Italian battleship Affondatore

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Affondatore (1865).jpg
Career (Italy)
Name: Affondatore
Namesake: "Affondatore" is Italian for "Sinker"
Operator: Regia Marina (Italian Royal Navy)
Ordered: 11 October 1862
Builder: Harrison, Millwall, London, United Kingdom
Laid down: 11 April 1863
Launched: 3 November 1865
Completed: Entered service in incomplete state 20 June 1866
Struck: 11 October 1907
Fate: Scrapped
Notes: Served as floating ammunition depot after being stricken
General characteristics
Type: Ironclad ram
Displacement: 4,006 long tons (4,070 t) normal
4,307 long tons (4,376 t) full load
Length: 89.56 m between perpendiculars
93.89 m length overall
Beam: 12.20 m
Draft: 6.35 m
Installed power: 2,717 ihp (2,026 kW)
Propulsion: 1 shaft single-expansion steam engine, 8 rectangular boilers, sails
Speed: 12 knots (14 mph; 22 km/h) (using engine)
Endurance: 1,647 nautical miles (3,050 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 309, later 356
Armament: 2 × 228-mm guns, 2 × 80 mm landing guns
Armor: Iron armor
Side: 127 mm maximum
Deck: 50 mm
Turrets: 127 mm

Affondatore was an ironclad warship of the Regia Marina (Italian Royal Navy), built in the 1860s. Her name translates as "Sinker". She was an armoured turret-ship built by Harrison, Millwall, London for the Italian navy. Construction commenced in 1863; the ship, despite being incomplete, was brought to Italy a few days before the Third Italian War of Independence.


On 11 October 1862, the Italian Navy placed an order with the British shipyard Mare of Millwall, London, for an armoured steam ram, to a design by the Italian naval officer Simone Antonio Saint-Bon, but financial problems resulted in the order being transferred to Harrisons, also of Millwall, who revised the ship's design, adding a gun armament.[1][2][3]

Affondatore had a length of 89.56 metres (293 ft 10 in) between perpendiculars and 93.89 metres (308 ft 0 in) overall, with a beam of 12.20 metres (40 ft 0 in) and a draught of 6.35 metres (20 ft 10 in). Displacement was 4,006 long tons (4,070 t) normal and 4,307 long tons (4,376 t) full load. Eight rectangular boilers powered a two-cylinder single expansion steam engine, driving a single propeller shaft and generating 2,717 indicated horsepower (2,026 kW),giving a speed of 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph). Sufficient coal was carried to give a range of 1,647 nautical miles (3,050 km; 1,895 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph), while the ship was fitted with two masts, which carried sails rigged as a Schooner.[1][3] As built,[a] Affondatore carried a main gun armament of two 300-pounder[b] Armstrong guns in single turrets fore and aft, together with two 80 mm guns to be used in landings. A 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) long ram was fitted.[2][3] The ship had an iron hull, with sides and turrets protected by 127 millimetres (5.0 in) of armour, with a 50 mm (2.0 in) deck.[3]


Affondatore was laid down on 11 April 1863 and launched on 3 November 1865.[1] With Italy preparing to declare war against Austria in June 1866, the Italian government ordered Affondatore‍ '​s crew to move the incomplete ship from British waters to Cherbourg for fitting out, in order to avoid the threat of the ship being confiscated by the British. Affondatore left Cherbourg on 20 June, sailing to join the main Italian fleet which was operating in the Adriatic Sea.[2][4]


Affondatore ca. 1866

The Italian fleet, commanded by Admiral Carlo Pellion di Persano, had been ordered to capture the island of Lissa (now known as Vis) off the coast of Croatia, and bombarded Lissa on 18 and 19 July in preparation for a planned landing on 20 July.[5] Affondatore joined the main fleet on 19 July,[6] but her crew were not fully worked up and had struggled to handle the ship while sailing to Italy and the Adriatic.[2][7] On 20 July, the Austrian fleet, under Konteradmiral Wilhelm von Tegetthoff attacked the Italians in the Battle of Lissa. As the two fleets approached, Persano transferred his flag from the ironclad Re d'Italia to Affondatore, a manoeuvre that split the Italian fleet and confused the chain of command. Affondatore unsuccessfully attempted to ram the Austrian ship of the line Kaiser twice during the battle, and was hit by 22 Austrian shells.[8] Affondatore sank in a storm in Ancona harbour on 6 August 1866,[3] which may have been due to damage received during the Battle of Lissa.[9]

After refloating, Affondatore was rebuilt at La Spezia from 1867 to 1873. The ship's masts and sails were removed, with a single mast carrying a fighting top fitted in their place. The guns were replaced by two Armstrong 254 mm (10 in)/30 calibre guns.[3] In 1883–1885, she was fitted with new boilers and engines, rated at 3,240 indicated horsepower (2,420 kW),[3] and giving a speed of 13 knots (24 km/h; 15 mph).[10] From 1888–1889, she was given a new secondary armament of six 120 mm (4.7 in) guns, one 75 mm QF gun, eight 57 mm QF gun and four 37 mm revolver guns. In 1891, Affondatore became a torpedo training ship, and was fitted with two torpedo tubes. In 1904, she was assigned to the defence of Venice, serving in that role until 1907. She was stricken on 11 October 1907, then serving as a floating ammunition depot at Taranto.[3][11]


  1. ^ Saint-Bon's original design carried no guns, with the only armament the ship's ram bow.[2]
  2. ^ Ordovini et al. state the calibre of these guns as 220 mm (8.7 in),[3] while Chesneau and Kolesnik give a calibre of 228 millimetres (9.0 in).[4]
  1. ^ a b c Chesneau and Kolesnik 1979, p. 339.
  2. ^ a b c d e Chesneau and Kolesnik 1979, p. 335.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ordovini et al. 2014, p. 354.
  4. ^ a b Chesneau and Kolesnik 1979, pp. 339–340.
  5. ^ Ordovini et al. 2014, pp. 324–325.
  6. ^ "La Battaglia di Lissa (20 luglio 1866)" (in Italian). Marina Militare. Retrieved 7 February 2015. 
  7. ^ "The Battle of Lissa" (PDF). The Engineer. Vol. 22: pp. 417–418. 30 November 1866. 
  8. ^ Ordovini et al. 2014, pp. 325–326, 354.
  9. ^ Bennighof, Mike (September 2007). "Deadly Fishermen: The Battle of Lissa, 20 July 1866". Avalanche Press. Retrieved 7 February 2015. 
  10. ^ Brassey 1887, p. 354.
  11. ^ Chesneau and Kolesnik 1979, p. 340.
  • Brassey, Thomas (1888). The Naval Annual 1887. Portsmouth, UK: J Griffin and Co. 
  • Chesneau, Roger; Kolesnik, Eugene M. (1979). Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-133-5. 
  • Ordovini, Aldo F.; Petronio, Fulvio; Sullivan, David M. (December 2014). "Capital Ships of the Royal Italian Navy, 1860–1918: Part I: The Formidabile, Principe di Carignano, Re d'Italia, Regina Maria Pia, Affondatore, Roma and Principe Amedeo Classes". Warship International. Vol 51 (No. 4): pp. 323–360. 

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