Battle of Durazzo (1915)
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|First Battle of Durazzo|
|Part of World War I, Battle of the Mediterranean, Battle of the Adriatic|
Kingdom of Italy
2 light cruisers,
2 light cruisers
~3 shore batteries
1 light cruiser,
|Casualties and losses|
|1 submarine sunk||1 destroyer sunk,
1 destroyer scuttled,
1 light cruiser damaged,
1 destroyer damaged
The First Battle of Durazzo was a naval battle of World War I. It was fought off Durazzo, Albania at the end of December 1915 and involved the navies of Austria, the United Kingdom, Italy, and France.
In December 1915, the Austro-Hungarian Navy sent another cruiser Squadron into the Adriatic, this time to interfere with the Serbian Campaign. The new light cruiser SMS Helgoland—accompanied by five Tatra-class destroyers—left Cattaro and headed for Durazzo late on 28 December 1915, with the submarine U-15 and two destroyers already off Durazzo on patrol.
Early the next day, the Austrian squadron arrived off Durazzo and opened fire on the town, with Helgoland sinking a Greek steamer and two schooners. Then the destroyer Lika ran into a minefield and was sunk, then Triglav was badly damaged by another mine. SMS Csepel attempted to take Triglav in tow, but fouled a propeller, and the job was taken over by Tatra. The crippled Austrian force now returned slowly north.
Allied forces in Brindisi were alerted to the Austrian force, and the British sent out the Town-class light cruiser HMS Dartmouth. These were quickly followed by the Italian light cruisers Quatro and Nino Bixio, British light cruiser HMS Weymouth and five French destroyers.
The Austrians also responded and despatched from Cattaro, the armoured cruiser Kaiser Karl VI, and the light cruiser Novara, to support the returning survivors of the raid, but they did not see action.
Early in the afternoon of 29 December, the forward Allied ships came into action with the Austrian squadron which was still only halfway home. The French destroyers headed for the Austrian destroyer Triglav, still under tow, which was abandoned and scuttled off Cape Rondini, after being fired upon by the French destroyer Casque.
Meanwhile, the Allied cruisers attempted to cut off and deal with Helgoland and the three remaining destroyers. In a long-range gunnery duel fought throughout the afternoon, Helgoland skillfully avoided the Allied cruisers and reached Cattaro safely but with the loss of the valuable Lika and Triglav. Tatra suffered a damaged engine from several shell hits.