RIN Nembo.jpg
Kingdom of Italy
Name: Nembo
Builder: CNT, Riva Trigoso
Laid down: 21 January 1925
Launched: 27 January 1927
Commissioned: 24 October 1927
Fate: Sunk, 20 July 1940
General characteristics
Class and type: Turbine-class destroyer
Length: 307 ft 6 in (93.7 m)
Beam: 30.5 ft (9.3 m)
Draught: 10.75 ft (3.3 m)
Installed power:
Propulsion: 2 shafts, Parsons geared steam turbines
Speed: 36 knots (67 km/h; 41 mph)
Range: 3,800 nmi (7,000 km; 4,400 mi) at 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)
  • 145 (6 officers + 139 non-officers and sailors) peacetime
  • 179 (12 officers + 167 non-officers and sailors) wartime

Nembo was a Turbine-class destroyer built for the Royal Italian Navy (Regia Marina) during late 1920s. Her name means nimbus.

Description and Construction

Turbine-class warships were built in 1927–1928 and contained characteristics that can be described as transitional between the ships of the post-World War I period and those built in 1930s. Compared to both of their predecessors, Sauro-class and Sella-class vessels, their hull was elongated to accommodate a more powerful propulsion system to gain about 10% more power and increase their speed by 1 knot. Additional side fuel tanks were added which increased their bunkerage to 446 tons of fuel oil.

Nembo like all other Turbine-class boats had a significant overload: their design standard displacement was 1,092 long tons (1,110 t) but in practice it was around 1,220 long tons (1,240 t). Her deep load was 1,670 long tons (1,700 t) as designed, and ended up being 1,715 long tons (1,743 t) as built. The ship had an overall length of 307.5 feet (93.7 m), a beam of 30.5 feet (9.3 m) and a draught of 10.75 feet (3.3 m). She was powered by 2 Parsons geared steam turbines, driving two shafts, which developed a total of 40,000 shaft horsepower (30,000 kW) and gave a maximum speed of 36 knots (67 km/h; 41 mph).[1] During the trials the contract speed was exceeded, Nembo was clocked at 38.4 knots (71.1 km/h; 44.2 mph) during trials,[1] but at full load the vessel could reach no more than 33 knots (61 km/h; 38 mph). Steam for the turbines was provided by three Thornycroft 3-drum boilers. Nembo carried a maximum of 446 long tons (453 t) of fuel oil that gave her a range of 3,800 nautical miles (7,000 km; 4,400 mi) at 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph).

The ship mounted four 45-calibre 120 mm (4.7 in) guns in twin mounts. For anti-aircraft (AA) defense, three 40 mm/39 pom-pom cannons in single mounts were deployed at the time of launching. In early 1930s one of the 40 mm/39 pom-pom guns was removed, and a single mount twin 13.2 mm machine guns were installed. She was fitted with two above-water triple 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tube mounts, and could also carry 52 mines.

Nembo was built in the Cantieri Navali del Tirreno shipyard in Riva Trigoso, Genoa. She was laid down on 21 January 1925 and launched on 27 January 1927. The ship was completed on 24 October 1927 and after sea trials officially entered the service with Regia Marina.


Upon entry into the service with Regia Marina Nembo together with Turbine, Aquilone and Euro was assigned to the 2nd Squadron of the I Destroyer Flotilla based at La Spezia.[2] Between 1929 and 1932 the 2nd Destroyer Division conducted training cruises in the Mediterranean Sea.[2][3] In 1931 Nembo together with Euro, Espero and Zeffiro as well as old cruiser Ancona were part of II Naval Division.[4]

In 1932, Nembo was among the first ships in the Italian Navy to receive a Galileo-Bergamini fire control system, designed by then-Captain Carlo Bergamini, commander of the 1st Destroyer Squadron (consisting of Nembo, Turbine, Euro and Aquilone), of which Nembo was the flagship at the time. Testing of fire control system on the 1st Squadron vessels was successful and led to the adoption of this system on a number of other Regia Marina ships.[5][6]

In 1934 after another reorganization Nembo as well as Aquilone, Turbine and Euro were again reunited, now forming the 8th Destroyer Squadron, part of II Naval Division.[7] In 1934 together with Turbine she was temporarily deployed to Red Sea to conduct training in tropical climate.[3]

Between 1936 and 1938, Nembo participated in the Spanish Civil War, interdicting the delivery of supplies for the Spanish Republican forces by sea .[3]

World War II

At the time of Italy entry into World War II Nembo together with Euro, Turbine and Aquilone formed 1st Destroyer Squadron based in Tobruk. Initially, she was assigned escort and anti-submarine duties.

On June 6, 1940, in preparation for hostilities, the ships of 1st Destroyer Squadron together with minelayer Bartletta laid fourteen minefields (540 mines) around Tobruk.[8]

After an air reconnaissance revealed large number of ships present in Tobruk harbor, including several destroyers, British command ordered an air attack on Tobruk on June 12. The air strike was carried out by Blenheims from 45, 55, 113 and 211 Squadrons in the early morning hours of June 12. British bombers were intercepted by CR.32s from 92nd, 93rd and 94th Squadriglias, forcing some bombers to turn away, or drop their bombs prematurely. Several bombers managed to get through and bombed the harbor between 04:52 and 05:02 causing only negligible damage.[9]

In response the Italian command ordered a bombardment of Sollum. The raid was carried out both by Regia Aeronautica and Regia Marina, with twelve SM.79 bombers dropping bombs in the early morning of June 15, while destroyers Nembo, Turbine and Aquilone shelled the town from 03:49 to 04:05, firing 220 shells of their main caliber, but dealing negligible damage to the installations due to thick fog present at the time of attack.[10][11][12] Another bombardment of Sollum was performed between 05:35 and 06:18 on June 26 by the same destroyer group "with considerable effectiveness" expending 541 shells in the process.[11][13]

On July 5, 1940 there were seven Turbine-class destroyers berthed in Tobruk harbor, including Nembo, together with four torpedo boats, six freighters and several auxiliary vessels.[14] Between 10:00 to 11:15 a Short Sunderland reconnaissance plane overflew the harbor at an altitude of 1,500-2,000 meters and despite the anti-aircraft fire opened against it, confirmed the presence of numerous ships in the harbor. In the late afternoon a group of nine Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers of 813 Naval Air Squadron took off from the airfield in Sidi Barrani and headed towards Tobruk.[15] The air alarm was sounded at 20:06 but the Italians failed to detect the Allied aircraft until they were already over the harbor at 20:20.[14] Destroyers had most of their personnel on board steamers Liguria and Sabbia with exception of dedicated air defense crews.[16]. The attack commenced a few minutes later, and lasted only seven minutes and resulted in five Italian ships being sunk or damaged.[14] Not encountering any aerial opposition, British torpedo bombers attacked from low altitude (around 100 feet), and released their torpedoes from 400-500 meters away, almost point-blank.[16] Zeffiro was attacked first by a plane piloted by Nicholas Kennedy, whose torpedo hit the destroyer in the bow, around the ammunition depot, between the bridge and a 120 mm cannon.[16] The explosion broke the ship into two and sank it half an hour later. Freighter Manzoni was also hit, capsized and sank, while Euro and steamer Serenitas were hit, and had to be beached, and the ocean liner Liguria was hit and damaged. Two planes also attacked other destroyers, including Nembo, but failed to launch their torpedoes due to intense anti-aircraft fire.[15] The air alarm was canceled at 21:31, and by that time all nine British planes were far away.

On 19 July 1940 British command, believing that the light cruiser Giovanni delle Bande Nere, damaged during the Battle of Cape Spada, had taken refuge in Tobruk, decided to launch a new bomber attack against the base.[17] Nembo along with Aquilone and Ostro were berthed at the same location as during the July 5 raid. Most personnel was on board steamers Liguria and Sabbia with exception of dedicated air defense crews. Around 17:00 twelve Bristol Blenheim bombers from 55 Squadron and 211 Squadron RAF bombed the northern part of the harbor, slightly damaging an anti-aircraft battery and the port's facilities, and losing one aircraft.[18][17] At 18:56 a seaplane from the 700 Naval Air Squadron launched by the British battleship Warspite appeared to investigate results of the bombing. The seaplane was immediately targeted by anti-aircraft batteries, and shot down.[18][17] At 21:54 Tobruk was put on alert again after receiving reports from the Bardia and Sidi Belafarid advanced listening stations. Around 22:30 six Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers from the 824 Naval Air Squadron FAA appeared in the skies above Tobruk harbor and were met with strong anti-aircraft fire. This forced the planes to make several passes over the area trying to avoid the fire, and also to acquire the targets, the situation exacerbated by a fairly cloudy night.[18] The British finally managed to sort out their objectives by about 01:30 on July 20 and assumed attack formation at low altitude. At 01:32 steamer Sereno was struck in the stern by a torpedo, launched from a plane, piloted by squadron commander F.S. Quarry, causing her to slowly sink.[18] At 01:34 Ostro was hit in her stern ammunition depot by a torpedo launched from another plane, causing the ship to go ablaze and sink ten minutes later.[18] Nembo was hit by a torpedo at 01:37 and sank 8 minutes later with 25 of her crew being killed and four wounded.[18] The British lost one plane in the attack which crash-landed on the way back in the Italian controlled territory.[17]

The guns from both Nembo and Ostro were later removed and used by Italians to reinforce defenses of Bardia.


  1. ^ a b McMurtrie, Francis (1937). Jane's Fighting Ships: 1937. p. 280.
  2. ^ a b Pier Paolo Ramoino. "La Regia Marina Tra le due Guerre Mondiali" (PDF). p. 74. Retrieved 2017-12-18.
  3. ^ a b c Destoyer Nembo
  4. ^ Pier Paolo Ramoino. "La Regia Marina Tra le due Guerre Mondiali" (PDF). p. 75. Retrieved 2017-12-18.
  5. ^ "Carlo Bergamini Biography".
  6. ^ Friedman, Norman (2013). Naval Firepower: Battleship Guns and Gunnery in the Dreadnought Era. Seaforth Publishing. p. 263. ISBN 978-1848321854.
  7. ^ Pier Paolo Ramoino. "La Regia Marina Tra le due Guerre Mondiali" (PDF). p. 84. Retrieved 2017-12-18.
  8. ^ Bertke, Donald; Smith, Gordon; Kindell, Don (2011). World War II Sea War, Volume 2: France Falls, Britain Stands Alone. Bertke Publications. pp. 306–307.
  9. ^ Gustavsson, pp.41-42
  10. ^ Gustavsson, p.51
  11. ^ a b O'Hara, p.16
  12. ^ Giorgerini, Giorgio (2001). La Guerra Italiana sul Mare. La Marina tra Vittoria e Sconfitta 1940-1943. Mondadori. p. 12. ISBN 88-04405813.
  13. ^ Chester Times, June 1927, 1940, p.1
  14. ^ a b c Gustavsson, pp.95-96
  15. ^ a b Brown, pp. 38-39
  16. ^ a b c Franco Prosperini in Storia Militare No. 208 (January 2011), pp.4-10.
  17. ^ a b c d Gustavsson, pp.111-112
  18. ^ a b c d e f Prosperini, Franco. "1940:L'estate degli "Swordfish", Part 2" (PDF). pp. 18–20. Retrieved 2017-12-21.