Modern map of Eritrea showing Massawa (now Mitsiwa'e)
"From 1935 to 1940 the Regia Marina (Italian Royal Navy) laid plans for an ocean-going "escape fleet" (Flotta d'evasione) equipped for service in the tropics. The plans varied from three battleships, an aircraft carrier, twelve cruisers, 36 destroyers and 30 submarines to a more realistic two cruisers, eight destroyers and twelve submarines. Even the lower establishment proved too expensive and in 1940 the Red Sea Flotilla had seven ageing fleet destroyers, the 5th Destroyer Division with the Leone-class destroyers Pantera, Leone and Tigre and the 3rd Destroyer Division with the Sauro-class destroyers Cesare Battisti, Francesco Nullo, Nazario Sauro and Daniele Manin. There were two old local defence destroyers (torpedo boats) Orsini and Acerbi, a squadron of five first world war Motoscafo Armato Silurante (MAS, motor torpedo boats).
The Flotilla had eight modern submarines (Archimede, Galileo Ferraris, Galileo Galilei, Evangelista Torricelli, Luigi Galvani, Guglielmotti, Macallé and Perla). The flotilla was based at Massawa in Eritrea on the Red Sea. The port linked Axis-occupied Europe and the naval facilities in the Italian concession zone at Tientsin in China. There were limited port facilities at Assab, in Eritrea and at Mogadishu in Italian Somaliland. When the Mediterranean route was closed to Allied merchant ships in April 1940, the Italian naval bases in East Africa were well placed for attacks on convoys en route to Suez up the east coast of Africa and through the Red Sea. The finite resources in Italian East Africa were intended to last for a war of about six months' duration, the submarines denying the Red Sea route to the British."
< Message edited by Tanaka -- 7/13/2020 5:09:29 AM >