HMS Rainbow (N 16)
Submarine of the R class
|Navy||The Royal Navy|
|Built by||Chatham Dockyard (Chatham, U.K.)|
|Ordered||28 Jan 1929|
|Laid down||24 Jul 1929|
|Launched||14 May 1930|
|Commissioned||18 Jan 1932|
|Lost||4 Oct 1940|
|Loss position||41.28N, 18.05E|
HMS Rainbow (Lt.Cdr. Lewis Peter Moore, RN) left Alexandria on 23 September 1940. She was rammed and sunk by the Italian merchant Antonietta Costa about 60 nautical miles east-north-east of Bari, Italy in position 41º28'N, 18º05'E.
It is often stated that HMS Rainbow was sunk by the Italian submarine Enrico Toti in the Gulf of Taranto, south of Calabria, Italy on 15 October 1940. However after research in 1988 it was concluded that this action resulted in the loss of HMS Traid.
HMS Rainbow was never heard from after sailing from Alexandria on 23 September 1940 to operate in the Gulf of Taranto in synchrony with HMS Regent. We can, however, reconstruct the sequence of events which ended with her loss from the radio logs of the submarine flotilla:
On 7 October Rainbow was ordere to move to an area bearing 035° from HMS Truant's position (this being 38º02'N, 17º33'E, south-east of Capo Rizzuto, Calabria.
On 13 October she was ordered to leave her patrol area and return to Alexandria, passing through position 32º12'N, 25º08'E so as to reach Alexandria during the afternoon of 19 October but she failed to arrive.
As stated above, Rainbow had been ordered to the Bari-Durazzo route on 4 October. That same day, an Italian convoy consisting of freighters Antonietta Costa, Oreste and Premuda, escorted by Armed Merchant Cruiser RAMB III was sailing from Durazzo to Bari. At 0330 hrs the Antonietta Costa struck an underwater object in position 41º28'N, 18º05'E, about 60 nautical miles east-north-east of Bari, Italy. Immediately after this collision, a heavy underwater explosion took place, shaking the freighter. The concussion was clearly felt by all the ships in the convoy. On the Antonietta Costa, some hull plates were displaced and water entered #5 hold.
On arrival in Bari, divers examined the hull. They found 2 large abrasions on either side of the keel, evidently caused by a swipe against a metallic object of fairly large dimensions.
Rainbow was not scheduled to cross any minefields, British or Italian, on her prescribed route back to Alexandria, and since no other submarine reported being involved in a collision, it is almost certain that she was the victim of an accidental ramming on the part of the Antonietta Costa.
Patrolling submarines were under the strictest radio silence, they could receive transmissions but were forbidden from acknowledging receipt, therefore, the lack of messages from Rainbow cannot be construed as proof of her presence of not in a certain area. Only locating the wreck will solve this mystery for sure. The above is, however, the best explanation for her disappearance.
Commands listed for HMS Rainbow (N 16)
Please note that we're still working on this section.
|1||Lt.Cdr. John David Luce, RN||22 Mar 1939||May 1940|
|2||Lt.Cdr. Lewis Peter Moore, RN||May 1940||4 Oct 1940 (+)|
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