Enrico Tazzoli
Name: Enrico Tazzoli
Namesake: Enrico Tazzoli
Builder: Odero-Terni-Orlando, Muggiano, La Spezia
Laid down: 1932
Launched: 14 October 1935
Commissioned: 1936
Fate: Lost, May 1943
General characteristics
Class and type: Calvi-class submarine cruiser
  • 1,549 t (1,525 long tons) (surfaced)
  • 2,061 t (2,028 long tons) (submerged)
Length: 84.3 m (276 ft 7 in)
Beam: 7.7 m (25 ft 3 in)
Draft: 5.2 m (17 ft 1 in)
Installed power:
  • 4,400 bhp (3,300 kW) (diesels)
  • 1,800 hp (1,300 kW) (electric motors)
  • 16.8 knots (31.1 km/h; 19.3 mph) (surfaced)
  • 7.4 knots (13.7 km/h; 8.5 mph) (submerged)
  • 11,400 nmi (21,100 km; 13,100 mi) at 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) (surfaced)
  • 120 nmi (220 km; 140 mi) at 3 knots (5.6 km/h; 3.5 mph) (submerged)
Test depth: 90 m (300 ft)
Crew: 77

Enrico Tazzoli was one of three Calvi-class submarines built for the Regia Marina (Royal Italian Navy) during the 1930s. Completed in 1936, she played a minor role in the Spanish Civil War of 1936–1939 supporting the Spanish Nationalists. She operated in the Atlantic during the Second World War and was second only to the submarine Leonardo da Vinci as the highest scoring Italian submarine of the conflict. Enrico Tazzoli was converted in 1943 to be a submarine transport for blockade-running between Europe and the Far East. She was lost on her first voyage in this role.

Design and description

The Calvi class was an improved and enlarged version of the preceding Balilla-class submarine cruisers. They displaced 1,549 metric tons (1,525 long tons) surfaced and 2,061 metric tons (2,028 long tons) submerged. The submarines were 84.3 meters (276 ft 7 in) long, had a beam of 7.7 meters (25 ft 3 in) and a draft of 5.2 meters (17 ft 1 in).[1] They had an operational diving depth of 90 meters (300 ft).[2] Their crew numbered 77 officers and enlisted men.[1]

For surface running, the boats were powered by two 2,200-brake-horsepower (1,641 kW) diesel engines, each driving one propeller shaft. When submerged each propeller was driven by a 900-horsepower (671 kW) electric motor. They could reach 16.8 knots (31.1 km/h; 19.3 mph) on the surface and 7.4 knots (13.7 km/h; 8.5 mph) underwater. On the surface, the Calvi class had a range of 11,400 nautical miles (21,100 km; 13,100 mi) at 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph); submerged, they had a range of 120 nmi (220 km; 140 mi) at 3 knots (5.6 km/h; 3.5 mph).[2]

The boats were armed with eight 53.3-centimeter (21 in) torpedo tubes, four each in the bow and in the stern for which they carried a total of 16 torpedoes. They were also armed with a pair of 120-millimeter (4.7 in) deck guns, one each fore and aft of the conning tower, for combat on the surface. Their anti-aircraft armament consisted of two twin-gun mounts for 13.2-millimeter (0.52 in) machine guns.[1]

Construction and career

Enrico Tazzoli, named after Enrico Tazzoli, was laid down by Odero-Terni-Orlando at their Muggiano, La Spezia shipyard in 1932, launched on 14 October 1935 and completed the following year.[1] During the Spanish Civil War, she unsuccessfully attacked a Republican destroyer off Cartagena with four torpedoes on 27 December. During her patrol off Cartagena on 13–27 January 1937, the submarine missed a ship with two torpedoes.[3]

Italy's entry into World War II in June 1940 found Tazzoli in operations in the western Mediterranean. In October she was assigned to BETASOM, the Regia Marina's task force in the Atlantic campaign. In December Tazzoli operated off the British Isles in company with five other Italian boats, but saw little success.

Operations during the autumn and winter of 1940 showed the Italian vessels were ill-suited to conditions in the North Atlantic, so the spring 1941 saw a change in strategy by Admiral Donitz, the German U-boat Commander (BdU). The BETASOM boats were assigned to long-distance patrols into the mid and south Atlantic, in a bid to spread the commerce war further afield. During this period Tazzoli was commanded by Carlo Fecia di Cossato, one of Italy's foremost naval officers. Tazzolis next patrols, to the Azores in the spring and to West Africa in the summer were more successful, claiming three victims in each case.

In December 1941 Tazzoli was involved in the rescue of the crews from the German commerce raider Atlantis and the supply ship Python, both sunk by British cruisers in the South Atlantic. With her sister ships Calvi and Finzi she brought home over 200 survivors, a journey of several thousand miles and regarded as an epic of maritime rescue.[4]

In February 1942 Tazzoli made her most successful raiding patrol, to the Caribbean as part of Operation Neuland. Over a two-month period she sank six Allied merchant ships.[5] In summer she returned to the Caribbean, but in nearly three months found only two victims. At the end of the year Tazzoli operated off the coast of Brazil, claiming four more victims.

In March 1943 Tazzoli was handed over for conversion to a submarine transport, for blockade-running to the Far East, and her commander received a new posting.[6]


In May 1943 the submarine set out for Japanese-occupied territory with a cargo of 165 metric tons (162 long tons) of trade goods. On 17 May contact was lost, and she was pronounced missing. One source suggests Enrico Tazzoli was sunk in the Bay of Biscay in attacks by USS Mackenzie,[6] while another suggests she was sunk by aircraft in the Bay of Biscay on 23 May.[7] There is no confirmed explanation for her loss.[1]

Patrol history

Tazzoli conducted ten war patrols over a 30-month period, and made one voyage as a blockade-runner.

War patrols by Enrico Tazzoli[6]
Patrol number Departed Returned  Area of operations Notes
1 30 June 1940 2 July 1940 North Africa  no success
2 30 July 1940 9 Aug 1940 Western Mediterranean failed attempt to pass Straits of Gibraltar
3 2 October 1940 24 October 1940 North Atlantic sank 1 merchant ship; joined BETASOM at Bordeaux
4 13 December 1940 6 January 1941 British Isles  sank 1 merchant ship
5 7 April 1941 23 May 1941 Azores sank 3 merchant ships
6 15 July 1941 11 September 1941 Freetown sank 3 merchant ships
7 7 December 1941 27 December 1941 South Atlantic  rescue mission for crew of raider Atlantis
8 2 February 1942 31 March 1942 Caribbean  Operation Neuland; sank 6 merchant ships
9 18 June 1942 5 September 1942  Caribbean sank 2 merchant ships
10 14 November 1942 2 February 1943 Brazil sank 4 merchant ships
11 16 May 1943 d.n.a  transport mission to Far East lost in transit


Tazzoli is credited with sinking 18 ships, for a total of 96,650 GRT, making her the highest-scoring Italian submarine after Leonardo da Vinci.

Ships sunk by Enrico Tazzoli[6]
Patrol Date Ship Flag Tonnage (GRT) Notes
3rd 12 October 1940 Orao  Yugoslavia 5,135 Freighter shelled then torpedoed while radioing; 2 killed
4th 27 December 1940 Ardanbahn  United Kingdom 4,980 No survivors from freighter of unescorted Convoy OB 263
5th 15 April 1941 Aurillac  United Kingdom 4,248 Freighter, 1 killed
5th 7 May 1941 Fernlane  Norway 4,310 Freighter with ammunition cargo, no casualties
5th 10 May 1941 Alfred Olsen  Norway 8,817 Tanker, no casualties
6th 19 August 1941 Sildra  Norway 7,313 Tanker, no casualties
8th 6 March 1942 Astrea  Netherlands 1,406 Freighter, no casualties
8th 6 March 1942 Tonsbergfjord  Norway 3,156 Freighter; 1 killed
8th 8 March 1942 Montevideo  Uruguay 5,785 Freighter; 14 killed
8th 10 March 1942 Cygnet  Greece 3,628 Freighter; no casualties
8th 13 March 1942 Daytonian  United Kingdom 6,434 Freighter; 1 killed
8th 15 March 1942 Athelqueen  United Kingdom 8,780 Tanker; 3 killed
9th 2 August 1942 Kastor  Greece 5,497 Freighter; 4 killed
9th 6 August 1942 Havsten  Norway 6,161 Tanker; 2 killed
10th 12 December 1942 Empire Hawk  United Kingdom 5,032 Freighter, no casualties
10th 12 December 1942 Ombillin  Netherlands 5,658 Freighter, no casualties
10th 21 December 1942 Queen City  United Kingdom 4,814 Freighter, 6 killed
10th 25 December 1942 Doña Aurora  United States 5,011 Freighter, 7 killed
Total: 96,165


  1. ^ a b c d e Chesneau, p. 305
  2. ^ a b Bagnasco, p. 152
  3. ^ Frank, pp. 95–96
  4. ^ Blair, p. 408
  5. ^ Blair, p. 508
  6. ^ a b c d "Regia Marina Italiana". Cristiano D'Adamo. Retrieved 2012-07-31.
  7. ^ Brice, pp. 131–133


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  • Blair, Clay (1996). Hitler's U-Boat War, The Hunters 1939–1942. Random House. ISBN 0-394-58839-8.
  • Brescia, Maurizio (2012). Mussolini's Navy: A Reference Guide to the Regina Marina 1930–45. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-544-8.
  • Brice, Martin (1981). Axis Blockade Runners of World War II. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-908-1.
  • Chesneau, Roger, ed. (1980). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922–1946. Greenwich, UK: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-146-7.
  • Frank, Willard C., Jr. (1989). "Question 12/88". Warship International. XXVI (1): 95–97. ISSN 0043-0374.
  • Rohwer, Jürgen (2005). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939–1945: The Naval History of World War Two (Third Revised ed.). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-119-2.