Nine Marcello-class diesel-electric attack submarines were constructed for the Italian Navy prior to World War 2 (1939-1945) from the span of 1937 to 1938. The work was handled by CRDA in Trieste. One of the sister boats became Dandolo and she was launched on November 20th, 1937. Her construction wrapped on March 25th, 1938 and, by the time of the war, she found herself in Mediterranean waters on active patrol for enemy targets of interest.
Dandolo was laid down as a single-hulled boat and developed with ocean-going endurance in mind. This gave her capabilities beyond coastal waters and strong sea-keeping qualities to deal with the rigors of an untamable ocean. When inducted into service with the Regia Marina, she and the class stood as one of the better submarines available to Italy.
As built, the vessel displaced 1,080 tons when surfaced and 1,335 tons when submerged. She held a length of 239.5 feet with a beam of 23.6 feet and draught of 16.8 feet. Installed power included 2 x CRDA diesel engines with 2 x CRDA electric motors allowing a top surfaced speed of 17.5 knots and submerged speeds of 8 knots. Range was out to 2,500 nautical miles at 17 knots and 7,500 nautical miles at 9.5 knots (surfaced). Internally she was crewed by 58 personnel. Armament was 8 x 533mm torpedo tubes with four facing the bow and four facing astern. 2 x 100mm /47 caliber deck guns were installed for surface work and 4 x 13.2mm anti-aircraft machine guns protected the vessel from aerial threats.
Her early war patrols were unspectacular leading to her being stationed out of the French port city of Bordeaux - this gave unfettered access to Atlantic waters, a theater where, at this point in the war, there were more Italian boats than German ones active. On her voyage to Bordeaux (by way of the Strait of Gibraltar) on August 26th, 1940, she engaged the British freighter Irvington Court and sunk her, claiming over 5,000 gross tons. She also managed to damage another vessel during this time. Dandolo arrived at the French port city on September 10th.
Her Atlantic stint yielded the British tanker Pizarro on January 31st, 1941 - a vessel of over 1,300 gross tons. She left Bordeaux on June 26th, 1941 and returned to the Mediterranean Sea where she damaged a French tanker on November 4th, 1941 and sunk the Spanish freighter Castollo Oropesa on November 8th. She then torpedoed HMS Cleopatra on July 16th, 1943 which caused some damage but did not sink the enemy warship.
Dandolo was the only boat of her class to survive the whole of the war. She was sent to the United States following the Italian armistice of September 1943 and was scrapped after the war during the 1947/1948 period.
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