Operation Picket (i)

This was a British naval undertaking, intended as a diversion for ‘Result’ (i), in which warplanes of the fleet carrier Ark Royal attacked the Santa Chiara d’Ula hydro-electric dam of Lake Omodeo on the Tirso river on the Italian island of Sardinia (2 February 1941).

The covering force was provided by Vice Admiral Sir James Somerville’s Gibraltar-based Force ‘H’, and comprised the battleship Malaya, battle-cruiser Renown, light cruiser Sheffield and destroyers Duncan, Encounter, Fearless, Firedrake, Foresight, Foxhound, Fury, Isis, Jersey and Jupiter.

The attack on the dam was entrusted to eight Fairey Swordfish bombers of the FAA’s No. 810 Squadron, which launched the aircraft at 05.30 in a position some 60 miles (100 km) to the west of Cape Mannu. As a result of adverse weather, only four of the aircraft reached the target area, and made three attacks in the face of determined anti-aircraft fire. The attack was unsuccessful, and one of the aircraft was shot down.

The operation was to have been followed by ‘Result’ (i), but this latter was then cancelled as a result of the continued adverse weather.