Italian submarines in World War Two

Italian Commanders

Giuliano Prini

Born  25 Jan 1910Rome
Died  Sep 1941(31)Killed in action


  T.V.Tenente di Vascello


22 Oct 1940 Croce di guerra al valore militare
15 Nov 1941 Croce di guerra al valore militare (posthumous)
9 Feb 1942 Medaglia di bronzo al valore militare (posthumous)
29 Jan 1948 Medaglia di bronzo al valore militare (posthumous)
23 Sep 1949 Medaglia d'oro al valore militare (posthumous)

Career information

From 25.05.1939, served as Second in Command to C.F. Francesco Padolecchia in 4° GRUPSOM (Taranto).
MAGGIORE BARACCA (T.V. First Officer): from 05.07.1940 to December 1940+.
ALESSANDRO MALASPINA (T.V. C.O.): from 23.03.1941 to 10.09.1941? (sunk, Prini was killed).

Commands listed for Giuliano Prini

Submarine Type Rank From To
Alessandro Malaspina (MP, I.6)Ocean goingT.V.23 Mar 194124 Sep 1941

Ships hit by Giuliano Prini

DateSubmarineShip hitTypeGRTNat.Loss type
1.15 Jul 1941Alessandro MalaspinaNikoklisCargo ship3,576GreekSunk
2.17 Jul 1941Alessandro MalaspinaGuelmaCargo ship4,402BritishSunk

War patrols listed for Giuliano Prini

 SubmarineDateTimePortArr. dateArr. timeArr. portMilesDescription
Alessandro Malaspina (MP, I.6)14 Apr 19410840Bordeaux14 Apr 19411300Le Verdon62Passage Bordeaux-Le Verdon.

Alessandro Malaspina (MP, I.6)14 Apr 19411500Bordeaux14 Apr 19411900Le VerdonTrials.

Alessandro Malaspina (MP, I.6)15 Apr 19410805Le Verdon15 Apr 19411650La Pallice78Passage Le Verdon-La Pallice.

Alessandro Malaspina (MP, I.6)16 Apr 19410820La Pallice16 Apr 19411730La Pallice41Trials.

Alessandro Malaspina (MP, I.6)18 Apr 19410915La Pallice18 Apr 19411510La Pallice31Trials.

1.Alessandro Malaspina (MP, I.6)18 Apr 19412100La Pallice20 May 19411500Bordeaux4918Patrolled west of Ireland, between 53°00'N and 54°00'N, and between 20°00'W and 25°00'W. Arrived with Perla, escorted by Sperrbrecher III from Gironde buoy no.1 to Le Verdon.
  24 Apr 1941220749° 50'N, 20° 20'WAt 2207 hours, in poor visibility, a steamer was sighted at 4,000 metres. The submarine's diesels were emitting excessive smoke so T.V. Prini opted for a submerge attack. However, in the failing light, he could not determine the vessel's course and speed and Malaspina was brought to the surface at 2325 hours. The vessel was now at 2,500 metres. The submarine alternated between surfacing and diving to close the target but, by 0732 hours on the 25th, she had lost contact.
  3 May 1941221554° 52'N, 22° 23'WAt 2110 hours, a steamer was sighted at 6,000 metres. At 2138 hours, Malaspina dived to carry out a submerged attack.

At 2215 hours, T.V. Prini ordered tube no.4 to fire (533mm) from a distance of 800 metres. It misfired. Repeated attempts to fire it, both electrically and manually, failed. The vessel escaped in a rain squall.

This was the British Lycaon (7,552 GRT, built 1913) sailing independently to the United Kingdom.

At 2345 hours, the vessel was sighted again at 2,000 metres and she opened fire on the submarine firing at least two rounds, the closest fell about 50 meters from Malaspina. Five minutes later, she made an SOS revealing her identity and was acknowledged by the Valentia radio station. T.V. Prini maneuvered his submarine to obtain a favourable position.

At 0108 hours on 4th May, he ordered the firing from the bow (no.1 and no.4) tubes of two 533mm torpedoes and a single 450mm torpedo (no, 3 tube) from a distance of 400 metres. Only the 450mm weapon left its tube, the others misfired.

At 0128 hours, Malaspina attempted a new attack from a stern tube at 500 metres but was thwarted by the sudden change of course of her target.

At 0208 hours, a similar attempt was made from 600 metres, but was again thwarted.

At 0245 hours, Prini was frustrated once more from a distance of 800 metres, The target escaped in a rain squall and the submarine lost contact at 0415 hours in 55°10' N, 21°38' W.
  9 May 19410645-0108/1054° 14'N, 17° 43'WAt 0645 hours, the hydrophones detected turbine noises. Malaspina shut down all engines and motors (including the gyrocompass) and kept on silent running on a single electric motor.

From 1230 hours to 1440 hours, over 40 depth charges were heard. These were followed by depth charges being dropped singly every 15 or 30 minutes, interrupted by sudden flurries of multiple depth charges. In all, 97 depth charges were counted until 0108 hours on 10th May.

Malaspina surfaced at 0233 hours on to an empty horizon and cleared the area at high speed.
  11 May 1941Malaspina was informed of a convoy sighted at 0745 hours in 56°57' N, 17°18' W steering 240°. The search was negative.
  11 May 194153° 00'N, 18° 30'W
(0) Approximately.
During a period of torpedo maintenance, a rating accidentally fired the no.4 tube (which had misfired twice on 3rd and 4th May) causing damage to the bow tube opening, which was closed at the time.

Despite the damage, four days later, the submarine managed to dive down to 126 meters. Following this patrol, an inquest presided by C.V. Polacchini, reprimanded Prini and his First Officer Paolo Monechi, as the submarine failed to carry out two torpedo attacks due to errors in drill and then lost this torpedo, causing damage. However, Polacchini did recognise that Prini had conducted his mission with tenacity and aggressivity. Of the two ratings responsible for the accidental firing of the torpedo, one received a prison sentence and the other was transferred to a surface unit.

Prini was still in command of Malaspina when she was later sunk with all hands. He was awarded the Medaglia d'Oro posthumously. Later, Monechi was given the command of Mocenigo, followed by that of the new submarine Tritone, who was lost off Bougie on her first patrol, but Monechi survived.
  15 May 1941170053° 52'N, 18° 45'WAt 0400 hours on 14th May, T.V. Prini informed BETASOM that he was returning home. He was ordered to prolong his patrol by 48 hours and to proceed to a point about 160 miles ENE of his present position to intercept a convoy. Malaspina was to be part of a patrol line at dawn on 15th May:

Malaspina in 52°55' N, 18°55' W.
Otaria in 53°05' N, 16°55' W.
Morosini in 53°25' N, 17°25' W.
Bianchi in 54°15' N, 18°15' W.
Barbarigo in 56°55' N, 17°55' W.

At 0700 hours, Malaspina reached her new patrol position.

At 1200 hours, the convoy was reported in a new position and it was moving toward the patrol line. Malaspina moved at full speed, expecting to intercept it at 2000 hours.

At 1700 hours on 15th May, smokes were sighted.
  15 May 19411720
1835 (e)
53° 52'N, 18° 45'W
(0) Approximately.
At 1705 hours, an aircraft was first sighted flying toward the convoy. As Malaspina had intercepted a signal from BETASOM to Bianchi, informing her that German aircraft were going to attack the convoy, T.V. Prini thought that this was one of them.

At 1720 hours, an aircraft was seen flying on parallel course with the submarine at a distance of 4.000 metres. The aircraft fired a red rocket, similar to the recognition signal of the day (red and white) and Malaspina replied accordingly. As the aircraft now flew toward the submarine, Prini ordered the machine guns to fire. The aircraft did not attack, but tried to stay astern of the submarine and made a series of signals with Malaspina replying with her Breda guns to keep it at bay.

At 1749 hours, the submarine had closed the convoy estimated at about 18-20 ships. A destroyer stationed astern of the convoy turned toward the submarine at high speed. Malaspina dived and had reached a depth of 40 metres when a depth charge dropped by the aircraft. About 20 minutes later, hydrophone effects indicated the arrival of three destroyers.

At 1832 hours, a destroyer dropped the first pattern of depth charges. The two manometers were defective, a few light bulbs broken, but otherwise, no serious damage. More depth charges were recorded at 1855, 1922, 1934, 1940 and 1953 hours. Noises were heard until 2256 hours, then again at 0114 and 0308 hours on 16th May.

At 0405 hours, Malaspina was getting short of air and surfaced. Fortunately, no enemy vessel was in sight.
  16 May 1941042553° 20'N, 19° 15'WAt 0425 hours, Malaspina had just been on the surface for 20 minutes, when a destroyer was sighted using her searchlights. The submarine turned away and escaped to the northeast.
  17 May 1941090549° 00'N, 16° 55'WAt 0438 hours, Malaspina received BETASOM's order to return home.

At 0905 hours, an aircraft was sighted at 4,000 metres and the submarine dived.
  18 May 1941150547° 00'N, 9° 55'WAt 1505 hours, an aircraft was sighted at 6,000 metres and the submarine dived.
  18 May 1941215046° 35'N, 8° 40'WAt 2150 hours, two shadows, apparently warships, were sighted and Malaspina dived.
  19 May 19411140-120046° 00'N, 5° 32'WAt 1140 hours, Malaspina sighted an aircraft at 1,000 metres. It turned out to be an Arado seaplane. The submarine tried to fire a reconnaissance rocket (no. 3) but it misfired. The Donath projector was then used to flash a signal. The reconnaissance signal was to change at noon with a no. 4 rocket and T.V. Prini was ready to give the order to fire it, but the aircraft flew away.
  19 May 19411640
1640 (e)
45° 40'N, 4° 05'WAt 1640 hours, an aircraft was sighted at 5,000 metres. It had closed to 3,000 metres when it was recognised to be a Sunderland.

At 2,500 metres, Malaspina opened intense antiaircraft fire with her machine guns. The aircraft appeared to hesitate for a while, then went into the attack and dropped five bombs from a height of 200 metres. One of the Italian machine gunners claimed to have sighted a machine gunner on the aircraft slumping in his seat.

This was Sunderland 'J' of 10 Squadron (RAAF) piloted by Flight Lieutenant J. Costello. It had sighted the submarine from a distance of 15 miles. Actually four depth-charges were dropped from a height of 200 feet , two set at a depth of 100 feet and two to 150 feet. It also machine-gunned the submarine with 70 rounds (rear gun: 50 rounds, port midship's turret: 20 rounds). The depth charges are reported to have missed the submarine by 40 feet fore and aft the conning tower on the port side.

Malaspina had escaped damage and dived.

2.Alessandro Malaspina (MP, I.6)27 Jun 19410900Bordeaux27 Jun 19411300Le VerdonPassage Bordeaux-Le Verdon.

3.Alessandro Malaspina (MP, I.6)27 Jun 19411610Le Verdon27 Jun 19411745Le VerdonTrials.

4.Alessandro Malaspina (MP, I.6)27 Jun 19412100Le Verdon5 Aug 19411750Bordeaux7032Patrolled west of Gibraltar. On 30th June ordered to 33°00'N, 11°45'W. On 10th July, ordered to 36°55'N, 12°55'W. On 12th July, ordered to 36°25'N, 22°05'W. on 25th July, was ordered to 35°45'N, 11°25'W. Then refit until September 1941.
  28 Jun 1941133044° 39'N, 3° 32'WAt 1330 hours, two large Spanish fishing vessels were sighted, one of them was Nuevo Soledad (106 GRT, built 1931) from Aviles. The submarine avoided them.
  29 Jun 1941During the day, Malaspina was ordered by BETASOM to proceed south on 12°00' W meridian to 33°05' N, 11°45' W (Italian Grid 3972/51).
  30 Jun 19411045At 1045 hours, BETASOM had ordered the submarines to the following positions:

Torelli in 2533/36 (36°58'N, 12°30'W)
Morosini in 2511/33 (36°30'N, 13°20'W)
Cappellini in 8511/66 (35°58'N, 14°00'W)
Da Vinci in 8511/33 (35°30' N, 13°20' W)
Baracca in 8533/31 (35°10'N, 12°30'W)
Malaspina in 3972/51 (33°00'N, 11°45'W)

Malaspina proceeded.
  30 Jun 1941211543° 48'N, 12° 04'WAt 2115 hours, Malaspina sighted Morosini and exchanged recognition signals.
  2 Jul 1941184536° 43'N, 12° 22'WAt 1525 hours, a steamer was sighted proceeding at 13 knots. At 1800 hours, Malaspina submerged to attack.

At 1845 hours, she surfaced and stopped her with a warning shot.

She was Argentinian steamer Rio Grande (687 GRT, built 1920) on a voyage from Lisbon to Buenos Aires. She was ordered to send a boat with her papers. They proved to be in order and she was released.
  3 Jul 1941111535° 14'N, 11° 26'WAt 1115 hours, a destroyer was observed at a distance of 8,000 metres. Malaspina dived and was not detected.
  7 Jul 19411500-175034° 10'N, 9° 38'W
(0) Approximately.
At 1500 hours, a vessel was sighted. It was at initially thought to be an armed merchant cruiser.

At 1750 hours, Malaspina submerged to carry an attack, only to identify the vessel as the Spanish Ciudad De Alicante (2,434 GRT, built 1930) from Valencia.
  7 Jul 1941200534° 10'N, 9° 38'WAt 1715 hours, BETASOM ordered the submarines to the following positions:

Torelli in 9672/32 (34°15'N, 11°25'W)
Da Vinci in 9672/34 (34°35'N, 11°25'W)
Baracca in 9672/12 (34°15'N, 11°05'W)
Malaspina in 9697/42 (34°15'N, 10°35'W).

At 2005 hours, a large fishing vessel was sighted but no action was taken, as a four-engine bomber appeared shortly after. It looked like a Boeing aircraft and the submarine dived.
  8 Jul 1941160033° 13'N, 10° 41'WAt 1100 hours, BETASOM ordered the submarines to the following positions:

Bianchi in 2772/11 (36°05' N, 11°05' W)
Torelli in 8597/61 (35°05' N, 10°55' W)
Morosini in 8597/34 (35°35' N, 10°25' W)
Baracca in 9697/11 (34°05' N, 10°05' W)
Malaspina in 3997/54 (33°35' N, 10°45' W)
Da Vinci in 9697/25 (34°15' N, 10°45' W) (the BETASOM diaries give the position as 35°55' N, 19°15' W but this is a typographical error).

At 1608 hours, a destroyer was sighted at a distance of 10,000 metres. Malaspina dived.
  10 Jul 1941Malaspina was ordered by BETASOM to proceed to 36°55' N, 12°55' W.
  11 Jul 1941113035° 18'N, 13° 25'WMalaspina received an order from BETASOM to proceed at 10 knots to 34°05' N, 17°05' W.

At 1130 hours, a steamer was sighted and she submerged for the attack. This was the Portuguese Quanza (6,657 GRT, built 1929) from Funchal (Madeira) and the attack was aborted.
  12 Jul 1941Malaspina received an order from BETASOM to proceed to 36°25' N, 22°05' W to form a barrage line with three other submarines (Bianchi, Morosini and Torelli).
  15 Jul 1941011035° 51'N, 25° 31'WAt 2215 hours on 14th July, a steamer was sighted in 36°06' N, 21°21' W. Malaspina dived and followed her submerged.

At 2325 hours, the submarine surfaced at a distance of 3,000 metres to seek a position of attack ahead of her target. At 2351 hours, a radio signal was intercepted leaving little doubt that Malaspina had been sighted. The vessel now turned away and appeared to put her best speed to escape from her pursuer and this was a little over 10 knots.

At 0110 hours, the submarine fired a pair of torpedoes (one 533mm, S.I. 270 type, one 450mm, W 200 type) from her bow tubes at a distance of 700 metres. Before the torpedoes reached their target, T.V. Prini ordered the firing of a third torpedo (533mm, S.I. 270 type). Two torpedoes were seen to hit, both of the 533mm type. The first hit amidship, the second appeared to hit the engine room. The vessel broke in two and sank in three minutes. The 450mm torpedo was observed to have an irregular course and apparently missed ahead.

This was the Greek Nikoklis (3,576 GRT, built 1921) detached from convoy OG.67d.

Seventeen were killed and eleven survived. Prini thought they were picked up by the Spanish vessels Campeche and Campero (this was an error). In fact, thirteen survivors reached Cape Juby (Morocco), but two died before they landed. They were later brought to Las Palmas by a Spanish steamer.
  17 Jul 19411824
1700 (e)
30° 48'N, 18° 26'WAt 1645 hours, in 30°51' N, 17°16' W, a steamer was sighted in the mist at a close distance, steering a course almost parallel to the submarine.

At 1735 hours, Malaspina submerged to carry out an attack.

At 1824 hours, T.V. Prini ordered the firing of a torpedo (533mm, S.I. 270 type) from a stern tube (no. 8) at a distance of 1,000 metres. For a few seconds, the torpedo did not completely leave the tube and, when it finally did, the delay resulted in a miss.

At 1837 hours, Malaspina had reverted course and fired a torpedo from a bow tube (533mm, S.I. 270 type). It hit the vessel in no.5 hold. T.V. Prini took his submarine down to 40 metres to listen to the hydrophones.

This was the British Guelma (4,402 GRT, built 1928, Master W.G. Taylor) detached from convoy O.B.337 and in ballast, on passage from Funchal (Madeira) to Freetown.

At 1900 hours, Malaspina resurfaced to observe her victim still floating but down by the stern. The vessel had made an SOS. The crew was abandoning ship and about thirty survivors were seen in lifeboats.

At 1942 hours, the submarine fired a third torpedo (450mm, W 200 type), this time from a stern tube and at a distance of 1,000 metres. It had an irregular course and missed astern.

At 2002 hours, a fourth torpedo (533mm, S.I. type) was fired from a stern tube. It hit amidship. The vessel rapidly sank stern first.

All forty-one members of her crew and two Portuguese stowaways were rescued by the British submarine HMS Thunderbolt on 18th July.
  18 Jul 1941163030° 07'N, 14° 22'WAt 1630 hours, a steamer was sighted at a distance of 5,000 metres.

At 1730 hours, Malaspina submerged for an attack.

At 1820 hours, she was identified as the Spanish Miraflores (3,209 GRT, built 1919) from Bilbao and the attack was aborted.
  19 Jul 19412245At 2245 hours, a signal from the submarine Bagnolini was intercepted. It reported the discovery of a convoy and Malaspina altered course to intercept.
  20 Jul 19410600At 0600 hours, Malaspina received an order to proceed to 34°35' N, 13°45' W. This was reached at 2200 hours but was then ordered to 33°45' N, 14°35' W.
  21 Jul 1941060032° 45'N, 14° 35'WAt 0500 hours, Malaspina received an order to proceed to 32°45' N, 15°15' W. This was reached at 2100 hours.
  22 Jul 1941Dawn32° 45'N, 15° 15'WAt dawn, Malaspina received an order to proceed to 29°55' N, 13°05' W.

At 2300 hours, the submarine received the order frpm BETASOM to operate up to the limit of autonomy in a square delimited by the parallels 34° and 35° N and the meridians 14° and 15° W.
  24 Jul 1941014534° 32'N, 14° 33'WAt 2200 hours on 23rd July, Malaspina was ordered to proceed to 35°35' N, 12°35' W, to intercept a convoy reported by Bagnolini.

At 0145 hours on 24th July, searchlights were sighted scanning the sea, especially toward the wake of the submarine proceeding on the surface. At 0155 hours, T.V. Prini believing his submarine discovered by the enemy's hydrophones, took her down to 80 metres.

At 0245 and 0248 hours, depth charges were heard. Motors were stopped to observe the maximum silence.

At 1350 hours, Malaspina returned to periscope depth to observe that the enemy vessels were gone.
  25 Jul 1941The submarine was ordered to 35°45' N, 11°25' W. The position was reached at 2000 hours on 26th July.
  27 Jul 1941042035° 45'N, 11° 25'WA steamer was sighted steering to the NE. The submarine closed to 1,500 metres but T.V. Prini could not determine her nationality. However, she was well illuminated according to International regulations and he believed she was probably Portuguese.
  31 Jul 1941094538° 04'N, 11° 23'WAt 0945 hours, a steamer, who must have left Lisbon, was sighted at 4,000 metres steering 260°. Malaspina could not close because of heavy seas and as she was short of fuel, the chase was abandoned.
  2 Aug 1941010041° 10'N, 11° 24'WAt 0100 hours, an illuminated passenger ship was sighted proceeding toward Vigo.
  3 Aug 1941020044° 12'N, 9° 12'WAt 0200 hours, a German U-boat was sighted at a distance of 6-7,000 metres, coming from the direction of Cape Finisterre (possibly U-66?). Malaspina turned away.

5.Alessandro Malaspina (MP, I.6)7 Sep 1941EveningLe Verdon24 Sep 1941Date? 10/9?Sunk (with all hands)Sailed via Route II to operate against Gibraltar convoys. Ordered to reach the position 35°55'N, 09°05'W, on a line on Cape St. Vincent meridian, during the night of 13th September 1941. She disappeared without a trace (eight officers, fifty-two ratings and one military were lost). Probably sunk on 10th September by a Sunderland of 10 Squadron (RAAF).

Some sources have attributed her loss to the destroyer HMS Vimy who sighted a U-boat at 0555 hours 12th September in 36°40'N, 09°10'W and attacked with a full pattern but this was Otaria. Other sources have suggested that it was another attack by HMS Vimy on 21st September in 37°46'N, 19°18'W but this attack was actually on Torelli.

On 24th September 1941, a German aircraft reported seeing two ships sunk and a third set afire (from a convoy which had sailed from Gibraltar on 17th September 1941) in an area where no ships were reported sunk by Italian or German submarines, it was thought that these were hit by Malaspina. Prini was posthumously awarded the Medaglia D'Oro.
  10 Sep 1941
1100 (e)

(e) 46° 23'N, 11° 22'E
At 1100 hours, Sunderland 'U' (W3986) of 10 Squadron (RAAF), piloted by Flight Lieutenant A.G.H. Wearne, was flying at an altitude of 1,000 feet when a U-boat was sighted at about 1,000 yards, bearing 20°, on the port bow. She was steering 260° at 8 knots. Within about 25 seconds, an attack was made from astern with four 450-lb depth charges, two set to 50 feet and two to 100 feet, but the third hung up. The first fell abaft the conning tower, the second near the bows and a third at about 140 feet ahead. The Observer sighted the U-boat appearing to be stationary under the water and then disappeared without leaving any bubbles. The aircraft flew over the area for the next two and half hours but sighted nothing. It is likely that Malaspina was sunk in this attack as she was supposed to be steering 270° on the 45°40' N parallel. There were no survivors. Seven officers and fifty-three ratings perished. On 24th September 1941, a German aircraft reported seeing two ships sunk and a third set afire from a convoy which had sailed from Gibraltar on 17th September 1941 in an area where no ships were reported sunk by Italian or German submarines. At the time, it was thought that these were hit by Malaspina, but this story can be attributed to the German pilot's error. T.V. Prini was posthumously awarded the Medaglia d'Oro.

46 entries. 10 total patrol entries (5 marked as war patrols) and 39 events.

Italian Commanders

Italian Submarines