RIN destroyer outside Taranto
|Kingdom of Italy|
|Namesake:||Ostro, southerly wind|
|Laid down:||29 April 1925|
|Launched:||2 January 1928|
|Sponsored by:||Miss Batina Negrotto|
|Completed:||9 June 1928|
|Commissioned:||9 October 1928|
|Fate:||Sunk, 20 July 1940|
|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)|
|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)|
Italian destroyer Ostro was a Turbine-class destroyer built for the Royal Italian Navy (Regia Marina) during late 1920s. She was named after a southerly wind, Ostro, common in the Mediterranean and Adriatic.
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 allowed to increase fuel stowage to 446 tons of fuel oil.
Ostro like all other Ansaldo-built Turbine-class boats had a significant overload: their design standard displacement was 1,073 long tons (1,090 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). During the trials the contract speed was exceeded, 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. Ostro 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.
Ostro was built at the Ansaldo shipyard in Genoa. She was laid down on 29 April 1925 and launched on 2 January 1928, with Miss Batina Negrotto being the sponsor. The ship was completed on 9 June 1928 and after sea trials officially entered the service with Regia Marina on 9 October 1928.
Upon entry into the service with Regia Marina Ostro together with other vessels of her class conducted exercises in the Tyrrhenian Sea and visited Monaco to attend the celebrations of the local Italian community. Together with Espero, Zeffiro and Borea the ship was assigned to the 1st Squadron of the I Destroyer Flotilla based at La Spezia. In 1929 she carried out a training cruise of the coast of Spain, and in 1930 another one in the Dodecanese and Aegean Sea. In 1931 Ostro together with Turbine, Aquilone and Borea as well as older Daniele Manin, Giovanni Nicotera and Pantera formed 1st Destroyer Flotilla, part of II Naval Division. In 1934 after another reorganization Ostro as well as Espero, Zeffiro and Borea were again reunited, now forming the 4th Destroyer Squadron, part of II Naval Division.
Spanish Civil War
After the Civil War started in Spain in July 1936, both Italy and Nazi Germany supported the Nationalists of General Franco, whereas Soviet Union was actively supporting the Republicans. During the first year of the war, the Soviets used the Republican controlled ports of Bilbao and Santander in the North of Spain adjacent to the French border, but after their fall in the summer of 1937, the USSR was forced to use ports in the Mediterranean to continue supplying the Republicans. Both Italy and Germany deployed their submarines in the Mediterranean in early 1937 to interdict with Republican shipping, but without much success. On August 3, 1937 Franco made an urgent plea with Mussolini to use the Italian fleet to prevent the passage of a large Soviet transport convoy, which just departed from Odessa. Originally, only submarines were supposed to be used, but Mussolini was convinced by Franco to use Italian surface ships too against the Soviets. The Italian blockade was put into effect immediately, with two cruisers, Armando Diaz and Luigi Cadorna, eight torpedo boats and eight destroyers, including Ostro being deployed in and around the Strait of Sicily and Strait of Messina.
In the evening of August 13, 1937 Ostro, under command of captain Teodorico Capone, while patrolling off Bizerte, just north of the island of Linosa, spotted and attacked Spanish Republican steamer Conde de Abásolo sailing from Cartagena to Odessa in ballast. At 20:43 the Spanish ship was struck by a torpedo and sank in the position , off Pantelleria. Twenty-three members of the ship's crew were picked up by the British steamer City of Wellington, and landed in Algiers on August 17.
On August 30, 1937 Turbine, under command of captain Virgilio Rusca, was on patrol together with Ostro, when they encountered Soviet steamer Timiryazev around 16:00. The destroyers continued shadowing the ship until the darkness fell, and around 21:00 Turbine launched two torpedoes at the Soviet vessel, and Ostro launched one. The cargo ship was hit by two torpedoes in quick succession and rapidly sank in the position , approximately 74 miles east of Algiers. Two lifeboats with all 29 survivors were towed to Dellys by local fishing boats, and successfully reached the shore at 01:00 on August 31. The Soviet steamer was not a blockade runner, and was transporting 2,834 tons of coal from Cardiff to Port Said.
On September 3 Ostro escorted captured Republican freighter Mar Negro from Cagliari to Cape Spartivento where the ship was transferred into custody of the Nationalist armed merchant cruiser Jaime I who took the freighter to Palma de Mallorca.
In September 1937 the Nyon Conference was called by France and Great Britain to address the "underwater piracy" conducted against merchant traffic in the Mediterranean. On September 14, an agreement was signed establishing British and French patrol zones around Spain (with a total of 60 destroyers and airforce employed) to counteract aggressive behavior by submarines. Italy was not directly accused, but had to comply with the agreement and suspend the maritime operations.
World War II
On June 27, 1940 Ostro sailed from Taranto at 22:45 for the first war mission, along with Zeffiro and the squadron leader Espero (commanded by captain Enrico Baroni). The three vessels were to transport to Tobruk two anti-aircraft batteries (10 Breda Model 35 cannons in all), 120 short tons (110 t) of ammunition (450,000 rounds) and 162 members of the Voluntary Militia for Territorial Security.
On June 28, 1940 at 12:10, about 50 mi (43 nmi; 80 km) west of Zakynthos, the convoy was sighted by a British reconnaissance Short Sunderland plane. As they were within striking range of the British 7th Cruiser Squadron, composed of light cruisers Liverpool, Orion, Neptune, Gloucester and Sydney, Admiral John Tovey ordered them to intercept the Italians. The Italian column was sighted by the Allied ships around 18:30, about 100 miles north of Tobruk, and at 18:36 Liverpool opened fire from 22,000 yd (20,000 m) at the surprised Italian flotilla. At 18:59 Orion also opened fire from 18,000 yd (16,000 m). The Italian destroyers were theoretically faster than the British cruisers, but due to their age and heavy cargo on board their speed advantage was nullified. In addition, Espero's third boiler turned out to be defective, limiting the destroyer's speed to just 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph). Captain Baroni, therefore, decided to sacrifice his Espero in order to cover the escape of Ostro and Zeffiro, and ordered them to disengage and sail for Benghazi at full speed. Espero laid smokescreens and conducted evasive maneuvers, engaging Liverpool's division with guns, and simultaneously firing three torpedoes at Orion. While Liverpool and Gloucester took on Espero, the other three cruisers tried to get around the smokescreens to attack the fleeing Ostro and Zeffiro, but were ordered to abandon their pursuit and concentrate on Espero instead. Due to zigzagging Espero managed to avoid being hit, but by 19:20 the range between her and Liverpool had shortened to 14,000 yd (13,000 m). In fact, Italians drew first blood, when a single Italian 4.7 in (120 mm) shell hit Liverpool just 3 ft above the waterline, with splinters penetrating the warheads of two torpedoes, but caused little damage otherwise. Despite heavy firing, Espero was not hit until 20:00, when her engine rooms were struck bringing the vessel to a stop. The 7th Squadron expended about 5,000 shells, more than 1,600 of main caliber, before the Italian destroyer was sunk, after 130 minutes of fierce fighting. Sydney rescued 47 out of 225 men from the Italian destroyer, and thirty six more escaped on rafts, but only six of them were later found alive by Italian submarine Topazio almost 20 days later. Captain Baroni died aboard his ship, and was posthumously awarded the Medaglia d´oro al valor militare.
Another Italian convoy sailed to Tobruk on June 30, 1940 from Augusta carrying troops, supplies, ammunition and fuel. The convoy consisted of six cargo and passenger ships and was escorted by 6 destroyers and 4 torpedo boats. The Royal Navy failed to intercept this convoy, in large part due to the large ammunition expenditure in their previous confrontation. On July 5, 1940 there were seven Turbine-class destroyers berthed in Tobruk harbor together with four torpedo boats, six freighters and several auxiliary vessels. 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. 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. Destroyers had most of their personnel on board steamers Liguria and Sabbia with exception of dedicated air defense crews.. The attack commenced a few minutes later, and lasted only seven minutes and resulted in five Italian ships being sunk or damaged. 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. 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. 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, but failed to launch their torpedoes due to intense anti-aircraft fire. 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. Ostro along with Nembo and Aquilone 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. 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. At 21:54 Tobruk was put on alert again after receiving reports from the Bardia and Sidi Belafarid advanced listening stations. Around 22:30 6 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. 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. At 01:34 Ostro was hit in her stern ammunition depot by a torpedo launched from a plane piloted by S. F. Fullmore, causing the ship to go ablaze and sink ten minutes later. Nembo was hit by a torpedo at 01:37 and sank. The British lost one plane in the attack which crash-landed on the way back in the Italian controlled territory.
Ostro's crew suffered 42 casualties, with 2 officers and 40 NCOs and sailors being missing or killed in the attack. 20 more people were wounded, including commander Zarpellon.
|13 August 1937||Conde de Abásolo||3,122 GRT||Freighter||in ballast|
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- Destroyer Ostro
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- Turbine class destroyers