Italian submarines in World War Two

Romolo (RO)

Romolo (USMM)

ClassR 1 (33) 
Laid down 21 Jul 1942 Cantieri Navale Tosi di Taranto, Taranto
Launched21 Mar 1943
Commissioned19 Jun 1943
End service
Loss date18 Jul 1943
Loss position
Fate Although she was claimed sunk on 18th July 1943 east of Sicily in position 37°20'N, 16°15'E by depth charges from a British Wellington aircraft (RAF Sq. 221/B). The bomber had actually attacked the submarine Ambra. The date and cause of her loss are still unknown. She was probably mined.


CommanderDate fromDate toCommand notes
T.V. Giandaniele Asquini12 Apr 194319 Jun 1943
C.C. Alberto Crepas19 Jun 1943Jul 1943

Ships hit

No ships hit by this submarine.

Patrols and events

 CommanderDateTimePortArr. dateArr. timeArr. portMilesDescription
Asquini, Giandaniele12 Apr 19431130Taranto12 Apr 19431650TarantoTrials.

Asquini, Giandaniele13 Apr 19430815Taranto13 Apr 19431530TarantoTrials.

Asquini, Giandaniele15 Apr 19430925Taranto15 Apr 19431727TarantoTrials.

Asquini, Giandaniele30 Apr 19430636Taranto30 Apr 19431147TarantoExercises.

Asquini, Giandaniele8 May 19430939Taranto8 May 19431307TarantoExercises.

Asquini, Giandaniele13 May 19430812Taranto13 May 19431818TarantoTrials.

Asquini, Giandaniele31 May 19430905Taranto31 May 19432015TarantoTrials.

Asquini, Giandaniele1 Jun 19430745Taranto1 Jun 1943115TarantoTrials.

Asquini, Giandaniele2 Jun 19430740Taranto2 Jun 19431152TarantoTrials.

Asquini, Giandaniele10 Jun 19430720Taranto10 Jun 19431337TarantoExercises.

Asquini, Giandaniele15 Jun 19430745Taranto15 Jun 19431617TarantoTrials.

Crepas, Alberto21 Jun 19430740Taranto21 Jun 19431537Taranto24,5Trials.

Crepas, Alberto23 Jun 19431145Taranto23 Jun 19431814Taranto19,5Trials. Sonar exercises with torpedo boats Pegaso and Fabrizi, in 40°26'30'N, 17°02'E.

Crepas, Alberto25 Jun 19430610Taranto25 Jun 19431622Taranto27Exercises.

Crepas, Alberto26 Jun 19431230Taranto26 Jun 19432030Taranto26Exercises.

Crepas, Alberto29 Jun 19430614Taranto29 Jun 19432000Taranto50Trials.

Crepas, Alberto1 Jul 19431248Taranto1 Jul 19431953TarantoExercises.

Crepas, Alberto2 Jul 19430645Taranto2 Jul 19431155TarantoExercises with the submarine Remo and torpedo boats Pegaso and Partenope.

Crepas, Alberto3 Jul 19430646Taranto3 Jul 19431253TarantoExercises.

Crepas, Alberto11 Jul 19430654Taranto11 Jul 19431715TarantoExercises.

Crepas, Alberto12 Jul 19430531Taranto12 Jul 19431515Taranto200Exercises.

1Crepas, Alberto15 Jul 19431726Taranto18 Jul 19430550Sunk with all handsShe had been ordered to sail at 1400 hours on the 15th but was delayed because of defects. On passage Taranto-Naples (first sortie) through (a) 39°00'N, 17°40'E (b) 37°45'N, 16°12'E (c) 37°45'N, 15°45'E, then to point S1 (Capo Dell'Armi or 37°51'N, 15°41'E) where she was expected at 1310 hours on the 16th. She was to proceed through Point M 1, straight to point B (from Point M 1 submerged even in daylight) and finally to Naples. Her instructions were to travel on the surface at 11 knots until 0730 hours on the 17th and then submerged at 2 knots until 2030 hours on the 17th and then on surface again until Naples.
  15 Jul 1943
1230 (e)
Initially, Romolo was to have been loaded with ammunition on 5th July and sail on 10th July for Catania, but the invasion of Sicily brought a change in plan.

She was ordered to sail at 1400 hours on the 15th, but was delayed because of defects. She was to proceed from Taranto to Naples through:

(1) 39°00' N, 17°40' E
(2) 37°45' N, 16°12' E
(3) 37°45' N, 15°45' E,
(4) Point S1 (Capo Dell'Armi or 37°51' N, 15°41' E) where she was expected at 1310 hours on the 16th.
(5) Point M 1 (Strait of Messina), then submerged in daylight, straight to point B (off Naples) and finally to Naples.

Her instructions were to travel on the surface at 11 knots until 0730 hours on the 17th, then submerged at 2 knots until 2030 hours on the 17th and surfaced again until Naples.

At 1230 hours, in a phone conversation with Comandante Ginocchio, Comandante Rossi of SUPERMARINA suggested that, since air protection could not be assured, Remo and Romolo should proceed submerged when off southwest of Calabria and arrive a day later than initially anticipated.

At 1545 hours, MARICOSOM ordered Romolo to proceed on the surface from 1400 hours on the 15th (she sailed only at 1726 hours) to 0730 hours on the 17th and then submerged until 2030 hours on the 17th. At 2230 hours on the 17th she was to pass through Point B of Naples and then arrive at Naples (surface speed: 11 knots, submerged speed: 2 knots.

At 2005 hours on the 15th, a new order instructed the submarine to travel submerged as necessary, because of the danger of air attack, in order to reach meridian 16°E at 0500 hours on the 17 th and to travel submerged even during night hours in order to be 212° - Reggio - 6 miles (ca. 38°06' N, 15°38' E) at 1900 hours on the 17th. There, she was to meet a VAS boat that would escort her through the Strait of Messina.

At 1330 hours on the 16th, MARICOSOM issued orders to Romolo and Remo to adjust their navigation in order to pass meridian 16°06' E at 0200 hours on the 17th and 0300 hours on the 17th respectively, then to proceed to the position off Reggio already established.
  18 Jul 1943
0320B (e)
Wellington 'B' (HZ.116) of 221 Squadron piloted by Pilot Officer E. Austin made an attack, which was initially credited to have sunk the submarine Romolo, although at the time, she was assessed as "probably slightly damaged". The aircraft had detected the submarine from a range of 6 miles and made an attack by keeping the target in its moonpath. Five 250-lb depth charges set at 25 feet and three A/S 100-lb bombs were released from a height of 200 feet. The submarine was reported to have fired a short burst of machine-gun fire as the aircraft flew away. It was not hit. The aircraft attempted to contact British destroyers known to be operating in the area, without success.

The submarine attacked was actually Ambra (see entry for this submarine).

The mysterious loss of the submarine Romolo still has not been solved.

It is possible that her cargo of ammunition (?) contributed to her loss. There is an outside possibility that she may have been lost on Rorqual's minefield, laid about 2 miles off Punta Stilo (15th May 1943).

Although the minefield was located on 22nd May and mines detonated and another five detached. Six more mines were destroyed on 23rd May while the torpedo boat Orione reported to record mine echoes in 38°35.5' N, 16°39' E and the corvette Driade sank two British mines in 38°35.5' N, 16°41.5' E. It is possible that the minefield had not been completely cleared.

Romolo should have passed some 15 miles off Punta Stilo but C.C. Crepas could have elected to close the coast to make up time (he had left nearly 3.5 hours behind schedule) or to get a bearing and stray into this minefield.

She was a brand new submarine and had not completed her trials and an accidental loss cannot be ruled out.

C.C. Alberto Crepas, six officers, fifty-three ratings and two civilians lost perished.

23 entries. 22 total patrol entries (1 marked as war patrols) and 2 events.

All Italian submarines