R. Smg. Ammiraglio Caracciolo

The submarine Ammiraglio Caracciolo was one of the boats of the ‘Ammiragli” class and did not enter service until almost a year after the beginning of the conflict.  Launched on October 16th, 1940 by the CRDA shipyard of Monfalcone it was delivered to the Regia Marina on May 1st, 1941. Crew training continued until December of the same year.

The Caracciolo still under construction in Monfalcone

By virtue of its large size – it was an oceanic submarine – it was used to transport materials to North Africa despite the fact that it was a risky and low-yielding service. A clear indication of the already struggling supply line between the continent and the North African front.

Lieutenant Commander Alfredo Musotto

On December 8th, 1941, the Caracciolo departed Taranto for her first mission, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Alfredo Musotto, with 122 tons of gasoline in 7,000 tins of 20 liters each,16.5 tons of ammunition, 1.6 ton of food supplies bound for Libya. Captain Musotto had previously served aboard the Malaspina and Otaria and thus was an experienced commander. Off Sollum (alternative spelling Sallum, and Egyptian town at the border with Libya) the submarine was strafed by a British aircraft with one casualty (Ensign Milos Baucer) but supposedly was able to shoot down the airplane.   

The Caracciolo with the mimetic painting

Subsequently attacked by naval units, Captain Musotto dove to 80 meters and avoided their intense hunt. On December 10th, the Caracciolo reached Bardia, where she quickly unloaded the cargo and then departed later that day, with the crew also Italian and German soldiers (mainly Bersaglieri and Carabinieri officers) on board to be transported to the Island of Suda where she would eventually load other supplies. There is a report that the Caracciolo may also have been transporting 22 British POWs, however this is most probably mistaken.

In the early hours of December 11th, about 30 miles from Bardia (alternative spelling Bardiyah), the Caracciolo sighted a British convoy – it was convoy T.A. 2 convoy consisting of the small steamer Darien II (459 GRT, built 1892), escorted by the destroyer H.M.S. Farndale – bound for Alessandria. At 2:40 AM the Caracciolo went on the attack by launching two torpedoes from the stern tubes against the merchant ship, missing it, and then two more from the bow tubes, against the destroyer. The British escort vessel dodged the torpedoes by counter maneuvering.

H.M.S. Farndale

The submarine submerged, but the British units began to bombard it with depth charges. The Caracciolo dove to a depth of 160 meters (this is questionable, but possible) but, badly damaged, had to surface. Once on the surface, it was immediately hit by the fire of the Farndale which mowed down the gunners and machine gunners and compromised the survival of the unit. Scuttling procedures were started and shortly afterwards – it was about three o’clock in the morning – while the survivors abandoned ship. The Caracciolo disappeared into a very rough sea in position 32º09′ N and 25º19′ E, just off Ras Bu Wushayyikah.

Of the crew, 48 men disappeared at sea (15 members of the crew of the Caracciolo, including Captain Musotto, 4 non-commissioned officers and 10 sub-chiefs and sailors along with 33 passengers), while 53 survivors were rescued and captured by the Farndale. This was one of the most blatant waste of resources and human lives having the Italian Navy utilized a submarine designed for oceanic operations to transport material and personnel.

Operational Records

Patrols (Med.)Patrols (Other)NM SurfaceNM Sub.Days at SeaNM/DayAverage Speed
61445728 189.63 7.90

Actions

DateTimeCaptainAreaCoordinatesConvoyWeaponResultShipTypeTonnsFlag
12/11/19412:40T.V. Alfredo MusottoMediterranean32°09’N-25°19’ETorpedoFailedDarienSteam Freighter459Great Britain
12/11/19412:40T.V. Alfredo MusottoMediterranean32°09’N-25°19’ETorpedoFailedH.M.S. FarndaleDestroyer1050Great Britain

Crew Members Lost

Last NameFirst NameRankItalian RankDate
AlibertiSabatoChief 1st ClassCapo di 1a Classe12/11/1941
BaucerMilosEnsignGuardiamarina12/11/1941
BerràGiuseppeSublieutenant G.N.Tenente G.N.12/11/1941
BragagnoloMarioJunior ChiefSottocapo12/11/1941
BregaglioGuidoSergeantSergente12/11/1941
CarusoAntonioJunior ChiefSottocapo12/11/1941
CiavattonePanfilioJunior ChiefSottocapo12/11/1941
ConsoloEnricoJunior ChiefSottocapo12/11/1941
CoslovichAlbinoJunior ChiefSottocapo12/11/1941
FerrariPalmiroChief 2nd ClassCapo di 2a Classe12/11/1941
FungiMartinoJunior ChiefSottocapo12/11/1941
GaribottiGiuseppeChief 3rd ClassCapo di 3a Classe12/11/1941
LetoOnoratoJunior ChiefSottocapo12/11/1941
MenettoBrunoNaval RatingComune12/11/1941
MusottoAlfredoLieutenant CommanderCapitano di Corvetta12/11/1941
ScarpantoniEttoreJunior ChiefSottocapo12/11/1941
UttaroOsvaldoNaval RatingComune12/11/1941