Italian submarine fates
Ships hit by Italian submarines
|Date of attack||12 Aug 1942||Time||1955|
|Fate||Damaged by submarine Axum (T.V. Renato Ferrini)|
|Position of attack||37° 36'N, 10° 22'E|
|Complement||(54 dead, no survivors)|
|Notes||At 1821 hours, a vessel was sighted, which was thought to be a large steamer or perhaps an aircraft carrier. Axum dived to close.|
At 1927 hours, a look through the periscope revealed the enemy formation at a distance of 8,000 metres, steering 110°.
At 1955 hours, four torpedoes were fired from the bow tubes, at distances varying from 1,300 to 1,800 metres. The submarine went deep. After 63 seconds an explosion was heard, followed by two more after 90 seconds.
It was one of the most outstanding attacks of the war. The light cruiser HMS Nigeria was the first hit and badly damaged (fifty-four killed or missing, two wounded). The light cruiser HMS Cairo had her stern blown off (twenty-three killed or missing). The destroyer HMS Pathfinder and the escort destroyer HMS Derwent finished her off with torpedoes and she sank at 2135 hours (twenty-nine officers and 383 ratings were taken off including eight wounded). The American tanker Ohio (9.264 GRT, built 1940) was badly damaged, but her saga was just beginning and by incredible feats of courage, she would reach Malta, bringing badly needed relief.
Axum had reached a depth of 65 metres when she was first depth charged, she escaped damage by going down to 100-120 metres. The submarine surfaced at 2250 hours to witness three vessels on fire. She later received the order to finish off the stragglers, but had no opportunity to do so.