|Regio Smg SCIRE'|
The Scirè submarine, under prince Junio Valerio Borgheses
control was the best in "approaching"
the Italian assault crafts. It was built between 1937-38
at the O.T.O. Shipyard and followed the 600
Class-"Adua" Series constructing scheme (also
said "Africano"), although the nine
submarines made that shipyard had some differences
compared to the C.R.D.A and Tosi' shipyards.
was assigned to the First Submarines Group, the 15th
Squadron based in La Spezia; at the beginning of the war
the Scirè carried out some
attacks to the British shipping.
Immediately after this patrol the Commander
of the Scirè was
substituted and the submarine was modified to transport
the SLCs ("Siluro a Lenta Corsa" - slow running
torpedo, dubbed "maiale" pig - by the
crews of the Decima MAS Flotilla )
At the end of September the Scirè
was already operative, and on September 24 1940 it left
for the first mission (B.G.1) against Gibraltar.
The second attack to the fortress of
Gibraltar (mission BG2) was programmed for the new moon
As soon as the submarine Scirè
released into the sea the three SLCs it started
navigation again. In the night it crossed the Strait of
Gibraltar in submersion unseen by the British ships.
In the spring of 1941 the submarine is improved: the connig-tower is modified to make it less visible and the hull is coloured with the camouflage scheme used in the Mediterranean by the other Italian submarines.
On the new moon in May, the men of Decima
MAS organized the third assault to Gibraltar with
the submarine Scirè.
On the evening of May 15 1941 Scirè
leaves La Spezia and on May 22, after eluding the control
of the Strait of Gibraltar, emerges in the Atlantic.
At the dawn of May 24 the Scirè leaves unseen Cadige harbour and goes up along the bay of Algerias reaching the pre-arranged point (mouth of the river Guadarranque) near Gibraltar harbour.
Due to the bad weather, the release of the
three SLC's is performed in the night of May 26. In the
meantime the Scirè was
informed from Rome that the British war ships had left on
a mission and therefore the Gibraltar harbour was
deprived of some principal objectives of the Italian
At 24 the three SLCs are detached from the Scirè, and the submarine
begins the disengagement manoeuvre .
for the sixth time the Strait of Gibraltar and returns on
May 31 1941 to La Spezia.
Despite the failures, the "Decima MAS Flotilla" organizes a fourth attack on the base of Gibraltar (BG4) at the new moon September 1941. The mission includes the same routes and formality of attack of the previous attempt.
On September 10 Scirè leaves La Spezia favoured by obscurity. While the submarine sails in the Mediterranean the team composed by ten operators of the SLCs reaches the city of Cadige by air and hides in the Italian oil-tanker Fulgor. On September 18, at night, the Scirè emerges silently near the Italian ship and in a few minutes the operators of the "Decima MAS Flotilla" they enter inside the submarine.
On September 19, 1941: Scirè sights on his route a convoy bound to the Atlantic, but the commander Borghese succeeds in not being seen by the escort destroyers. In the night of 19 the submarine goes up the Bay of Algerias. It stops at the mouth of the river Guadarranque and stays at 10 meters depth. After the watertight containers have been flooded, the frogmen come out from the submarine and put their SLCs into operation.
At 01,07 of September 20 the three "pigs " leave the submarine and set out toward the roadstead of Gibraltar. After rescuing the three backup operators that had collaborated at the departure of the three SLCs the "Scirè" immediately began the diversionary manoeuvre. Distant echoes of explosions were heard at the hydrophones of the submarine during navigation. They were roars of victory: the three SLC's had in fact overcome the obstructions and the MAS's frogmen had succeeded in placing the explosive charges on the hulls of the auxiliary cruiser HMS Durham (11,000 tons.), of the oil-tankers s/s Denbydale (16,000 tons) and s/s Fiona Shell (2,400 tons).
Because of the low depth the first two ships did not sink completely and they were subsequently recovered, while the s/s Fiona Shell, totally submerged by the sea .
After crossing for the eight time the Strait
of Gibraltar, the Scirè
moored at the submarine quay of La Spezia on September
25. A few days after all the operators of the three MAS's
returned to Italy. They had succeeded in escaping capture
thanks to a perfect organization purposely set in Spain
by the men of the Decima MAS Flotilla.
During November 1941 the British Mediterranean Fleet was in a critical situation: only the battleships HMS Valiant and HMS Queen Elizabeth, based at Alexandria, were available. The Italian Navy studied carefully how to take advantage of that: if those two battleships were destroyed the Italian convoys to Lybia could safely sail with positive effects on the African war. In November 1941 the mission to destroy the British battleship was relied on the Decima MAS Flotilla and the submarine Scirè.
The first suitable time of the new moon is a
few days before Christmas in 1941. Consequently in the
night of December 3, the Scirè,
silently sets sail from the Submarines Base of La Spezia.
On December 14 the men of the Decima MAS
Flotilla reach the Greek island too.Once completed
the reparation, the Italian submarine leaves the island
of Leroy and, at the dawn of December 16, it reaches the
Egyptians coast at a few miles from Alexandria harbour.
The release operations of the SLCs start at 20,47 and they were more difficult than expected because they provoked a serious accident to one of the frogmen. After about an hour the submarine sales back, but because of the defective closing of the stern cylinders, it sails with difficulty. Borghese is forced twice to resurface in the attempt to close the defective portholes, but both times the operation fails. Even strongly tilted of stern, the submarine continues its disengagement route in submersion,in the effort of not being discovered and to jeopardize the action of the three SLCs. After about 19 hour submersion the submarine emerges but after only three hours it is forced to submerge again for the approaching of an British destroyer.
At 1.00, the submarine emerges again and receives from Athens the message that the aerial recognition has signalled in Alexandria harbour different ships on fire. In fact the three SLCs had entered unseen the enemy harbour and the frogmen of the Decima MAS Flotilla had struck with their explosive charges two British battleships HMS Valiant (30,600 tons), HMS Queen Elisabeth (30,600 tons), the destroyer HMS Jervis (1,690 tons.), the oil-tanker s/s Sagona (7,554 tons) and the steamboat RMS Durham (10,900 tons).
In the meantime the Scirè
returned to Leroy on December 21. The wounded frogman is
disembark and after being supplied with naphtha and supplies, on December 23 the
Scirè sets sail
bound to La Spezia.
In July 1942, near the commands of the Regia
Marina a new mission for the men of the Decima MAS Flottilla and
is organized: the attack to Haifa harbour, Israel.
loads the three SLCs and sets sail from La Spezia in the
evening of 27 July1942. After a calm navigation it
reaches the island of Leroy, on August 2 1942. Two days
after also the ten frogmen and ten "Swimmeres
Gamma" of the Decima MAS Flotilla
reach the Greek island by air .
The mission is coordinated with the German Aerial Command of the Egeo that on the 9 and 10 August sends some scouts above Haifa harbour. The aerial photos allow the Italian Command to know the situation at Haifa. A message informs the Scirè that in Haifa harbour are present: a light cruiser, three destroyers, nine steamboats, two tankers, two torpedo-boats and five vigilance ships. In the morning the exact position of each ship in the moorings is also comunicated.
In the meantime also the British guarded
their seas: and in the morning of August 10 the Italian
vessel in submersion is signalled at twenty miles from
Haifa harbour. One of the vigilance unities of Haifa harbour, the HMS Islay, is
positioned at a few miles from the entrance of the harbour.
Currently, the wreckage of the Scirè is still abandoned on the sand of Haifa harbour, in the point of coordination North 32° 54', 5 East 34° 58 '.