Amedeo Vesco (1914- 2002)
Joined the Italian Royal Navy was assigned to the Decima Mas unit and participated in several war missions. After the war he
served in the new Italian Navy as consultant in many NATO missions; he commanded the Comsubin unit based in Varignano
(La Spezia). Amedeo Vesco retired, having attained the rank of Rear Admiral.
Operation B.G.4, Gibraltar 20th September 1941.
During the Second World War, Gibraltar was the gateway to the Atlantic and was thus of major importance. One of the pillars
of British presence in the Mediterranean, it was also a center for espionage and secret combat. Gibraltar was a strategic place,
where British warships and Allied merchant shipping found safe shelter.
The Italian submarine Scirè, under the command of Prince Junio Valerio Borghese, planned and executed a famous action in
the Alexandria harbor with SLCs, or human torpedos. They left the La Spezia (Italy) harbor on the night of September 10,
headed for Gibraltar. On Sept. 17, they arrived in Cadiz (Spain), where they embarked the SLCs (Siluro Lenta Corsa, or slow
moving torpedo, better known as "maiali", or pigs in Italian. They also took aboard the The Decima Flottiglia MAS (Decima
Flottiglia Mezzi d'Assalto, also known as La Decima or Xa MAS) (Italian for "10th Assault Vehicle Flotilla"), an Italian commando
frogman unit of the Italian Royal Navy. These were Lieutenant Dino Catalano, Second Chief Giuseppe Giannoni, Lieutenant
Amedeo Vesco, Second Chief Antonio Zozzoli, Lieutenant Licio Visintini and Second Chief Giovanni Magro.
On Sept. 20, the Scirè
arrived in Algesiras bay
(Spain), only 4000 meters
from the Gilbraltar
harbor. By 01.15 (UTC
TIME) a commando left
the submarine, to attack
the British fleet anchored
in the bay. By 03.15 UTC
time, Lieutenant Amedeo
Vesco and Second Chief Antonio
Zozzoli dove to 26 meters in
an attempt to enter the harbor.
After the explosion of several bombs,
they desisted and directed their S.L.C.
towards other ships anchored in the bay.
They attached explosive devices to the keel of
the tanker Fiona Shell, and swam to shore. A few hours
later, the 2,440 ton Fiona Shell was split in two by the explosion.
Discovered by two Spanish policemen, they were returned
to Italy because they were thought to be survivors of the
shipwreck. The Scirè returned to La Spezia on September
In recognition of this action, Lieutenant Amedeo Vesco was
awarded the Silver Navy Medal by his country.
Although the present Radiomir was not worn by Amedeo
Vesco during the ?G.B.4? mission, it was worn by him on
several other missions after the Second World War.
Or ?siluro a lenta corsa? (slow running torpedo), was a
secret weapon developed by the Italian Navy, and used to
make up for its disadvantage during the Second World War.
At the start of the war, the Italian Navy lacked two vital
elements: aircraft carriers
and Radar, both of
which, unfortunately for
Italy, were possessed by
the Allies. The S.L.C.s
were a sort of human
called "maiali" (pigs) by
the Italians, and they were
an attempt by the Italians to
even the odds. Maiale attacks
were made on British warships
while in port. In reality, the Human
Torpedo was a tubular shaped
underwater craft that held two people.
The fore-section of the craft was made up
of explosives that could be clamped to the
bottom of a ship's keel. The explosives were equipped
with a time-delay fuse, allowing the pilot and driver to get
away after the warhead had been clamped to a ship.
The craft itself was equipped with an electric propulsion
motor, making it very silent. The Maiale had a top speed of
4.5 knots and a range of 24 kilometers at 2.3 knots. The
crew wore rubberized suits as well as oxygen containers for
long periods of time underwater.
The greatest success achieved by the Maiale was on
December 19, 1941 when Lieutenants Luigi Durand de la
Penne and Bianchi successfully navigated the Maiale's into
the harbor defenses of the port of Alexandria, Egypt and
severely damaged two British Battleships (H.M.S Valiant and
the H.M.S. Queen Elizabeth). If it was not for the shallow
bottom, these ships would have been lost.
Source: The Mediterranean. World War II. Time Life Books,
A.B.C.Whipple; Alexandria, Virginia.