Operation Aquila III

'Aquila III' was an Italian long-range deployment operation whereby the submarine Comandante Cappellino was transferred from a port on the west coast of German-occupied France to Sabang in Japanese-occupied Sumatra (9 July 1943).

Commissioned in 1939, the boat had first made war patrols in the Atlantic Ocean, sinking or damaging 31,000 tons of Allied shipping. The boat participated in the rescue of the survivors of the troop transport Laconia in September 1942, and was then converted for the carriage of strategic materials to and from Japan. Following Italy’s achievement of an armistice with the Allied powers in September 1943, the boat was seized by the Imperial Japanese Navy and handed over to the Germans at Sabang on 10 September 1943. Commissioned into the German navy as the UIT-24 and assigned to the 12th Unterseebootsflottille with a mixed Italian and German crew, the boat remained in the Pacific despite failed attempts to return to the 12th Unterseeboots-Flottille's base at Bordeaux in western France.

At the time of Germany’s surrender in May 1945, the submarine was taken into Japanese service as the I-503 with a mixed crew of German, Italian and Japanese submariners, and maintained in service as a transport. When Japan surrendered in August 1945, the boat was seized by the US Navy, which scuttled her off Kobe on 16 April 1946.