Adventures In The Adriatic
The Adriatic, radiant in summer, with its many islands strung like jewels along the Dalmatian coast, is a pleasant sea in time of peace. With the Axis occupation of Yugoslavia and Greece, it became yet another area of perilous opportunity for the Submarines of the Royal Navy. Among the shoals off Italy's eastern seaboard and the innumerable islands of the Yugoslavian coast, where the enemy played a desperate game of hide and seek with his ore ships bound for Fiume, the Submarines carried out many adventurous patrols.
The Rorqual penetrated to the head of the Adriatic to lay a minefield, There is no doubt that this operation was fruitful, for the Italian destroyer Francesco Stocco was soon after blown in half off Fiume. Her mines laid, the Rorqual proceeded on offensive patrol farther south in the Adriatic, there to encounter one of the most curious targets ever attacked by a submarine, a floating battery consisting of two 4 inch and a smaller anti aircraft gun mounted on a lighter.
The commanding officer of Rorqual, decided to attack with his one 4 inch gun, as the floating battery was of too shallow draft to be torpedoed and the armed tug towing it was not worth a torpedo. Trusting that the element of surprise would more than outweigh the enemy's superiority in gun power, the submarine surfaced and engaged the tug.
It was a tough encounter though in its early stages the Rorqual, hitting the tug as she opened fire, gained a marked advantage, and was able to shift her target to the floating battery. The first round hit amidships and started a fire. The tug again began to shell the Rorqual, which replied and promptly silenced her, setting her ablaze fore and aft. But while those of her crew left alive began frantically to abandon ship, the guns of the battery. despite the fire amidships, engaged the Rorqual at a range of less than 500 yards and the submarine had to dive.
The captain then attempted to sink the battery with a torpedo set to run almost on the surface, but he failed. the torpedo circled and the Rorqual had to go deep to avoid it. When the captain took a last glimpse at the battery, it was still on fire amidships and had a heavy list to port. The tug was gutted and sinking.