The Italian Navy Benedetto Brin managed a short operational service life, lost to enemy sabotage during World War 1 on September 27th, 1915.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
Italian naval engineer and future politician Benedetto Brin (1833-1898) spearheaded a vast resurgence in Italian naval prowess during the late 1800s. His early years were spent in engineering while, in 1873, he took a post as Undersecretary of State, working with Admiral Simone Arturo Saint-Bon - the then-acting Naval Minister of the Italian Navy. This period gave rise to several designs and, once in a position to do so, Brin helped to expand Italian shipbuilding prowess considerably. The Italian Navy could now depend on localized efforts to design, develop and produce the components needed to field successful surface warships on par with other world powers.
Brin lent his design talents to a warship that would eventually bear his name following his death - the "Benedetto Brin", a pre-dreadnought battleship of the Regina Margherita-class which included only the Regina Margherita herself. The design was conventional in most respects, with a single pole mast amidships centered between two smoke funnels, these themselves set aft of their respective main gun turret at the bow and stern positions. The Benedetto Brin was designed for open water operations and therefore attention was given towards achieving excellent speed over base protection. Her seaworthiness proved sound and her lack of armor was countered by a bevy of armament made of cannon and torpedo launchers.
The ship's construction was assigned to the Castellammare Naval Shipyard and had her keel laid down on January 30th, 1899. She was officially completed on September 1st, 1905 and formally launched on November 7th of that year. All told, she displaced at 13,400 tons under a standard load with 15,000 tons under full load. She showcased a bow-to-stern length of 455 feet with a beam reaching 78 feet, 3 inches and a draught of 29 feet, 6 inches. The battleship was powered by 28 x boilers feeding triple expansion steam engines to 2 x shafts at the stern for a combined 20,475 horsepower output. This allowed for a top ocean-going speed of approximately 20 knots (in ideal conditions) with an operational range out to 11,500 miles (10,000 nautical miles). She was crewed by 812 personnel as standard and this increased to 900 under a combat conditions. In terms of protection, the Benedetto Brin was served with a belt measuring 6 inches thick. Her decks were plated to 3.1 inches while turrets benefitted from 8 inches of armor protection. The conning tower and her casemates were each allotted up to 6 inches in armor protection.
Armament-wise, the Benedetto Brin could call upon her 2 x 2 305mm (12") /40 caliber main gun battery - two guns fitted to two turrets, one turret being fitted at the forecastle and the other towards the stern. These installations were backed by 4 x 203mm (8") /40 caliber guns in single turrets mounted about the superstructure as well as 12 x 152mm (6") /40 caliber guns in single turret mounts. 20 x 76mm (3") /40 caliber cannons were provided for short-ranged work while true close-range defense was through 2 x 47mm (1.9") /40 caliber and 2 x 37mm (1.5") /40 caliber guns. To counter surface threats at range, the Benedetto Brin fielded 4 x 450mm (17.7") torpedo tubes.
In 1911, the Benedetto Brin was deployed off of the coast of Tripoli before entering the Aegean in 1912. She would, however, meet an inglorious end in World War 1 due to an onboard explosion. Despite originally finding herself as part of the Triple Alliance that included Imperial Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Italy denounced its allegiance before siding with the Allied cause on May 23rd, 1915. Her service to the allies was short-lived when , on September 27th, 1915 - the Benedetto Brin was rocked by an onboard explosion that rendered the vessel a complete loss to the Italian effort. The culprits were thought to be Austrian sabotuers though some sources claimed an accidental explosion caused by an unstable supply of cordite. In any case, the blast was devastating enough to destroy the vessel where she lay and kill 454 of her crew leaving only 387 survivors. Such ended the reign of the Benedetto Brin and her exploits in The Great War. Her sister - the Regina Margherita - fared no better, she being lost to German U-boat naval mines on December 11th, 1916 to which 675 of her crew were lost and 270 survived.
The loss of both ships meant an end to the Regina Margherita-class as a whole.