R. Smg. Faà Di Bruno

This submarine (commonly called FAA DI BRUNO) was one of the two boats (the other one was the Smg. COMMANDER CAPPELLINI) of the class MARCELLO “improved”. They were both built by the O.T.O. shipyard of Muggiano (La Spezia) between 1938 and 1939, and were named after two Italian Captains who fought in the battle of Lissa.

The FAA DI BRUNO the day of its launch, June 18th, 1939
(Photo Turrini)

The FAA DI BRUNO the day of its launch, June 18th, 1939.
(Photo Turrini)
The FAA DI BRUNO was laid down on April 28th, 1938, launched on June 18th, 1939, and delivered to the Regia Marina on October 23rd, 1939.

Operational Life

Upon Italy’s entry into World War II (June 10th, 1940), the FAA DI BRUNO, under the command of the Lieutenant Aldo ENRICI, was assigned to the 12th Squadron of 1st the Submarine division based in La Spezia.

After two missions in the Mediterranean (from the 10th to the 16th of June and from the 15th to the 23rd of July 1940, off the coast of Oran), the boat was destined to operate in Atlantic. Assigned to BETASOM, the Command of the Italian Submarine base of Bordeaux, the FAA DI BRUNO departed La Spezia on August 28th, 1940 and crossed the Strait of Gibraltar between the 2nd and the 3rd of September. Strong submarine currents troubled the underwater crossing; with the sounding apparatus damaged, the boat twice sank to 140 meters crawling on the bottom, but fortunately without damages.

Having crossed the strait, the boat moved to its patrol area south of the Azores, where it remained from the 8th to the 24th of September. During this period, it made five sightings, three of which were followed by attacks, damaging vessels on the 8th and the 19th. On the 9th, the British tanker AURIS of 8,000 t. was also damaged. This ship was destined to become victim of an Italian submarine: on June 28th, 1941 it was sunk with four torpedoes by the Smg. DA VINCI (Lieutenant Ferdinando Calda), just North of Madeira. On September 24th, the boat left the patrol area navigating to Bordeaux where it arrived on October 5th, 1940.

October 5th, 1940:TheTORELLI and the FAA DI BRUNO arrive in Bordeaux
(Photo U.S.M.M.)

On the 31st of October, the FAA DI BRUNO departed for its first, and unfortunately only mission in the Atlantic, patrolling west of Scotland. It was assigned the zone between 57°20’N and 58°20 N, west of the 20° meridian west. It should have re-entered on the 5th of January 1941.

After the departure all contacts with the boat were lost. The causes of its loss are still unknown. The enemy could have sunk it, but it could have also succumbed to a breakdown, possibly due to the rough sea, which in that season plagues the North Atlantic; or due to an internal fault, such as the explosion of hydrogen gas from the batteries. We do not even know if the boat ever reached the assigned patrol area.

Based on British documentation, in the post-war period it was possible to attribute the sinking of the FAA DI BRUNO to the British destroyer HMS HAVELOCK, which reported having attacked, on November 8th in position 56°01’N, 17°50’W, a submerged submarine and having seen broken off pieces, air bubbles, and fuel emerge.

Later, and considering that the events reported by the HAVELOCK had happened in a zone very distant from that which the FAA DI BRUNO would have crossed, a more accurate study of the positions and the events indicated that the boat attacked by the British vessel was the Smg. MARCONI. From this attack, the MARCONI had escaped almost unharmed.

Therefore, it is not even possible to define when this boat was lost and we have to conceal its loss under the generic and bureaucratic label “lost on an undefined date between October 31st, 1940 and January 5th, 1941”.

Translated by Cristiano D’Adamo