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Warship Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019: The Red-Shirted Scourge of the Ottomans

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019: The Red-Shirted Scourge of the Ottomans

Colorized photo by Atsushi Yamashita/Monochrome Specter

Here we see the Italian Royal Navy (Regia Marina) armored cruiser (incrociatore corazzato), Giuseppe Garibaldi around 1904. She had a curious, if brief career, and could be taken as a bridge between 19th and 20th Century naval warfare, as she tangled with both Civil War-era ironclads and deadly U-boats.

Garibaldi came from a large and interesting class of cruiser designed by Edoardo Masdea, with good speed for the 1900s (19 knots), decent armor (up to 6-inches in sections) and a hybrid armament of one 10-inch gun forward and two 8-inch guns aft, along with a varied mix of casemate guns of all types, a quartet of torpedo tubes, and a ram bow.

They were handsome ships, with orders quickly made within a decade from Argentina, Italy, Spain and Japan (who picked up two from Argentina’s contract). As a twist of fate, the first delivered was to Argentina, who named their new cruiser, ARA Garibaldi, after the famous Italian red-shirt-wearing patriot. This have the twist that, at the same time in the 1900s, Rome and Buenos Aries both operated sisterships with the same name.

The class-leading Argentine ARA Garibaldi, Photographed by A. Noack of Genoa, probably at Naples or Genoa before her departure for Argentina. Note that the ship does not appear to be flying any flags at all. Description: Catalog #: NH 88672 Colourised by Diego Mar

Further, the first Italian-service Garibaldi was sold before entering the fleet to the Spanish, who were eager for new warships to unsuccessfully defend their overseas Empire from Uncle Sam in 1897, thus making our subject Garibaldi the third such ship of the same class to carry the name.

To help visualize the mess, here is the fortune-cookie-sized-overview of name, country, chronological order year, with our feature ship *asterisked to keep her straight:

-ARA Garibaldi ordered from Argentina 1895
-ARA General Belgrano from Argentina 1895
-ARA Pueyrredón from Argentina 1895
-ARA San Martín from Argentina 1895
-Giuseppe Garibaldi for Regia Marina 1895, sold to Spain as Cristóbal Colón 1897 (sunk 1898)
-Pedro de Aragon, ordered for Spain 1897, canceled 1898
-*Giuseppe Garibaldi for Regia Marina 1898
-Varese for Regia Marina 1898
-Francesco Ferruccio for Regia Marina 1899
-ARA Bernardino Rivadavia from Argentina 1901, sold to Japan as Kasuga 1903
-ARA Mariano Moreno from Argentina 1901, sold to Japan as Nisshin 1903

Our vessel was constructed at Gio. Ansaldo & C., Genoa, and commissioned 1 January 1901 and, soon joined by her two twin sisters in Italian service, Varese and Ferruccio, were a common sight in the deep-water ports of the Mediterranean from Alexandria to Gibraltar and back, often serving as division flagships.

Garibaldi in her original scheme, by late 1901 she carried a more muted grey scheme

It was while carrying the flag of RADM (later Grand Admiral/Naval Minister) Thaon di Revel, that Garibaldi joined in the naval bombardment of Ottoman-held Tripoli just four days into the Italo-Turkish War in October 1911. She sent a company-sized landing force ashore, one of the first modern Italian marine ops, to disable the Turkish big guns at Fort Hamidiye. It was part of a much larger assault, one of the most unsung in amphibious warfare history, and would leave the Italians in control of Libya until 1943.

Italian Navy landing companies landing on the beach of Tripoli, October 1911 under the guns of Garibaldi and the rest of the fleet. The naval battalions would be followed by a Bersaglieri regiment, and ultimately the Italians would put a corps-sized force of 30,000 ashore that month. Source Garyounis University, ” The Martyr Omar al-Mukhtar Festival: Catalogue of Exhibition”, Arabic-English version, Benghazi, 1979, P.23. via Wiki Commons

Still under Revel, Garibaldi and her two sisters would go on to give the Turks grief off Tobruk, in Syria, and the Dardanelles, as well as in the Aegean and the Levant. The biggest tangle of these would be in Ottoman-held Beirut. On 24 February 1912, Garibaldi and Ferruccio sailed into the Lebanese harbor and engaged a Turkish torpedo boat Ankara and the old ironclad Avnillah.

Italian cruisers Ferruccio and Garibaldi, bombarding Gunboat Avnillah & Torpedo boat Angora/Ankara in Beirut Harbour, Feb. 24, 1912

Built in England in 1869, the 2,300-ton central battery gunboat had fought in the Russo-Turkish War some 35 years previously and, while her original black powder muzzleloaders had been replaced with modern German Krupp 5.9-inchers, she had been stationary for a decade.

Avnillah, in better days.

In the end, it was no contest and Garibaldi started the engagement with her 10- and 8-inch guns at 6,000 yards then moved in to finish off the old ironclad with a brace of Whitehead torpedoes at close range. Avnillah, rolled over and settled on the harbor floor, ablaze, losing half her crew. Ferruccio, meanwhile, accounted for Ankara. During the fracas, several civilian craft were also damaged while hundreds of the city’s residents were killed or injured. The Italians suffered no injuries and sailed away to leave the locals to pick up the pieces.

Avnillah’s hulk was still visible inside the harbor mole four years later when the Royal Navy raided Beirut during the Great War.

Beirut, Lebanon. A seaplane of the R.N.A.S. Port Said Squadron obtaining hits with two 60-pound bombs during World War I. The wreck in the harbor is the Turkish Ironclad AVN-I ILAH, sunk on February 24, 1912, by the Italian Cruisers GARIBALDI and VARESE. NH 42779

NH 42780

Speaking of WWI, Italy was officially an Austro-German ally on paper as part of the so-called Triple Alliance but entered the conflict tardy and on the other side, which gave both Vienna and Berlin a bit of heartburn. On 23 May 1915, nine months into the war, Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary followed by declarations of war on the Turks that August, Bulgaria in October, and Germany in 1916.

Just three weeks into Italy’s war against the Austrians, on 17 July 1915 a group of warships under the command of RADM Trifari, whose flag flew from Garibaldi, sailed from Brindisi on a mission to interdict the railway line between Sarajevo and Herceg Novi by shelling the railroads at Dubrovnik.

While offshore of Croatian coast near Molunat, the task force was discovered in the early morning of 18 July by the Germaniawerft-made U-3-class submarine SM U-4, commanded by Linienschiffleutnant Rudolf von Singule of the K.u.K. Kriegsmarine. Singule, who had previously managed to put a fish into the British RN cruiser HMS Dublin without sinking her, was luckier when he pumped a torpedo into Garibaldi and she sank reportedly in minutes, taking 53 of her crew with her.

Her sinking became memorialized in maritime art of the era.

The Sinking of the Italian Cruiser Giuseppe Garibaldi, Painting, Gouache on Paper; By Charles Malfroy; 1915; Unframed NHHC Accession #: 70-671-D

Austrian propaganda painting of her loss, via Wiki Commons

Garibaldi’s flag was saved, as were 90 percent of her crew, and has for generations been a treasured relic of the Italian navy. Today it is held on public display at the Sacrario delle Bandiere del Vittoriano in Rome.

Via Wiki Commons

Of Singule, the Austrian who slew the mighty Italian flagship, he chalked up 22,000 tons of shipping while in the K.u.K and was recalled to serve in the German Kriegsmarine in WWII in a training role. He was reportedly “killed attempting to protect a woman from drunken Soviet soldiers on a street in Brünn (Brno, Czech Republic) five days before the German surrender,” in 1945.

Today, Garibaldi is at 122m just off the coast of Croatia, making her an advanced but reachable dive.

As for her 10 sisters, the Spanish Pedro de Aragon was never built while Cristóbal Colón was sunk by the Americans in the Spanish-American War. The Americans likewise sunk the Japanese Kasuga in 1945, which had long been turned into a training hulk, while the IJN Nisshin was expended in the 1930s as a test target. Of the Italian sisters, both survived WWI and served as training ships for naval cadets until they were replaced by the purpose-built sail training ships Amerigo Vespucci and Cristoforo Colombo. The original four Argentine sisters endured in one form or another through the 1930s with ARA Pueyrredón even remaining in the fleet till 1954, at which point she was pushing 60.

ARA Pueyrredon in Dublin in 1951. At this point, this pre-SpanAm War era vet was pushing her into her sixth decade at sea.

The name “Garibaldi,” naturally, was reissued to the downright lucky WWII-era Duca degli Abruzzi-class light cruiser Garibaldi (551), and, since 1985, to the 14,000-ton harrier carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi (C-551), both of which also served as fleet flagships.

Italian Navy ITS Giuseppe Garibaldi (C-551) with nine AV-8B Harrier II and one Sea King in the flight deck carrier


Displacement: 7,350 tons, full load 8,100 tons
Length: 366 ft
Beam: 59 ft
Draft: 24 ft.
Engine 2 triple vertical expansion steam engines, 24 Niclausse cylindrical boilers, 14,713 ihp (trials), 2 propellers
Speed: 19.7 knots
Range 5,500 miles at 10 knots on 1,200 tons of coal
Crew: 555
1×1 254 mm/40 caliber
1×2 203 mm/45 caliber
14 152 mm/40 caliber
10 76 mm/40 caliber
6 Hotchkiss Mk I 47mm/50 caliber 3-pdrs
2 Maxim MG
4 17.7-inch torpedo tubes
Armor, hardened steel, Harvey system:
bridge from 38 to 50 mm.
belt from 50 to 150 mm.
50 mm batteries.
turrets from 100 to 150 mm.
tower from 50 to 150 mm

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Baby Torp

While I knew that the SEALs had a program to use surplus old 1,400-pound Mark 37 (NT37) homing ASW torpedoes in an anti-ship role to zap enemy warships in coastal/harbor raids via a hand-launch, I never knew the Navy had a dedicated Swimmer Launched Charge program. Apparently, this 1970s experimental small torpedo looked pretty elaborate. Photos via the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum.

Warship Wednesday, Sep 11, 2019: The Leader of the Pack

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Sep 11, 2019: The Leader of the Pack

Photographed by LaTour, Philadelphia. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 41956

Here we see the small crew of an early H (Holland) class diesel-electric “submarine torpedo boat” USS H-1 (SS-28), originally known as the first USS Seawolf, at the Naval Submarine Base New London, Groton, Connecticut, circa 1919. Crew complement of these vessels was just two officers and two dozen men.

Built by the Union Iron Works of San Francisco, California as an improvement to the Holland 602 type, Seawolf had a staggering 70~ sisters that were ordered not only by the U.S. Navy (H-1 through H-9) but also by the navies of Imperial Russia and the British Commonwealth. With a submerged displacement of about 450-tons, these were small boats, going just 150.25-feet long overall.

USS H-1 (Submarine # 28) and USS H-2 (Submarine # 29) Fitting out at the Union Iron Works, San Francisco, California, 7 October 1913. NH 66740

With a hybrid powerplant of New London Ship & Engine Co (NELSECO) diesels and Electro Dynamic electric motors, they were fast for their time, able to make 14 knots when surfaced. Likewise, they had a 2,300nm range on their meager 11,800-gal fuel bunker, a 200-foot test depth, and could remain underwater on their two 60-cell Gould batteries traveling 100 nm at 5 knots.

H Boat Cell (H-1 to H-3) at the Gould Storage Battery Company, Buffalo, New York. Each of these early boats carried 120 such cells in two batteries. NH 115013

As for armament, they carried no deck guns due to their limited size but had space reserved to tote eight torpedoes (four in their forward 18-inch tubes and four reloads).

The torpedo room of USS H-5 in 1919. The breeches of the four 18-inch (457 mm) torpedo tubes are at the center. The tubes themselves had rotating exterior bow caps rather than doors. Scanned from Page 304 of Friedman, Norman, U.S. Submarines Through 1945: An Illustrated Design History, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1995 via Wiki Commons.

The first three vessels were ordered before the Great War and were originally to have kick-ass predator/fish names (as was common for the U.S. Navy at the time, with early boats bestowed such enviable monikers as USS Tarantula and USS Viper) but this changed gears while they were still underway. Therefore, instead of the planned USS Seawolf, Nautilus and Garfish, we simply got USS H-1, H-2 and H-3, a naming convention that would continue through the follow-on K, L, M, N, O, R, and S-class boats until the nine V-class subs under construction in 1931 were renamed for fish, a practice that carried on through the 1970s..

Nonetheless, the three Hs were a relative unknown in the 1914 Jane’s:

USS H-1 (Submarine No. 28) commissioned 1 December 1913, and she and her two sisters were attached to the 2nd Torpedo Flotilla, Pacific Fleet, operating along the West Coast out of San Pedro, ranging from Los Angeles to lower British Columbia.

Old photo found in estate collection of SS-28 and SS-29 (H-1 and H-2 respectively) moored in Coos Bay, Oregon sometime between 1914-17, via Wiki Commons. Note their early canvas topside protection. 

USS H-1 (Submarine # 28) Off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 30 January 1914. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1969. Catalog #: NH 69853

USS H-1 (Submarine # 28) Off Long Beach, California, circa 1914. USS Stewart (Destroyer # 13) is underway in the background. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1972. NH 76006

Considered poor open ocean boats, the H-class were not very successful in U.S. service, with the later flight (H-4 through H-9) only acquired as they had already been built for the Tsar who, after 1917, was no longer signing the checks for Mother Russia. Nonetheless, with Uncle Sam entering the war, they were all pressed into use as training boats.


“H-1 set out from San Pedro on 17 October 1917, and reached New London, Conn., 22 days later via Acapulco, Mexico, Balboa, Panama Canal Zone, Key West, Fla., Charleston, S.C., and Philadelphia, Pa. For the remainder of the war, she operated from there and patrolled Long Island Sound, frequently with officer students from the submarine school on board.”

USS H-1 (Submarine # 28) Off the Naval Submarine Base New London, Groton, Connecticut, circa 1919. Photographed by LaTour, NH 41954

Another view, same time and place NH 41955

When the war ended, H-1 and H-2 set off for their return trip to the West Coast via the Panama Canal– and they almost made it too.

On 12 March 1920, H-1 grounded in a storm off Santa Margarita Island, Baja California. Four men, including her skipper, LCDR. James R. Webb (USNA 1913), perished in the heavy surf during the effort to reach dry land as H-2 narrowly avoided the same fate.

While the repair ship USS Vestal (AR-4) two weeks later pulled the stricken submarine off the rocks, H-1 rapidly sank in 50 feet of water and her hulk was abandoned. The Navy drew a name through her entry on the Navy List on 12 April 1920, and her remains were sold where-is/as-is to scrappers a few months later. However, it doesn’t seem that said salvors were very successful.

The rest of her class in U.S. service were all much luckier, and, decommissioned in 1922, were laid up and sold for junk a decade later.

Meanwhile, the Italians and Russians had their own 19 boats, with the latter losing five in the Baltic in 1918 to avoid having the Germans capture them and continued to operate these American submersibles for years. The Soviets still had five in their Black Sea Fleet when the Germans came back in 1941, losing two during WWII. As a side note, some of the lost Tsarist subs were raised by the Finns who attempted unsuccessfully to get them working while at least one was used by White Russian Gen. Wrangel’s fleet until 1922 when it was handed over to the French for scrapping.

As for H-1s 40+ British sisters, they were produced at the Canadian Vickers Yards in Montreal, Fore River in Massachusetts, and a host of yards in the UK proper. Three were lost during WWI. A fourth, HMS H-6 (the British coincidentally used the same inspired H-series names as the USN boats) was interned in Holland in 1916 and sold to the Dutch who used her as HNLMS O 8 until WWII when the Germans captured her and later scuttled the well-traveled boat in 1945. Many of the rest of the boats lived on after Versailles as training craft and four were lost in accidents in the 1920s, as is the nature of student drivers. Nine continued to see WWII service with the Royal Navy, where two more were lost in action.

In addition to the British RN H-class units, the Canadians fielded two (CH-14 and CH-15) briefly and six went to Chile as the Guacolda-class, where they continued in service until as late as 1949, the last H-class boats in operation.

From the 1946 Jane’s:

As it stands today, H-1 could be the best remembered and most accessible of this huge class of early submarines. Lost in shallow water off Baja California, and technically not a gravesite as the bluejackets lost in her grounding died on the effort to reach the beach, her bones have often been visited over the past century.

Most recently, in 2016, locals from nearby Puerto Alcatraz rediscovered the wreck, sparking a drive by Mexican authorities of the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) to move in and survey the vessel.

Time has not been kind and the stern is reportedly full of sand while most of her pressure hull has collapsed. Still, the offices of INAH, in conjunction with the U.S Navy’s NHHC, are recovering what they can for preservation and documentation.

Since her loss, the Navy has never commissioned another H-1, but there have been three subsequent USS Seawolf (s) since 1939, all hard-serving submarines.


H-1 (SS-28) showing Profile Inboard; Profile Outboard, Midship Arrangement & Booklet of General Plans. National Archives Identifier: 55302488

358 long tons (364 t) surfaced
467 long tons (474 t) submerged
Length: 150 ft 4 in
Beam: 15 ft 10 in
Draft: 12 ft 5 in
Installed power:
950 hp (710 kW) (diesel engines)
600 hp (450 kW) (electric motors)
2 × NELSECO diesel engines 950 hp
2 × Electro Dynamic electric motors (450 kW)
2 × 60-cell batteries
2 × shafts
14 knots surfaced
10.5 knots submerged
2,300 nm at 11 knots surfaced
100 nm at 5 knots submerged
Test depth: 200 ft
Complement: 25 officers and men
4 × 18-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes
8 × torpedoes

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find.

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Minerve families get closure

The French Daphné-class SSK Minerve (S647) was still a relatively brand new boat when she was lost off Toulon in 1968, having been commissioned less than four years previously. She took 52 submariners for their final dive to a depth of 2,370m and has been on eternal patrol, whereabouts unknown, for the past half-century.

Now, the survivors of her last crew, to include a long-suffering widow interviewed below, are closer to finding out exactly what happened, and at least have a set of coordinates to mark in their family ledger.

West Pac metal pirates strike again

The illegal scrappers of the Malaccan Straits and Sea of Java, in the search for cheap “low background steel,” have notoriously broken many of the venerated shipwrecks of the 1942 naval clashes of the area to include desecrating the graves of the Royal Navy’s E-class destroyers, HMS Electra and HMS Encounter, along with the heavy cruiser HMS Exeter (of Graf Spee fame). The Royal Netherlands Navy’s cruisers HNLMS De Ruyter, HNLMS Java, and HNLMS Kortenaer were likewise plundered, with some wrecks reportedly disappearing completely.

American and Japanese ships have similarly been vandalized.

Many of these ships have simply vanished from the seafloor, to include the human remains resting inside their compartments for 70 years.

“We often found the bones,” an Indonesian ship breaker told The Guardian in 2018. “We worked here all the time, so we didn’t pay attention to them, whether there was bones or no bones, it made no difference to us.”

“There were plenty of human skeletons inside that ship. They gathered them, put them in a sack, and buried them here. I think there were four sacks,” another man told the Guardian. “Like the ones used to carry rice.”

Closer to Singapore, Malaysian junkers have hit the wrecks of HMS Repulse, HMS Prince of Wales (of Bismarck fame), as well as HMS Tien Kwang and HMS Kuala.

Add to this list, according to Dutch media, are the lost submarines HNLMS O 16 and HNLMS K XVII, along with the 79 men they carried.

At the start of the war in the Pacific, the Netherlands had at least 15 submarines based at Surabaya in the Dutch East Indies (O-16, O-19, O-20, K-VII, K-VIII, K-IX, K-X, K-XI, K-XII, K-XIII, K-XIV, K-XV, K-XVI, K-XVII, and K-XVIII.) While they fought hard against the Japanese and got a lot of licks in, O-16, O-20, K-XVI, and K-XVII were all lost early in the conflict while K-VII was later sunk in harbor by Japanese bombs, and K-X, K-XIII, and K-XVIII was scuttled at Surabaya to prevent their capture.

Many of these lost onderzeeboten are now gone in every sense of the word.

Dutch minelayer HNLMS Medusa and HMNLS K 17 in 1940-41 via Dutch Archives. (Mijnenlegger Hr. Ms. Medusa en de onderzeeboot Hr. Ms. K 17 c. 1940-1941)

Now more than ever, the expression “On a sailor’s grave, there are no roses blooming (Auf einem Seemannsgrab, da blühen keine Rosen)” remains valid.

A 1.2 million mile Sapphire

The French Marine Nationale has long been a fan of naming submarines after gemstones. One of these, Saphir, has been exceptionally popular.

The first French sous-marin Saphir was an Émeraude-class submarine launched in 1908 and was famously scuttled after running aground while trying to force the Turkish Straits in 1915 during the Gallipoli Campaign.

Émeraude-class submarine Saphir in port in Toulon, circa 1910

The second Saphir was the lead ship of her class of six submarines built for the French Navy in the mid-1930s. Captured by the Germans in 1942 and transferred to the Italians, she too was later scuttled to avoid capture.

The third Saphir was the successful WWII British RN submarine S-class submarine, HMS Satyr (P214) which was loaned to the French from 1952 to 62.

The fourth Saphir, and thus far most successful, is a Rubis-class nuclear attack submarine (sous-marin nucléaire d’attaque) commissioned on 6 July 1984. After deployments around the world, SNA Saphir (S602) has traveled 1.2 million miles and spent some 120,000 hours submerged. She decommissioned 6 July 2019– her 35th birthday– and the French Navy has released an amazing series of photos of her.

Enjoy, and Vive la France!

A curious mini-sub in the news again

So in the past week, this bad boy caused a stir in California’s Monterey Bay:


Some were concerned it was a narco-sub or possibly a spy boat or something, as there aren’t a lot of privately owned manned submersibles in circulation. Turns out, it is noting nefarious and is part of a crowdfunded Community Submarines project to get people into man-in-the-sea activities, which is admirable.

As for the boat itself, currently dubbed Noctiluca, it is the old British-built U.S. Submarines S-101, a 32-foot, two-person diesel-electric mini-submersible with a decent performance (range of 200 miles when surfaced, can dive for 72 hrs, 300+ foot operating depth/1250 ft. crush depth due to its 10 mm thick A43 steel pressure hull) built back in 1987.

If she looks familiar, she was used on a contract for the Royal Swedish Navy through the 1990s to serve as an OPFOR of sorts for that country’s coastal forces, mimicking Russian frogmen boats.

Then, in 1998, the Sea Shepherds (Whale Wars) guys picked it up cheap ($225K) from a Norwegian seller and, given a killer whale-style scheme, was intended to harass various fishing enterprises.

Passing into private hands in 2004, it has been up for sale off and on, most recently in Florida for about $80K.

It even showed up in a 2013 episode (S01E06) of the snorable cop show Graceland on the USA network:

Graceland Narco sub

Actor Manny Montana afloat in S-101, when it dressed up like a narco sub, in a 2013 episode of Graceland.

Either way, nice to see it still poking around.

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