The Argento was a Class Platino (also known as “Metalli”, or metals), “600” series, Type Bernardis coastal submarine (displacement of 712 tons on the surface and 865 tons submerged). Laid down at the Tosi shipyard of Taranto on April 30th, 1941, it did not enter service until May 16th, 1942. Lieutenant Commander Giuseppe Vocaturo assumed command until July of the same year proving for initial crew training.
The submarine Argento
In September, 1942, the boat was sent out on its first war patrol, along with the Nichelio, under the command of Lieutenant Giovanni Tarabini Castellani. The boat reached the assigned patrol area south of the Balearic Island where it remained until October 11th. Upon returning, it sighted two units estimated to be corvettes which could not be attacked since the Argento itself had been probably been spotted.
Another patrol followed in November when the Argento was deployed as part of a barrage of 16 submarines to contrast the Allies’ landing in North Africa near the Algerian coastline. The boat remained in the originally assigned area (B) until the 11th. On the 14th, it penetrated the Philippeville’s outer harbor, however it was not able to engage any target. On the 18th, the boat was ordered back to base.
Engine repaired, the boat under the command of Lieutenant Renato Frascolla was again on patrol reaching the assigned area on January 22nd along with the Dandolo to contrast Operation Torch. The assigned area, between Cape Carbon and Cape Bougaroni, was already being patrolled by the Avorio and Malachite. The night of the 21st, the Argento was attacked by an enemy aircraft that attempted to strife the boat many a times, but it was repelled by the fire of the boat’s Breda antiaircraft guns. Soon after, at 04:00 AM of the 22nd, in position 37°58’N, 06°15’E, another aerial attack followed and it included the dropping of bombs. This time, the enemy aircraft, repeatedly hit by the Bredas, was seen catching fire and crashing. On the 24th, the boat was ordered back to base.
In February, the Argento was again sent out on patrol to fill in the gap left by the sinking of the Asteria which, on the 17th, had fallen victim of H.M.S. Easton. On the 18th, a convoy was sighted but the Argento could not attack.
In April, the boat was deployed as part of a barrage extending 80 miles along the 08°E meridian, between 38°40’N and 40°00’N. The barrage included the Brin, Platino, and Giada. However, that area did not see any enemy activity.
The Argento in port
In June, the boat was off the Algerian coastline arriving on the 20th positioning itself near the Island of La Galite. The night of the 30th, the boat entered the outer harbor of Philippeville without conducting any mentionable action.
In July, starting on the 11th, the Argento was assigned to a barrage composed of 8 boats stretching from Cape de Fer and the Island of S. Antioco (Sardinia) along the 07°30E meridian. However, a breakdown forced the vessel back to base. Issue solved, the boat was again on patrol to contrast traffic from Sirte and Malta to Sicily. On the 23rd, while crossing the Strait of Messina, it was targeted by an enemy submarine with the launched of three torpedoes which were skillfully avoided.
With Operation Husky – the landing in Sicily – fully underway the Argento was moved from south of Catania to the southern part of Sicily possibly reaching all the way to the Gulf of Sirte. Without having been able to sight any enemy traffic, the commanding office, Lieutenant Leo Masina, began the return voyage to base. On August 2nd, at around 10:55 PM, while navigating on the surface about 5 miles off the Island of Pantelleria, a destroyer and three other units were sighted at a very short distance.
USS Buck (DD420)
Seeking shelter in the depths of the sea, the Argento was immediately targeted by an intense drop of depth charges some of which caused serious damage. The resistant hull was compromised, and water started entering the boat. Forced to the surface, the Argento was immediately targeted by intense gunfire and thus scuttling procedures were hastened. The American destroyer USS Buck (DD-420) rescued most of the crewmembers; a few had died during the attack. The Argento dove one final time at around 00:30 Am of August 3rd reaching its resting place.
Crewmembers of the Argento aboard USS Buck performing the burial at sea of one of their fallen comrades
(US National Archives)
USS Buck glory would last only a few weeks, until October 9th, 1943, when it fell victim of U-616 off Salerno.
|Days at Sea
Crew Members Lost