Italian minelayer Lepanto

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Italian Naval minelayer Lepanto in 1938 at Yokohama.jpg
Lepanto in 1938 at Yokohama
Career (Italy)
Name: Lepanto
Builder: Cantiere Navale Riuniti (C.N.R.), Ancona
Laid down: 1925
Launched: 22 May 1927
Commissioned: 1927
Fate: Scuttled 9 September 1943 at Shanghai
General characteristics as Lepanto
Class & type: Azio-class minelayer
Displacement: 615 long tons (625 t)
Length: 66.0 m (216 ft 6 in) (overall)
Beam: 8.7 m (28 ft 7 in)
Draft: 2.4 m (7 ft 10 in)
Propulsion: 2 × Yarrow three expansion stages reciprocating engines
2 × water tube boilers
2 shafts, 1,500 shp
Speed: 15.0 knots (17.3 mph; 27.8 km/h)
Complement: 66
Armament: • 2 × 4 in naval guns
• 1 × 3 in AA gun
• 2 × machine guns
• 80 × naval mines
Career (Japan)
Name: Okitsu (興津?)
Namesake: Okitsu-juku
Builder: Navy 1st Construction Department at Shanghai
Acquired: 8 November 1943
Commissioned: 1 March 1944
Decommissioned: 30 September 1945
Fate: Surrendered to Republic of China on 15 September 1945
General characteristics as Okitsu
Class & type: Gunboat
Displacement: 700 long tons (711 t) standing
Length: 62.18 m (204 ft 0 in) Lpp
Beam: 8.69 m (28 ft 6 in)
Draft: 2.60 m (8 ft 6 in)
Speed: 13.7 knots (15.8 mph; 25.4 km/h)
Complement: approx. 80
Armament: • 2 × 76.2 mm (3.00 in) L/40 AA guns
• 10 × Type 96 25 mm AA guns
• 36 × depth charges
• 2 × Type 94 depth charge projectors
• 2 × depth charge throwers
• 1 × Type 93 active sonar
• 1 × Type 93 hydrophone
Career (Republic of China)
Name: ROCS Hsien Ning (79)
Acquired: 15 September 1945
Commissioned: 1946
Decommissioned: 1956
Fate: scrapped in 1956
General characteristics as Hsien Ning
Armament: in 1950
• 2 × 3 in guns
• 2 × 1.1 in AA guns
• 4 × 20 mm AA guns

Lepanto was an Azio-class minelayer of the Italian Navy. She was reclassified as gunboat in 1934 and remained in Italian service in the far east from 1933 to 1943, when she was scuttled in China, during World War II. She was then recovered by the Imperial Japanese Navy and taken into service as Okitsu, spending the remainder of the war escorting convoys. She was surrendered to the Republic of China after the end of the war and served for a further ten years with its navy as the Hsienning.

Italian Navy service (1927 – 1943)[edit]

After remaining inactive at Shanghai since 1940, Lepanto was scuttled at her moorings by her own crew on 9 September 1943, after Italy's surrender to the Allies.[1]

Imperial Japanese Navy service (1943 – 1945)[edit]

On 8 November 1943, Lepanto was refloated by Navy 1st Construction Department (海軍第一工作部 Kaigun Dai-1 Kōsaku-Bu?). By 1 March 1944 repairs were completed, and she was registered in the Imperial Japanese Navy, and renamed Okitsu. She was sent to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to have her armament fitted, which was finished by 14 May.

Starting 5 June, she started escorting convoys in the Shanghai area. She was fitted with radar at the Sasebo Naval Arsenal in April the following year. On 17 July 1945, she shot down three North American P-51 Mustangs and one North American B-25 Mitchell at Shanghai.

On 15 September 1945, her crew surrendered to the Republic of China, being decommissioned on 30 September.

Republic of China Navy service (1945 – 1956)[edit]

In 1946, the vessel was renamed Hsien Ning (咸宁). Her known career in the Republic of China Navy from that point was fairly uneventful, except for the capture of a British merchant ship in July 1950. Some time in 1956, she was decommissioned.

Photos[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Rastelli, Achille (2011). Italiani a Shanghai: la regia Marina in Estremo Oriente. Mursia, pp. 127-134. ISBN 8842544140 (Italian)

Bibliography[edit]

  • "Rekishi Gunzō". , History of Pacific War Vol. 51, The true histories of the Imperial Japanese Vessels Part 2, Gakken (Japan), June 2002, ISBN 4-05-602780-3
  • Ships of the World special issue Vol. 47, Auxiliary Vessels of the Imperial Japanese Navy, "Kaijinsha". , (Japan), March 1997
  • The Maru Special, Japanese Naval Vessels No. 45, Japanese gunboats, "Ushio Shobō".  (Japan), November 1980