Premuda, June 10, 1918: The History of Navy Day

(To Marina Militare)
10/06/24

Premuda's feat, which took place on 10 June 1918, is one of the most glorious episodes in the history of the Royal Italian Navy during the First World War. This extraordinary act of military audacity and strategy not only had a significant impact on the outcome of the conflict in the Adriatic Sea, but also left an indelible imprint on Italy's historical and cultural heritage.

During the First World War, control of the Adriatic Sea was crucial for both sides of the conflict. The Austro-Hungarian Navy, powerful and well-equipped, represented a constant threat to the Italian forces and their allies. The Royal Italian Navy, despite not having the same naval power, made up for it with the innovation and courage of its sailors.

On the night between 9 and 10 June 1918, two MAS (Motoscafo Armato Silurante), the MAS 15 and the MAS 21, commanded respectively by Lieutenant Commander Luigi Rizzo and Ensign Giuseppe Aonzo, left from the base of Ancona for a mission of patrol.

The two MAS were small, fast boats, designed to stealthily approach enemy ships and launch torpedoes at close range. Despite the extremely high risk, Rizzo and Aonzo were determined to exploit every opportunity to deal a serious blow to the enemy.

At first light on June 10, the two MAS sighted the Austro-Hungarian formation off the island of Premuda. With skill and precision, the MAS managed to overcome the escort patrols and get within useful distance to launch their torpedoes.

MAS 15, commanded by Luigi Rizzo, launched two torpedoes against the Statue of Saint Stephen, fatally striking her. The battleship, hit directly, began to take on water and rapidly listed. Despite the efforts of the Austro-Hungarian crew to save the ship, the Statue of Saint Stephen it sank shortly thereafter, taking 89 of its crew with it.

The sinking of the Statue of Saint Stephen it had a devastating impact on the morale of the Austro-Hungarian Navy and represented a turning point in the war on the maritime front. The loss of one of their most powerful battleships forced the Austro-Hungarians to review their strategies and reduce naval operations in the Adriatic Sea.

For the Royal Italian Navy, Premuda's feat was an extraordinary triumph that demonstrated the value of its men and the superiority of innovative tactics. Luigi Rizzo was decorated with the Gold Medal for Military Valor, and the feat itself became a symbol of Italian courage and ingenuity.

Premuda's feat remains an example of military excellence and bold strategy. Every year, on June 10, the Navy celebrates "Navy Day" in honor of this event, remembering the sacrifice and value of Italian sailors.

The sinking of the Statue of Saint Stephen it represents not only a military victory, but also a lesson in how determination and creativity can overcome even the most difficult challenges.