Виминале – королева итальянских рэков

Моторное судно “Виминале”- это еще один рэк, который мы изучали во время экспедиции в Италию. Судно затонуло в разгар Второй Мировой войны, у берегов Палми, Реджио Калабрия.

Viminale in Sydney

Некоторые называют этот корабль итальянским “Титаником”, из-за его внушительных размеров и трагической судьбы. Судно было построено в 1925 году, компанией Lloyd Triestino и моментально стало гордостью и достоянием итальянского судостроения.  Инициатива строительства судна такого типа шла напрямую от правительства, с целью внедрить установку двигателей внутреннего, сгорания на корабли, которые начали использовать в кораблестроении с 1923 года. Ллойд и Триестино были первыми, кто начал использовать эту технологию в коммечреском флоте. Было построено два похожих корабля: Эскуилино и Виминале.

Виминале, первое дизельное судно составляло 140 метров в длину, 18 в ширину, с валовой вместимостью 8600 тонн. Корабль обладал просторными трюмами и роскошными интерьерами.  На Виминале были каюты 1ого, 2ого и 3го классов, курительная комната, комнаты отдыха, читальные залы и все необходимое для того, чтобы считаться высококлассным лайнером.

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Каюты первого класса, помимо того, что были очень просторными и светлыми, в каждую еще была проведена вода, что на то время было чем-то уникальным.

В 1925 году Италия занимала 3е место по судопроизводству в мире, после Германии с 306 тысячами тонн и Соединенного Королевства с 257 судами, общим весом более миллиона тонн.

The ship made a number of voyages to Japan (Kobe), China (Shanghai) and Australia (Sydney). There, in Australia, in 1932 during the opening ceremony of Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Viminale represented the whole Italian merchant fleet.

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With the outbreak of WWII, the ship was requisitioned by the navy to transport soldiers and munitions to Somalia, Eritrea, Albania and Greece.

The ship met her fate on the 25th of July 1943, at 2:15 am while being towed from Palermo to Naples for repair by two tug boats Forte and Tenax. US Navy torpedo boat Higgins PT201 – PT218 attacked the ship and she sank. The torpedo pierced the hull at the port side astern.

Today the ship is lying on the seabed, slightly listing to the left, at the depth of 105 meters.

The torpedo boat attack on Viminale wasn’t the first one. She has been bombed by the British Bristols and has been damaged right in the harbour of Palermo by a Chariot. The whole ‘Operation Principle’, that involved an attack on the harbour that night turned into a travesty.

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On the 28th of December 1942, the submarines Thunderbolt, Trooper and P311 left the Grand Harbour of Valletta, Malta and headed for their target in the proximity of Sardinia. On the 31st of December, the order was corrected and the submarines were sent to Palermo instead. HMS Thunderbolt and HMS Trooper had received the order and changed their heading accordingly. P311 for some unknown reason failed to confirm the receipt of the message.

January 3d, 1943 two submarines approached Palermo. The first Chariot, launched from the submarine’s battery exploded and the chariot sunk, one of the divers drowned the other was held captive. The second Chariot managed to enter the harbour unnoticed and attach the charges on the enemy’s ships (one of them was Viminale) but on the way back had a problem in its motor and sank. Both divers-pilots were captured by the enemy.

The second Chariot launched from the HMS Trooper failed to find the entrance to the harbour and had to return to the submarine but couldn’t find it either. Luckily there was another British submarine that picked them up. These divers were the only chariot pilots to survive this operation and return to Malta.

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As the result of ‘Operation Principe’, the motor vessel Viminale was damaged, light cruiser Ulpio Traiano and three cutters were sunk.

It took us several days to fully inspect the wreck. It is now fully covered in marine life. This ship had traveled far but in the end rests near Italy, washed by her home waters. Once a majestic liner carrying people to the far away places, now – a beautiful wreck welcoming technical divers in the Strait of Messina.

Italian Navy pride of that era, the motonave Viminale sunk on the dark night of July 25th 1943. That night, current fascist leader Benito Mussolini was removed from power and from that night on Italy was no longer an Axis Power.

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