Italian battleship Re Umberto

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Italian battleship Re Umberto at Brindisi 1917.jpg
Re Umberto at Brindisi in 1917
Career (Italy)
Name: Re Umberto
Namesake: Umberto I of Italy
Builder: Castellammare Naval Shipyard
Laid down: 10 July 1884
Launched: 17 October 1888
Completed: 16 February 1893
Struck: 10 May 1914
Reinstated: 9 December 1915
Fate: Stricken 1920
General characteristics Re Umberto
Class and type: Re Umberto-class pre-dreadnought battleship
Displacement: 13,673 long tons (13,892 t) normal
15,454 long tons (15,702 t) full load
Length: 418 ft 7.5 in (127.6 m)
Beam: 76 ft 10.5 in (23.4 m)
Draft: 30 ft 6 in (9.3 m)
Installed power: 19,500 ihp (14,541 kW)
Propulsion: 2 shafts, vertical compound steam engines, 18 cylindrical boilers
Speed: 18.5 knots (34.3 km/h; 21.3 mph)
Range: 4,000–6,000 nautical miles (7,400–11,100 km; 4,600–6,900 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 733
Armament: 2 × 2 - 13.5-inch (343 mm)/30 guns
8 × 1 - 6-inch (152 mm)/40 guns
16 × 1 - 4.7-inch (119 mm) guns
16 × 1 - 57-millimeter (2.2 in) six-pounder guns
10 × 1 - 37-millimeter (1.5 in) guns
5 × 1 - 17.7-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes
Armor: Belt and side: 4 in (102 mm)
Deck: 3 in (76.2 mm)
Barbettes: 13.75 in (349 mm)
Conning tower: 11.88 in (302 mm)

Re Umberto ("King Humbert") was a Re Umberto-class pre-dreadnought battleship built for the Italian Navy in the 1880s. She was the lead ship of her class. She was laid down in 1884; work proceeded so slowly that she was not finished until 1893.

Re Umberto carried out various duties during her service career, including large-scale fleet maneuvers and diplomatic missions in Europe. She saw limited action during the Italo-Turkish War in 1912, though by the end of the year she was withdrawn from front-line service. Decommissioned before World War I, she was used during the war as a depot ship and then as a floating battery. In 1918 her armament was exchanged for a number of 3-inch (76 mm) guns and trench mortars as part of her role as the lead ship in the planned Italian assault on the main Austro-Hungarian naval base at Pola. The war ended before the Italians could carry out the attack and she was stricken again in 1920.


General characteristics[edit]

Right elevation and deck plan from Brassey's Naval Annual; shaded areas show the extent of the armor layout

Re Umberto was 400 feet 3 inches (122.0 m) between perpendiculars and 418 feet 7.5 inches (127.6 m) long overall. She had a beam of 76 feet 10.5 inches (23.4 m) and a draft of 30 feet 6 inches (9.3 m). Normally she displaced 13,673 long tons (13,892 t) and displaced 15,454 long tons (15,702 t) at full load. She was built with a ram bow.[1]


Re Umberto had two vertical compound steam engines with a total designed output of 19,500 indicated horsepower (14,541 kW). Eighteen cylindrical boilers provided steam to the engines. On trials, the ship had a top speed of 18.5 knots (34.3 km/h; 21.3 mph). She carried enough coal to give her a range of 4,000–6,000 nautical miles (7,408–11,112 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). She had three funnels, but, unusually, the two forward funnels were side-by-side.[1]


Re Umberto‍ '​s main armament consisted of two pairs of breech-loading British BL Mk I–IV 30-caliber guns mounted in twin barbettes fore and aft. These guns had a maximum elevation of 13.5° and could depress to -3°. They fired a 1,250-pound (570 kg) shell at a muzzle velocity of about 2,016 ft/s (614 m/s) to a range of about 11,950 yards (10,930 m) at maximum elevation. They had a rate of fire about 2–3 minutes per round.[2]

The eight 6-inch (152 mm) 40-caliber guns were mounted on pivot mounts on the upper deck. They were protected by gun shields 2 inches (51 mm) thick. The anti-torpedo boat armament consisted of sixteen 4.7-inch (120 mm) 40-caliber guns. Twelve of these were in casemates on the main deck and four were mounted in the fore and aft superstructures, protected by gun shields. Sixteen 57-millimeter (2.2 in) six-pounder and ten 37-millimeter (1.5 in) one-pounder guns were mounted in the superstructure. Re Umberto carried five 17.7-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes, all above water.[1]


Re Umberto‍ '​s steel armor was made by the French company Schneider et Cie. The side of the hull between the barbettes was completely protected with a maximum thickness of 4 inches (102 mm) of armor. The barbettes were 13.75 inches (349 mm) thick and the guns were unprotected. The conning tower had 11.8 inches (300 mm) walls. The armor deck was 3 inches (76 mm) thick.[1]


Re Umberto was the first battleship to be constructed out of the newly created class of the same name–Re Umberto class. The battleship and the class itself were named after the Italian King Umberto I of Italy. Re Umberto was built by the Castellammare Naval Shipyard in Castellammare di Stabia, Naples. Her kneel was laid down on 10 July 1884. After over four years of construction, she was launched on 17 October 1888. Following sea trials, the battleship was formally commissioned into the Regina Marina on 16 February 1893.[1]

Service history[edit]

At the time the Re Umberto was commissioned into the Regina Marina, the navy maintained two battleship squadrons; the Active Squadron and the Reserve Squadron. The ships alternated between the two in February of each year; in 1895, Re Umberto was assigned to the Reserve Squadron, along with the older battleships Ruggiero di Lauria, Italia, and Lepanto.[3] In June 1895, the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal in Germany was completed; to celebrate, dozens of warships from 14 different countries gathered in Kiel for a celebration hosted by Kaiser Wilhelm II.[4] Re Umberto was one of four battleships in the flotilla that represented Italy.[5] All three ships of the class participated in the 1896 Naval Maneuvers in the Tyrrhenian Sea.[6] She, along with her sisters, was assigned to the Training Division of the Italian Fleet before the Italo-Turkish War began on 29 September 1912. They were then transferred to the Second Squadron and participated in the bombardment of Tripoli, Libya on 4 October.[7]

She was laid up in Genoa in 1912 and became a depot ship. Towed to La Spezia in June 1915, after having been stricken from the Navy List on 10 May 1914, she became a depot ship for the dreadnought Andrea Doria. She was reinstated on 9 December 1915 and became a floating battery at Brindisi and, later, Valona, Albania. In 1918 Re Umberto was tasked to lead the planned assault on the primary Austro-Hungarian naval base at Pola and modified for the role by the removal of her armament and the addition of eight 3-inch guns with gun shields as well as a number of trench mortars.[1] A special saw and cutters were also installed to deal with the harbor boom and net defenses. The war ended before the Italians could carry out the attack and she was again stricken on 4 July 1920.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Gardiner and Gray, p. 342
  2. ^ "Britain 13.5"/30 (34.3 cm) Marks I, II, III and IV". 19 May 2009. Retrieved 20 March 2010. 
  3. ^ Brassey (1896), p. 65
  4. ^ Brassey (1896), p. 132
  5. ^ Brassey (1896), p. 134
  6. ^ Brassey (1897), p. 175
  7. ^ Hythe, pp. 157, 164


  • Brassey, Thomas Allnutt (1896). Brassey's Annual: The Armed Forces Yearbook. New York: Praeger Publishers. 
  • Brassey, Thomas Allnutt (2005). Brassey's Annual: The Armed Forces Yearbook (reprint of the 1897 edition ed.). Adamant Media. ISBN 1-4021-1379-X. 
  • Fraccaroli, Aldo (1970). Italian Warships of World War I. London: Ian Allan. ISBN 978-0-7110-0105-3. 
  • Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal, eds. (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1860–1905. Annapolis: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-133-5. 
  • Hythe, Viscount Thomas, ed. (1912). The Naval Annual 1912. Portsmouth: J. Griffin. 

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