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Battle of the Duisburg Convoy Part of World War II Date November 8–9, 1941 Location Mediterranean Sea, southwest of Calabria Result British victory Belligerents  United Kingdom  Italy Commanders and leaders Captain W.G Agnew Captain Ugo Bisciani Strength 2 light cruisers 2 destroyers 2 heavy cruisers 10 destroyers 7 merchant ships Casualties and losses none 1 destroyer sunk 7 merchant ships sunk v • d • e Battle of the Mediterranean Espero¹² – Mers-el-Kébir – Calabria¹² – Spada – Cape Passero¹ – Taranto – Strait of Otranto² – White¹ – Spartivento¹ – Excess¹ – Abstention – Souda Bay – Matapan – Tarigo² – Crete – Substance¹ – Halberd¹ – Duisburg² – Bon² – 1st Sirte¹² – Alexandria raid – 2nd Sirte¹ – Harpoon¹ – Vigorous¹ – Pedestal¹ – Agreement – Torch – Stone Age¹ – Toulon – Portcullis¹ – Skerki² – Algiers¹ – Cigno² – Sicily – Olterra's campaign¹ – Sinking of Roma – Dodecanese Campaign – Cape Bougaroun¹ – Port Cros – La Ciotat ¹ - Involved an Allied convoy • ² - Involved an Axis convoy Mediterranean U-boat Campaign (World War II) Malta Convoys Club Run The Battle of the Duisburg Convoy was fought on the night of 8–9 November 1941 between an Italian convoy sailing to Libya with supplies for the Italian Army, civilian authorities in Libya, and the Afrika Corps and a British Naval squadron which intercepted it. The convoy was named "Beta" by the Italian naval authorities, but is now often referred to as "Duisburg Convoy" after the German steamer Duisburg which was the largest ship in the convoy. The Royal Navy's Force K annihilated the Convoy sinking all the merchant ships and the destroyer Fulmine with no loss and almost no damage (Lively suffered some splinter damage). The Maestrale class destroyer Libeccio was sunk the next day by British submarine HMS Upholder while picking up survivors. Contents 1 Background 2 Italian Forces 3 British Forces 4 Battle 5 Notes 6 References // Background The Axis forces engaged in the war against the British in North Africa were supplied across the Mediterranean. The besieged island of Malta was a key British base in the Mediterranean from where the British were able to interdict Axis supplies to Libya. Allied aircraft and ships were sinking up to 60% of Axis shipping. Italian Forces The convoy included two German vessels, SS Duisburg (7,889 t) and SS San Marco (3,113 t) and three Italian - the MV Maria (6,339 t), SS Sagitta (5,153 t) and MV Rina Corrado (5,180 t). Between them, these cargo vessels were carrying 389 vehicles, 34,473 tons of munitions, fuel in barrels, and their associated crew and troops for the Italian and German forces in Libya. Carrying 17,281 tons of fuel, including gasoline for German aircraft, were the Conte di Misurata (7,599 t) and Minatitlan (5,014 t).[1] The convoy was protected by a close escort and a distant escort. Close Escort under command of Captain Ugo Bisciani Maestrale class destroyers Maestrale Grecale Libeccio, Folgore class destroyer Fulmine Turbine class destroyer Euro Oriani class destroyer Oriani Distant Escort under command of Rear Admiral Bruno Bronovesi 3rd Cruiser Division: Trento class cruisers Trieste and Trento 13th Destroyer Flotilla Soldati class destroyers, Granatiere Fuciliere Bersagliere Alpino British Forces Force K under command of Captain W.G. Agnew Arethusa class light cruisers HMS Aurora (12) (flagship) HMS Penelope (97) L class destroyers HMS Lance (G87) HMS Lively (G40) Battle Italian destroyer Fulmine, sunk in the battle The British discovered through ULTRA cryptography that the Axis were about to send a large convoy to Libya. The presence of the convoy was confirmed by a Martin Maryland on air reconnaissance from Malta (piloted by Adrian Warburton) which covered the use of ULTRA. Force K left Malta to intercept the convoy. At the same time, a 12 Blenheim bombers from Malta were dispatched over Cape Spartivento to attack a smaller convoy of two merchantmen escorted by an Italian destroyer. One of the freighters was set ablaze, but the British lost two bombers to anti-aircraft fire.[2] The British navy had the advantage of radar which the Italians lacked. Having located the main convoy they took up position with the moon silhouetting the convoy. The British gunnery was directed by radar and they fired from no more than 5,500 yards. Grecale was hit with by Auroras first three salvos and was left dead in the water, with a fire aboard. The British destroyers opened fire on the convoy itself. Aurora then fired on Maestrale, which had already been hit by Penelope. Once the radio masts had been shot away, Captain Bisciani lost much of his ability to direct the convoy escort. Fulmine attacked the British force but was hit by both Lance and Penelope and as a result capsizing and sinking. The distant covering force, despite being only nine nautical miles away, did not interfere constructively due to confusion, firing some rounds ineffectively in the dark. Although they circled the convoy it coincided with the British movements such that the convoy remained between them. In the course of the battle the British closed with the convoy which took no evasive action and finished them off with guns and torpedoes. The convoy escort destroyers attempted to engage the British force while using smoke to cover themselves but caused no particular damage. The British retired to Malta at high speed with ineffective pursuit by the covering force. All told, Force K sank some 39,800 tn of Axis shipping. Notes ^ USMM pp. 49-50 ^ Shores, Cull and Malizia, p. 325 References J Green and A Massignani The Naval War in the Medditerranean 1940-1943, Chatham Publishing 1998 - ISBN 1-86176-057-4 Shores, Cull and Malizia: Malta: The Hurricanee years: 1940-41. Grub Street, London. ISBN 0948817062. Regia USMM La Difesa del Traffico con L’Africa Settentrionale dal 1 ottobre 1941 al 30 settembre 1942 USMM La Bataglia degli Convoy Coordinates: 37°08′N 18°09′E / 37.133°N 18.15°E / 37.133; 18.15