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X2 (P711)

Built By: Tosi Shipyard (Italy)
Build Group: Archimede

The Archimede Class Submarine Galileo Galilei was built at Cantieri Navali Tosi di Taranto. The Submarine was Laid Down on 15th October 1931 and Launched on 19th March 1934. After Commissioning the Submarine and entered service with the Regia Marina.

Galileo Galilei was stationed in the Red Sea in June 1940 as a unit of the Italian Red Sea Flotilla. During a patrol on 16 June 1940, with Capitano di Corvetta Corrado Nardi in command, she sank the 8,215 ton Norwegian tanker James Stove approximately 12 miles south of Aden following which aircraft from the cruiser HMS Leander carried out a search for her without success.

On 18 June, Galileo Galilei halted (with gunfire) the Yugoslavian cargo ship Drava, but as Yugoslavia was not yet at war, she was allowed proceed. The gunfire was heard by the anti-submarine warfare trawler HMS Moonstone and at 4:30pm Moonstone sighted the periscope of Galileo Galilei and carried out an attack with two depth charges in position 12°48′N 45°12′E, though without damaging the submarine.

The following day, after the British warship repeated its attack with depth charges, and the the Galileo Galilei air-conditioning unit malfunctioned and Nardi gave the order to surface and engage the Moonstone with her guns. At the start of the action between the two vessels, the forward gun's sighting mechanism on the Galileo Galilei became unusable. The fast-moving Moonstone scored the first hit on the Italian boat after ten minutes, killing some men and wounding Nardi. The following hit killed the crew of the forward gun, including the First Officer. The submarine's aft gun jammed, and then another salvo from Moonstone killed all those on the conning tower including Nardi. Under the only Officer left alive, though wounded (a young Midshipman named Mazzucchi) the Galileo Galilei continued the fight with the forward gun.

However, the British destroyer HMS Kandahar arrived, and Galileo Galilei surrendered. The submarine had lost 16 men; Nardi, four other officers, seven NCOs and four sailors. The submarine was then towed into Aden. Though the British side claimed that the submarine's codebooks and operational documents were captured intact by the Royal Navy, and revealed the exact position of other Italian naval units, Italian survivors (including Midshipman Mazzucchi) reported that every document was destroyed before surrender, and that no written operational orders were issued to Italian units, only an oral briefing between captains and the submarine command in Massawa before every mission. The claim was reported only to cover the British intelligence activities in Italian East Africa.

Galileo Galilei (X2) at Aden after her capture showing the damage to her fin
Galileo Galilei (X2) at Aden after her capture showing the damage to her fin

After her capture, Galileo Galilei was berthed at Port Said and served as a generating station to charge the batteries of British submarines. She was commissioned into the Royal Navy in June 1942 as HMS X2 (later changed to P711) and was operated as a training Submarine in the East.


15-10-1931 : Laid Down
19-03-1934 : Launched
19-06-1940 : Completed


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