Italian cruiser Amalfi

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The Italian armored cruiser Amalfi
The Italian armored cruiser Amalfi
Career (Italy)
Name: Amalfi
Namesake: Amalfi
Builder: Odero, Sestri Ponente[1]
Laid down: 24 July 1905[1]
Launched: 5 May 1908[1]
Completed: 1 September 1909[1]
Fate: sunk 7 July 1915, by U-26[1]
General characteristics
Class & type: Pisa-class armored cruiser
Displacement: 9,832 t (9,677 long tons), standard[1]
10,401 t (10,237 long tons), full
Length: 426 ft 6 in (130.00 m) (pp)[1]461 ft (140.5 m) (oa)
Beam: 68 ft 11 in (21.01 m)[1]
Draft: 22 ft 8 in (6.91 m)[1]
Propulsion: 2 x propeller shafts[1]
2 x vertical triple-expansion steam engines
22 x coal-fired Belleville boilers
20,260 ihp (15,110 kW)
Speed: 23.6 knots (43.7 km/h)[1]
Endurance: 2,500 nautical miles @ 12 knots (4,600 km @ 22 km/h)[1]
1,400 nautical miles @ 21 knots (2,600 km @ 39 km/h)
  • side: 200 mm (7.9 in)[1]
  • deck: 130 mm (5.1 in)
  • conning tower: 180 mm (7.1 in)
  • 10 in (25 cm) gun turrets: 160 mm (6.3 in)
  • 7.5 in (19 cm) gun turrets: 130 mm (5.1 in)

Amalfi was a Pisa-class armored cruiser of the Italian Royal Navy (Italian: Regia Marina) built in the first decade of the 20th century. She was a participant in the Italo-Turkish War and the First World War before she was sunk in July 1915.

The ship was the second of two ships of the Pisa class, which was designed in 1904. In the Italian classification system at the time of their building, the Pisa ships were considered second-class battleships. The lengthy construction of Amalfi began before her keel was laid in July 1905. The ship was launched in May 1908 and completed in September 1909. The ship was armed with four 254-millimetre (10.0 in) guns in two twin turrets, eight 190-millimetre (7.5 in) guns in four twin turrets, and numerous smaller guns. The ship was also equipped with three 450-millimetre (18 in) underwater torpedo tubes. Amalfi '​s armor thickness ranged from 130 millimetres (5.1 in) on the decks up to 200 millimetres (7.9 in) on her sides.

During the Italo-Turkish War, Amalfi operated with the Italian fleet off Tripoli in September 1911 and participated in the amphibious landings at Derna in October. In April 1912, Amalfi and sister ship Pisa led the way in attacks on Turkish forts in the Dardanelles. After the rest of the fleet retired later in the month, the pair of armored cruisers remained in the area to attack Turkish communications facilities. After the Treaty of Lausanne signed in October 1912 ended the war, Amalfi escorted the Italian king and queen on the royal yacht to Germany and Sweden during a 1913 visit.

At the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, Italy declined to join her Triple Alliance partners, Germany and Austria-Hungary. The country was eventually persuaded to side with the Entente Powers and declared war on neighboring Austria-Hungary in May 1915. After the Austro-Hungarian Navy raided the Italian coast with relative impunity in May and June, Amalfi, Pisa, and two other armored cruisers were sent to Venice to thwart future sorties by the Austrians. Shortly after their arrival, the ships were sent—in a show of force—to patrol near the main Austrian naval base at Pola on the night of 6/7 July 1915. During Amalfi '​s return from that mission, she was torpedoed by Austria-Hungarian submarine U-26 (in fact SM UB-14 flying the Austro-Hungarian flag, since Germany and Italy were not yet at war) and sunk with the loss of 67 men. Amalfi '​s loss caused the Italians to keep the other armored cruisers at Venice in port for most of the next year before they were eventually relocated.

Design and construction[edit]

The Pisa class was designed in 1904 by Italian engineer Giuseppe Orlando, who attempted to replicate on a smaller scale the armament and armor of the Regina Elena-class battleships then entering the service of the Regia Marina. According to the Italian classification system at the time, the Pisa ships were considered second-class battleships, but Conway's All the World '​s Fighting Ships, 1906–1921 classes them as armored cruisers. For ships of their displacement, Conway '​s considers them to have been heavily armed, but inferior to battlecruisers, a type introduced during the Pisa class' long construction time.[1]

Work began on the pair of Pisa-class ships in August 1904, nearly a year before the keel of Amalfi was laid down on 24 July 1905. It was nearly three years before Amalfi was launched on 5 May 1908. The ship was completed on 1 September 1909, just over four years after her keel was laid.[1]

As built, Amalfi was 461 feet (140.5 m) long overall by 68 feet 11 inches (21.01 m) abeam, with a draft of 22 feet 8 inches (6.91 m). She had twin propeller shafts powered by two vertical triple-expansion steam engines. The steam engines were fed from 22 coal-fired Belleville boilers. The projected output of her power plant was 20,000 indicated horsepower (15,000 kW), but in service Amalfi was able to produce 20,260 indicated horsepower (15,110 kW)—some 600 indicated horsepower (450 kW) less than her sister ship, Pisa—which was enough to give a maxiumum speed of 23.6 knots (43.7 km/h).[1]


Amalfi '​s main- and secondary-battery guns were identical to those on Pisa (pictured). On the left is the forward 10-inch (254 mm) turret; on the right, the forward port 7.5-inch (190 mm).

Amalfi '​s main battery consisted of four 10-inch (254 mm)/45[Note 1] guns mounted in two twin turrets.[1] Each of the guns, manufactured by the Elswick Ordnance Company of the United Kingdom, weighed 34.5 long tons (35.1 t). The guns fired 500-pound (230 kg) armor-piercing projectiles with a bag propellant charge weighing 186 pounds (84 kg) at 2,854 feet per second (870 m/s) at up to 2.6 rounds per minute. At the maximum elevation of 25°, the guns had an effective range of about 27,300 yards (25,000 m). The turrets were arranged on the centreline of the ship, one fore and one aft of the superstructure. The gun turrets could be rotated 150° in either direction from the centerline of the ship (for a sweep of 300°), and allowed for depression down to −5° and elevation up to 25°.[2]

The ship's secondary battery consisted of eight 7.5-inch (190 mm)/45 guns mounted in four twin turrets.[1] These guns—also manufactured by Elswick—fired 200.4-pound (90.9 kg) armor-piercing projectiles with about 71.2 pounds (32.3 kg) of bag propellent at a muzzle velocity of 2,835 ft/s (864 m/s). At a 25° elevation, the range of the guns was about 24,000 yards (22,000 m). Two gun turrets were located fore and aft of the superstructure on each side of the ship; each turret had a sweep of about 160° and an elevation range of −7° to 25°.[3]

Other armament on Amalfi consisted of sixteen 76-millimetre (3.0 in)/40 guns, eight 47-millimetre (1.9 in)/50 guns, and four machine guns. She was also equipped with three 450-millimeter (17.7 in) underwater torpedo tubes.[1]


Amalfi was protected by a main belt of armor 200 millimetres (7.9 in) thick. The 10-inch gun turrets were protected by 160 millimetres (6.3 in) of armor plate, and the 7.5-inch gun turrets by 130 millimetres (5.1 in). The conning tower had armor 180 millimetres (7.1 in) thick, while the deck was 130 millimeters.[1]

Italo-Turkish War[edit]

Amalfi and sister ship Pisa both entered service in 1909, but there is little information in sources on their activities until the 1911 Italo-Turkish War. On 24 September 1911, five days before Italy declared war against the Ottoman Empire to start the conflict, Amalfi departed from Syracuse for Tripoli as part of a squadron that included battleships Roma and Napoli; armored cruisers Pisa, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Varese, and Francesco Ferruccio; and two flotillas of destroyers.[4] Five days later, Amalfi and several of the other ships were seen taking on coal at Malta,[5] before heading on to blockade Tripoli.[6]

On 2 October, a division headed by the battleship Benedetto Brin relieved Amalfi '​s groups in blockade duty, allowing them to proceed to the east to join the main Italian fleet.[6] Napoli, Amalfi, and Pisa were joined by the recently commissioned armored cruiser San Marco, three destroyers, and two torpedo boats. The group escorted several Italian transports that arrived off Derna on 15 October. After negotiations for a surrender of the town fell apart, Pisa shelled the barracks and a fort. There was no return fire from Derna, so a boat with offers of a truce was sent in. When it was greeted by a volley of rifle fire Amalfi and the other armored cruisers opened fire on the town with their 190-millimeter (7.5 in) guns and, according to a contemporary account, "completely destroyed" the town in 30 minutes time.[7] A landing party dispatched at 14:00 was unable to reach the shore because of rough seas and gunfire from the shore. Amalfi and company then shelled the beach until 16:00. Weather conditions prevented a landing until the 18th, when 1,500 men took possession of the Derna.[7]

On 13 April 1912, Amalfi sailed from Taranto as part of the Italian 1st Squadron, which consisted of the battleships Vittorio Emanuele (the squadron flagship), Roma, and Napoli; fellow armored cruisers Pisa, San Marco, and Vettor Pisani. The squadron was initially destined for Tripoli, but was diverted to the Aegean Sea to bombard the Turkish coast. The 2nd Squadron—consisting of battleships Regina Margherita (squadron flagship), Benedetto Brin, Ammiraglio di Saint Bon, and Emanuele Filiberto; and armored cruisers Francesco Ferrucio, Varese, and Giuseppe Garibaldi—sailed from Tobruk and Augusta at the same time. The two squadrons rendezvoused at Stampalia on 17 April. At 06:30, Pisa and Amalfi steamed into the Dardanelles in advance of the Italian fleet in an attempt to draw out the Turkish fleet. Four Turkish shore batteries, outfitted with 18 Krupp guns ranging from 8 to 11 inches (200 to 280 mm) in size fired on the Italian fleet. The Italians, firing at a range of 8,000 metres (8,700 yd), returned fire in an exchange that lasted more than two hours.[8] Official Italian reports claimed that no ships were hit and specifically rebutted Turkish claims that Varese had been set on fire,[8] but a summary in The New York Times reports that Varese was hit twice.[9] On 19 April, the Italian fleet departed for home, but left Amalfi, Pisa, and an assortment of smaller craft to continue destroying telegraph stations and cutting cables.[8]

One other action of note involving Amalfi occurred on 28 April when a party of 250 men recruited from her complement and that of Pisa took the Turkish garrison on the island of Astropalia.[10] The 1912 Treaty of Lausanne that ended the war was signed on 18 October.

Interwar period[edit]

In the period between the end of the Italo-Turkish War in 1912 and Italy's entry into the First World War in 1915, Amalfi is mentioned in several news accounts that offer hints of her peace-time activities. In June 1913, Amalfi escorted King Victor Emmanuel III and his wife, Queen Elena, on the royal yacht Trinacria to the annual regatta at Kiel, Germany. While there, Victor Emmanuel met with Kaiser Wilhelm II, to discuss—it was speculated in a contemporary news report—the ongoing Balkan War. After departing from Kiel, Amalfi escorted the King and Queen on Trinacria to their next stop at Stockholm.[11]

By November, Amalfi was back in Italian waters when Admiral Cattolica, the former Italian Minister of the Marine, and the captains of Amalfi and the battleship Emanuele Filiberto greeted United States Navy Admiral Charles J. Badger at Naples on his flagship, USS Wyoming. During the Wyoming '​s stay, one stop on the battleship's 1913 Mediterranean tour, Badger returned the visits and toured Amalfi as part of his courtesy calls.[12]

First World War[edit]

At the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, Italy declined to join its Triple Alliance partners Germany and Austria-Hungary when they declared war against the Entente Powers, opting instead to remain neutral. Pressure from the United Kingdom and France swayed Italy to sign the secret Treaty of London on 26 April 1915. In the agreement, Italy promised to leave the Triple Alliance and declare war against its former allies within a month in return for territorial gains after the end of the war.

At the beginning of May, Amalfi was part of the squadron headquartered at Brindisi that included six pre-dreadnought battleshipsRegina Elena, Vittorio Emanuele, Roma, Napoli, Benedetto Brin, and Ammiraglio di Saint Bon—and four armored cruisers—Pisa, San Marco, San Giorgio, and Amalfi herself.[13]

After Italy's declaration of war against Austria-Hungary on 23 May, Admiral Anton Haus, the fleet commander of the Austro-Hungarian Navy sortied his fleet to bombard the Italian coast on the night of 23/24 May in an attempt to disrupt the Italian mobilization. Of the many targets, Ancona was hardest hit, with disruptions to the town's gas, electric, and telephone service; the city's stockpiles of coal and oil were left in flames.[14] All of the Austrian ships safely returned to port, making it seem that they had been able to attack with impunity, putting political pressure on the Regia Marina from Rome.[15] When the Austrians resumed attacks on the Italian coast in mid-June, Italian Admiral Paolo Thaon di Revel responded by sending Amalfi and the other armored cruisers at Brindisi—the navy's newest—to Venice to supplement the older ships already there.[16] Historian Lawrence Sondhaus argues that the arrival of the four fast armored cruisers in Venice should have been a major deterrent against future Austrian coastal raids, but concedes that they ended up becoming more inviting targets for Austrian U-boats instead.[16]


Shortly after the arrival of the quartet of cruisers at Venice, Amalfi participated in a "reconnaissance in force" mission near the Austro-Hungarian port of Pula on the night of 6/7 July 1915.[17][18] After completion of the mission, the cruiser was about 20 nautical miles (37 km) from Venice when she was torpedoed by the Austrian submarine U-26 at dawn on 7 July.[17][19] U-26—in actuality the German submarine UB-14, marked as an Austrian vessel and flying the Austrian flag since Italy and Germany were not at war—was under the command of Oberleutnant zur See Heino von Heimburg, and on her first patrol.[17]

Amalfi immediately began listing to port and, after initial damage control efforts proved fruitless, her commander ordered the ship evacuated. The cruiser sank less than 30 minutes after she was torpedoed. Distress calls were answered by other ships of the division which rescued a large number of the ship's complement.[19] The loss of men was reported as about 200 at the time,[19] but later reports list only 67 fatalities.[20] Amalfi was among the largest ships sunk by U-boats during the war.[21] As a result of Amalfi '​s sinking, sister ship Pisa and the other pair of armored cruisers at Venice rarely ventured out of port for most of the next year, and were eventually transferred to Valona in April 1916.[22]


  1. ^ The 45 denotes the length of the gun barrels; in this case, the gun is 45 calibers, meaning that the gun is 45 times long as it is in diameter.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Gardiner, p. 261.
  2. ^ DiGiulian, Tony (28 December 2008). "Italy: 10"/45 (25.4 cm) Model 1908". Naval Weapons of the World. Retrieved 16 April 2009.  There is an aerial photograph of Amalfi '​s sister ship Pisa that shows the turret arrangement for the 10-inch (250 mm) and 7.5-inch (190 mm) guns.
  3. ^ DiGiulian, Tony (26 December 2008). "Italy: 7.5"/45 (19.1 cm) Model 1908". Naval Weapons of the World. Retrieved 16 April 2009. 
  4. ^ "Turks seize a ship". The Washington Post. 25 September 1911. p. 1. 
  5. ^ "Italian army ready". The Washington Post. 29 September 1911. p. 1. 
  6. ^ a b Beehler, p. 19.
  7. ^ a b Beehler, p. 30.
  8. ^ a b c Beehler, pp. 67–68.
  9. ^ "Holy war may soon confront Italians in Tripoli". The New York Times. 19 May 1912. p. SM3. 
  10. ^ Beehler, p. 71.
  11. ^ "Kaiser and King of Italy meet in Kiel at regatta". The Christian Science Monitor. 21 July 1913. p. 2. 
  12. ^ "The battleship Wyoming…". The New York Times (untitled news item). 13 November 1913. p. 4. 
  13. ^ Sondhaus, p. 274.
  14. ^ Sondhaus, p. 274–75.
  15. ^ Sondhaus, p. 276.
  16. ^ a b Sondhaus, p. 279.
  17. ^ a b c Stern, p. 26.
  18. ^ "The Great War: The Italian Advance". The Independent: A Weekly Journal of Free Opinion 83 (3476): 75. 19 July 1915. 
  19. ^ a b c "200 Italians die when Austrians sink a cruiser". Chicago Daily Tribune. 9 July 1915. p. 3. 
  20. ^ "Amalfi (6103674)". Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved 14 April 2009. (subscription required)
  21. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Ships over 10.000 tons hit by U-boat during WWI". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 14 April 2009. 
  22. ^ Sondhaus, p. 289.