Largest ship sunk by divers [WWI]
Last updated: February 15, 2018 at 0:21 am
The dreadnought SMS Viribus Unitis: 20,000 t (19,684 long tons) – With the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Austro-Hungarian SMS Viribus Unitis (with United Forces) was taken over on October 31, 1918, by the fledgling state of Yugoslavia which had just joined the Allies. Unaware of the new alliance, Italy attacked the naval installations at Pula on November 1. Relaxed security allowed two Italian frogmen, Major of Naval Engineers Raffaele Rossetti and Doctor Lieutenant Raffaele Paolucci, to attach “Mignatta” limpet mines to the Viribus Unitis. The divers were captured and taken aboard the doomed ship but did not reveal the position of the mines. The ship was evacuated but when the mines failed to explode on time, the captain and much of the crew returned aboard thinking the Italians had lied. The mines exploded 14 minutes later killing the captain and several hundred of the crew.
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Jeffrey Gallant is the Editor-in-Chief and Records Keeper of the Diving Almanac. He is also a contributing editor of DIVER Magazine, and the scientific director of the Greenland Shark and Elasmobranch Education and Research Group (GEERG). Jeffrey started diving in 1982.