The tanker Iridio Mantovani was laid down during January 1938 at the Monfalcone yard of Cantieri Riuniti dell Adriatico, Trieste and completed in May 1939 for Azienda Generale Italiana Petroli (AGIP), Genoa. She was one of three modern tankers built to the same specifications, the other two being the Franco Martelli and the Giulio Giordani, also delivered in 1939 from two different builders and powered by Fiat engines.
On November 30th 1941 Force K (light cruisers Aurora & Penelope & destroyers Lance & Lively) departed Malta to search for shipping heading south from the Ionian Sea. At 23.30pm that evening they attacked the Italian merchant ship Adriatico which was carrying ammunition and supplies bound for Benghazi. The ship finally sank at 03.30am on December 1st 60 miles north of Benghazi, assisted by an ASV Wellington from Malta. Force K then proceeded westward to intercept the destroyer Alvise da Mosto & the disabled Iridio Matovani reported off Kerkenah Bank. Earlier that day, the Iridio Mantovani, en-route between Trapani, Sicily & Tripoli had been attacked by three Blenheims (of either 18 or 107 squadron, from Malta?) at 13.00 which immobilized her, and a second air strike at 16.50 caused the crew to abandon ship. Whilst the escorting destroyer was picking up survivors both ships were attacked by Force K at 18.00pm om December 1st, both ships were shelled & sunk by HMS Aurora at a position 50 miles north-west of Tripoli (33°45'N - 12°30'E). Force K then returned to Malta. The Iridio Mantovani had been carrying 5,032 tons of fuel oil, 1,727 tons of diesel and 1,870 tons of gasoline and army personnel.
The two sister ships to the Iridio Mantovani also had very short careers. The first to be lost was the Franco Martelli on April 18th 1941, being torpedoed by the submarine HMS Urge at position 46.31N, 08.46W. The Giulio Giordani survived until November 1942, on the 17th and north east of Misurata the ship was torpedoed by British aircraft and set on fire but remained afloat. The next day (18th) the submarine HMS Porpoise dispatched the ship by torpedo at position 32.58N, 15.38E.
Built: Cantieri Riuniti dell Adriatico, Trieste, Italy (Yard No. 1204) IMO 5615034 or 5613950
Page added December 27th 2013