Italian submarine fates

Ships hit by Italian submarines


TypeCargo ship
CountryBritish British

Date of attack29 May 1942Time0301
FateSunk by submarine Barbarigo (C.C. Enzo Grossi)
Position of attack7° 15'S, 30° 05'W
Complement41 (2 dead and 39 survivors)
Notes At 0237 hours, with gun crew at the ready, Barbarigo made a new attack on Charlbury by firing a torpedo from a bow tube at a range of 400 metres. The British freighter had seen her breaking surface on the starboard bow and immediately turned hard to starboard, making straight for the submarine. The torpedo track was observed and it passed under the stern.

According to Charlbury's Master (Captain William Laidler) report, the submarine crash dived, but this may have been a memory lapse. One minute after the torpedo left the tube, Barbarigo opened fire with both her main armament and machine guns, sweeping the aft section to prevent the enemy from manning the stern gun. Survivors confirm that the submarine gunfire was effective and one of their gunners fell wounded before they could reply, forcing them to abandon the 4" gun. Grossi does not mention how many rounds his submarine fired, but Captain Laidler estimated that 25 to 30 shells were fired and four found their mark.

At 0301 hours, a fifth torpedo was fired from a forward tube at a distance of 400 metres. This time it hit the target after a run of 19 seconds and Charlbury sank slowly. Gunfire was finally checked at 0312 hours.

Two minutes later, as the submarine was moving away, Grossi decided to accelerate the sinking by firing a torpedo (450mm, A 115 type) from a distance of 2,000 metres. It was exactly the range limit for this type of torpedo and, unsurprisingly, it did not hit. However, eight minutes later, Charlbury finally disappeared beneath the waves. Two were killed, the light cruiser USS Omaha (CL-4) picked up thirty-nine survivors and landed them at Pernambuco.

Position of attack

Ships hit by Italian submarines