The italian Frogmen

The Men Who Sank Colossal Battleships

Unable to match the Austrian naval capabilities in numbers and sizes, the Italians needed to challenge the Austrians wherever antl whenever possible. Their successes against the Austrian Navy turned out to be true miracles, considering that single individuals or units of two Italian frogmen were able to sink many ships including three dreadnaughts. They did so by using re-designed equipment such as abandoned enemy torpedoes, or by using small fast boats (MAS) with one or two torpedo heads for each boat.

On the night of 9 to 10 December 1917, Captain Luigi Rizzo, aboard his MAS-15 (Motor Torpedo Boat), earned his first gold medal by sinking the Austrian battleship, Wien. He earned his second gold medal on the morning of June 10, 1918 when he sank the se.. mighty Austrian battleship SMS Szent He used only two torpedoes launched ham his MAS-15. On this .at, he was joined by Navy Commander, Costanzo Ciano and the famous poet, Gabriela D'Annunzio.

On 1 November 1918, another battleship, the dreadnought SMS Viribus Unitis, was sunk by two frogmen. They were Raffaele Rossetti, who modified an abandoned German-made torpedo (often referred to as the rnignatta or leech), and Surgeon Raffaele Paolucci, who was also a powerful swimmer.