The first, and most prolific, attack submarine to serve with the Romanian Navy was NMS Delfinul ("Dolphin"). Lacking the local knowhow and required facilities to construct her, the Romanians relied on an Italian shipyard for the work. The submarine was completed in 1931 but not formally commissioned into Romanian Navy service until 1936, owing to the many changes required by the Romanians. It played a small role for the country during World War 2 (1939-1945) where it operated, at one point, as the only Axis-aligned submarine in the Black Sea.
Delfinul was already regarded as obsolete at the start of the war and claimed just one ship for her career - this a lone merchantman. The boat completed nine total war patrols for its part and lived out its fighting days in Romanian service under the motto "Fortune Favors the Bold".
As built, Delfinul displaced 650 tons surfaced and 900 tons submerged. She held a length of 223 feet, a beam of 19 feet, and a draught of 12 feet. Onboard were 40 crewmen. Power was from a Krupp diesel driving the vessel to speeds of 14 knots surfaced and 9 knots submerged. Electric generators provided power during submerged travel but the boat had to surface to recharge the supply (a common failing of submarines of the period). Operational ranges reached 2,000 nautical miles. Armament was 4 x 533mm torpedo tubes (all bow-mounted) and a single 102mm Bofors deck gun (this was installed just ahead of the conning tower).
During World War 2, Delfinul was based out of Constanta and this provided the Romanian Navy with a powerful psychological deterrent against the Soviets freely moving about the Black Sea. Its first war patrol came on June 22nd, 1941 and its last was recorded in late-June, early-July 1942.
The last voyage was in support of the Yalta operation where it was forced to do most of its work undersea due to a large enemy air presence. The submarine was then hunted at length and took on damage that forced her to withdraw for repairs at Galati (November 1942). In 1944 occurred "King Michael's Coup" which removed the pro-Nazi Antonescu leadership from power in the country. Delfinul was taken over by the advancing Soviet forces and recommissioned as TS-3 on October 20th of that year. She served under the Soviet Navy flag until October 12th, 1945 at which point she was decommissioned for good. In 1951, the submarine was returned to Romanian ownership but her fighting days were all but over. Her name was removed from the Naval Register in 1957 and the vessel was scrapped.
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