Instances of submarines torpedoed by other submarines are uncommon, but an Italian example from World War Two has been positively identified through video footage captured by technical divers – at a depth of 136m.
The 65m Argo-class Velella was torpedoed by the Royal Navy S-class submarine HMS Shakespeare south of Naples 79 years ago.
Velella, built in 1937, had been heading from Naples on 7 September, 1943 to join 10 other submarines in a bid to form a barrier to prevent the Anglo-American landings in Salerno.
But her captain Lt Pasquale Terra and his crew were unaware that Italy had secretly signed an armistice to surrender to the Allies four days earlier.
Velella sank within minutes of being torpedoed with the loss of her 52 crew – the armistice was announced just five hours after the submarine’s demise.
The war grave lies on sand 16km from Castellabate, but while the position had been pinpointed in 2003 the deep-lying wreck had not been formally identified.
The divers were from the Techdive dive operation in Arenzano, which has an impressive record of finding deep wrecks, particularly submarines. Led by Andrea Bada, they were able to carry out two five-hour dives, with bottom times of around 25 minutes.
From their high-definition footage of the intact bow, stern planes and steel superstructure, experts were able to confirm the wreck as that of the Velella.