Italian submarine Enrico Tazzoli
Name: Enrico Tazzoli
Builder: OTO, Muggiano, Italy
Launched: 14 October 1935
Homeport: BETASOM, Bordeaux
Fate: Lost, May 1943
General characteristics [1]
Type: Submarine
  • 1,331 long tons (1,352 t) surfaced
  • 1,965 long tons (1,997 t) submerged
Length: 277 ft (84 m)
Beam: 25 ft (7.6 m)
Draught: 17 ft (5.2 m)
  • 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph) surfaced
  • 8.5 knots (15.7 km/h; 9.8 mph) submerged
Complement: 66

Italian submarine Enrico Tazzoli was a Calvi-class submarine of the Italian Royal Navy (Regia Marina) during the Second World War. She operated in the Atlantic from 1940 to 1943 and was second only to the submarine Leonardo da Vinci as the highest scoring Italian commerce raider of the conflict. Tazzoli was converted 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 construction

Tazzoli was laid down in 1932, one of three submarines built by OTO of Muggiano to a Fiat-Ansaldo design. She was double-hulled, with a wide beam for improved stability, while her range and habitability were suited for long-range ocean patrolling. She had a range of 13,400 nautical miles at a speed of 8 knots, while her submerged range was 80nm at 4kn and her dive depth was 330 feet.[1]

Tazzoli was armed with eight torpedo tubes, and two 120mm deck guns.[1]

Tazzoli was launched on 14 October 1935 and entered service before the outbreak of the Second World War. She was named after Enrico Tazzoli, a martyr of the Italian wars of independence.

Service history

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 Adm. 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 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.[2]

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.[3] 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.[4]


In May 1943 under her new commander Tazzoli set out for Japanese-occupied territory with a cargo of 165 tons of trade goods. On 17 May contact was lost, and she was pronounced missing. One source suggests Tazzoli was sunk in the Bay of Biscay in attacks by USS Mackenzie,[4] while another suggests she was sunk by aircraft in the Bay of Biscay on 23 May.[5] 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[4]
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[4]
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 Conway p305
  2. ^ Blair p408
  3. ^ Blair p508
  4. ^ a b c d "Regia Marina Italiana". Cristiano D'Adamo. Retrieved 2012-07-31.
  5. ^ Brice pp.131–133


  • Blair, C : Hitler’s U-Boat War Vol I (1996) ISBN 0-304-35260-8
  • Brice, M : Axis Blockade Runners of World War II Naval Institute Press (1981) ISBN 0-87021-908-1
  • Frank, Willard C., Jr. (1989). "Question 12/88". Warship International. XXVI (1): 95–97. ISSN 0043-0374.
  • Gardner, R: Chesnau, R: Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922–1946 (1980) ISBN 0-85177-146-7