British Forces

7th Cruiser Squadron

  • CL Ajax (damaged)(damaged)
    Commanding officer: Capt. E D B McCarthy

3rd Cruiser Squadron

  • CA York
    Commanding officer: Capt. Portal
  • CL Gloucester
  • CL Liverpool

Italian Forces

1st TB Flotilla

  • Cdr. Alberto Banfi
  • TB Airone (flagship)(flagship) (sunk)(sunk)
  • TB Alcione
  • TB Ariel (sunk)(sunk)

11th Destroyer Flotilla

  • Capt. Carlo Margottini (killed)
  • DD Artigliere (flagship)(flagship) (sunk)(sunk)
  • DD Aviere (damaged)(damaged)
  • DD Camicia Nera
  • DD Geniere

3rd Cruiser Division

Sent from Messina on October 13th but arrived too late to provide assistance.

  • CA Trieste
  • CA Trento
  • CA Bolzano

14th Destroyer Flotilla

Sent from Messina on October 13th but arrived too late to provide assistance.

  • 3 unnamed destroyers

Action Summary

This action occurred as the Italian Forces belatedly tried to intercept British naval forces returning from escorting Operation 'MB.6', a supply convoy to Malta. The British 7th Cruiser Squadron was deployed in a extended scouting line with Ajax being the farthest out. Spotting Ajax first, the Italian 1st TB Flotilla closed and launched 5 torpedoes, all of which missed. Ajax responded with well-aimed fire, sinking Ariel and Airone and damaging Aviere and Artigliere. Return fire resulted in four 10 cm hits from Airone, one of which set a fire that burned for three and a half hours and four 12 cm hits from Artigliere which caused moderate damage. Artigliere was damaged in the exchange and lost power an hour after the action. She was being towed by Camicia Nera when the British 3rd Cruiser Squadron showed up causing Camicia Nera to abandon the tow. The cruiser York then sank Artigliere with a torpedo after failing to hit her with 8" gunfire.

Ajax had 13 KIA and 22 WIA. Italian losses are not known, but Alcione rescued 125 crewmen from Ariel and Airone.

Ajax fired 490 6" shells, an unknown number of 4" shells and four torpedoes during the battle.


  • "The Naval War in the Mediterranean 1940-1943" by J. Greene & A. Massignani
  • "Chronology of the War at Sea 1939-1945" by J. Rohwer & G. Hummelchen
  • "Struggle for the Middle Sea" by Vincent P. O'Hara

Page History

17 March 2013
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