British Forces

7th Cruiser Squadron
  • Vice Admiral John Tovey
  • CL Orion (flagship)(flagship)
  • CL Neptune
  • CL Sydney
    Notes: RAN.
  • CL Liverpool
    Notes: Damaged.
  • CL Gloucester

Italian Forces

2nd Destroyer Squadron
  • Capt. Enrico Baroni (killed)
  • DD Espero (flagship)(flagship) (sunk)(sunk)
  • DD Ostro
  • DD Zeffiro

Action Summary

The Italian destroyers were being used to ferry ten 20mm/65 AA guns, 162 men and 120 tons of ammunition to Tripoli when they were spotted by a Sunderland flying boat. The British 7th Cruiser Squadron was part of a covering force for convoys sailing to Egypt when it was dispatched to intercept. Upon sighting the Italian ships, Adm. Tovey opened fire from 22,000 yards (20,000 m). The Italians turned away, but a machinery defect in Espero limited her to 25 knots. Capt. Baroni, concluding that he could not escape, courageously ordered the other destroyers to withdraw and turned to engage the British forces. Espero managed to land one 12 cm hit on Liverpool causing her to turn away before being overwhelmed with fire from the other cruisers.

Sydney rescued 47 men and the Italian submarine Topazio saved another 6 out of a crew of 225. No casualties were suffered by the British, but they had fired almost 5,000 rounds of 6" ammunition which left only 800 rounds available in the entire theatre. This shortage forced Adm. Cunningham to delay two Malta convoys scheduled for 29 June because the action had "denuded" the cruisers of 6" ammunition.


  • "Struggle for the Middle Sea" by Vincent P. O'Hara