Tunisia with the death of a lookout dragged into the water by the waves of the rough sea;
  • In May north of the Strait of Sicily and south of the Egadi Islands.

During the evening of June 8, 1942, under the command of Lieutenant Sergio Puccini, the submarine, shortly after arriving in its sector of operations (twenty miles north of Cape Blanc), spotted a convoy sailing off Cape Bon: it was the Italian motor ship Vettor Pisani escorted by some units of the Regia Marina, which, however, Puccini believed to be enemy ships,  since he had not been informed of the presence of the convoy. The Alagi fired a barrage of three torpedoes at the nearest destroyer, the Antoniotto Usodimare: the ship was hit and sank rapidly. A very tragic case of friendly fire with the loss of 141 lives, while the remaining 165 crew members were rescued.

The destroyer – previously explorer – Usodimare

In mid-June 1942 the Alagi was sent to patrol north of Cape Blanc in opposition to the British convoy “Harpoon”, as part of the Battle of Mid-June. On 14 June, in the late afternoon hours, the crew spotted British ships near the Balearic Islands while part of the escort manoeuvred to let the merchant ships continue: the submarine tried several times to attack, but was always repelled by the escort; Only in the evening did it manage to get close enough to launch two torpedoes missing the target, an aircraft carrier.

In July 1942 it was sent to the eastern Mediterranean against a British convoys sailing between Middle Eastern and Egyptian bases, without results because there was no shortage of targets, but they were also protected by heavy escorts. On 9 July the crew spotted the Turkish tanker Antares (3,723 GRT) sailing under charter by the British authorities. Hit by two torpedoes, the ship sank at 34°59′ N and 35°32′ E,  while the Alagi moved away to avoid being attacked by the anti-submarine units that were patrolling the area.

On 11 August 1942 the Alagi was among the eleven submarines lying in ambush north of Tunisia, between Scoglio Fratelli and Banco Skerki, to attack a British convoy to Malta: it was the British operation “Pedestal”, which later resulted in the Battle of Mid-August. On 12 August, the crew spotted British units and, in the evening, approached the convoy, then launched a barrage of four torpedoes from the bow tubes.

At 21:12 a torpedo hit the light cruiser H.M.S. Kenya in the bow and a second one passed under the hull of the same unit without exploding: despite serious damage and casualties on board, the cruiser was able to continue escorting. Another torpedo hit the steamer Clan Fergusson (7,347 GRT), which had already been badly damaged by Luftwaffe air strikes, causing it to sink. It should be noted that other sources, however, attribute the sinking of the Fergusson Clan to the submarine Bronzo or to German torpedo bombers; still others attribute to the Alagi the sinking not of the Fergusson Clan, but of the motor ship Deucalion, which was sunk by German Heinkel He 111 torpedo bombers.

The Alagi at sea

On 8 November 1942, while navigating submerged in the waters off Tunisia the Alagi collided with another Italian submarine, the Jaspro, with serious damage to the turret: the crew had to reverse course and return to Naples.

In December it operated first between Cape Bougaroni, La Galite and Cap de Fer and then – from the 29th – near Bona.

This was followed by another series of uneventful missions:

  • In January 1943 northeast of Bona, between the meridians 4° E and 5° E;
  • From February to May in the south-west of Sardinia.
  • In July he was sent first to the south of Sardinia and then to the northwest of Sicily, passing through the Strait of Messina; At 6:13 a.m. on 16 July, at 37°02′ N and 15°55′ E, he spotted three enemy destroyers engaged in the search for submarines in the waters of Augusta and attacked them with the launch of three torpedoes: he heard a detonation, but, since there was no evidence, it is not possible to confirm that he had damaged any unit.

On 3 September 1943 he was sent to the Gulf of Salerno, and on the 7th, as part of the “Zeta” Plan to counter the planned Anglo-American landing in southern Italy (Salerno). It was assigned a patrol area (together with ten other submarines) in the Lower Tyrrhenian Sea, between the Gulf of Gaeta and the Gulf of Paola.

On September 9th, following the announcement of the armistice, the Alagi (which at that time was about sixty miles from Augusta, Sicily) headed for Malta where the boat arrived on September 16th, 1943, along with five other submarines, escorted by the destroyer H.M.S. Isis; there, the captain surrendered to the Allies. On October 13th, the Alagi left Malta and returned to Italy, as did fifteen other submarines.

In October, it was deployed to Haifa, where it was used for Allied anti-submarine exercises and for transporting supplies between the Aegean islands.  The Alagi returned to Taranto in December 1944 and spent the rest of the war there.

According to the clauses of the peace treaty, the unit should have been transferred to England. However, after the latter’s renunciation, the submarine, the only survivor of the 17 boats of its class, was sent to scrapping yard.

In all, Alagi had carried out 36 offensive-exploratory missions and 19 transfer missions, for a total of 31,350 miles of navigation on the surface and 5,379 submerged.

Operational Records

TypePatrols (Med.)Patrols (Other)NM SurfaceNM Sub.Days at SeaNM/DayAverage Speed
Submarine – Coastal55313505379286 128.42 5.35


6/22/194221.25T.V. Sergio PucciniMediterraneanCape BonTorpedoSankUsodimareDestroyer1943Italy
7/12/194220.04T.V. Sergio PucciniMediterranean34°59’N-35°32’ETorpedoSankAntaresSteam Freighter3723Turky
8/13/194221.05T.V. Sergio PucciniMediterranean37°28’N-10°38’EWS21.STorpedoSankClan FergusonSteam Freighter7347Great Britain

Crew Members Lost

Last NameFirst NameRankItalian Rank
LucchiniRenzoJunior ChiefSottocapo
NuzzoPaoloJunior ChiefSottocapo
TommasiGiuseppeJunior ChiefSottocapo