Ammiraglio di Saint Bon
The Ammiraglio di Saint Bon was a true performer for the Italian Navy for over two decades.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
Ammiraglio di Saint Bon was accepted into the Regia Marina (Italian Navy) at the turn of the last century, prior to The Great War and the Italian involvement in other campaigns. She was classified as a "predreadnought" battleship following the industry shakeup caused by the British Royal Navy's introduction of HMS Dreadnought. HMS Dreadnought, appearing in 1906, rewrote the concept of the big-gunned warship and brought this about with improved speed when compared to her contemporaries. As such, all previous battleships came to be known as "predreadnought" battleships and were more or less made obsolete by the arrival of HMS Dreadnought. Ammiraglio di Saint Bon made up the first (lead) of two in her class, her sister becoming Emanuele Filiberto in 1901. Ammiraglio di Saint Bon saw her keel laid down on July 18th, 1893 by the Venice Naval Shipyard. She was launched on April 29th, 1897 and completed on May 24th, 1901. She was then officially commissioned on February 1st, 1901.
As built, Ammiraglio di Saint Bon displaced at 10,700 tons with a length of 367 feet, a beam of 69 feet and draught of 25 feet. Her propulsion system consisted of 12 x cylindrical boilers feeding triple expansion steam engines while driving 2 x shafts with 14,300 horsepower output. Maximum speed was 18 knots in ideal conditions with an extreme range out to 5,500 nautical miles. Her crew complement numbered 557 officers and enlisted. Armor protection included nearly 10 inches at the belt with 2.75 inches registered on deck. The turrets were protected in 9.8 inches of armor plating as was the conning tower. Casemates were given up to 5.9 inches of armor. She proved a well-armored vessel for her time.
Ammiraglio di Saint Bon's profile consisted of a single, centralized superstructure atop a wide hull design conventionally tapered at either end. There was a single mast at amidships which split the two smoke funnels. The main guns were housed in a forward and an aft turret with lower-caliber guns fitted about the superstructure.
At the heart of every warship remains its armament and the installations fitted to Ammiraglio di Saint Bon did not disappoint. Her primary units were 4 x 10" (254mm) /40 main guns fitted across a fore and aft turret with a good combined force when unleashing a broadside attack. This was backed by 8 x 6" (152mm) /40 guns which could also be brought to bear. There proved 8 x 4.7" /40 guns for additional firepower and close-range fighting was handled through 8 x 2.2" 6-pounder (57mm) /43 guns and 2 x 1.5" (37mm) guns. To combat surface vessels from below the waterline at range, Ammiraglio di Saint Bon was also outfitted with 4 x 17.7" (450mm) torpedo tubes. As with her armor protection, Ammiraglio di Saint Bon also fielded considerable firepower for her day.
When inducted into service, Ammiraglio di Saint Bon became the pride of the Italian Fleet and served in as such for over two decades. As part of the Regia Marina's 3rd Division, she served against the Ottoman Empire during the Italo-Turkish War (1911-1912) which proved an Italian victory and eventually led to the formation of oil-rich Libya. After the war, the vessel was scheduled for the scrapyard until the arrival of World War 1 (1914-1918) changed plans for all European powers. Ammiraglio di Saint Bon was pressed back into service with the Italian navy and took on a defensive posture at Venice during the conflict where Italy eventually sided with the Allies. From April 1916 onwards, she was relocated as required and where her guns could be put to best use in defense. After the war, Ammiraglio di Saint Bon served out her days in relative anonymity and was officially struck from the Naval Register in June of 1920. This time, she did not escape the scrapman's torch and was dismantled and sold off after having her armament and vitals removed.