Operation Salient (i)

This was a British naval undertaking to reinforce Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham’s Mediterranean Fleet at Alexandria and, at the same time, deliver supplies to Malta (24/28 April 1941).

Carried out from Gibraltar at the same time as the ‘Dunlop’ undertaking to deliver aircraft to Malta, ‘Salient’ (i) was intended to pass the ships of Force ‘S’ (light anti-aircraft cruiser Dido, cruiser minelayer Abdiel and, as replacement for the vessels of the 14th Destroyer Flotilla, Captain the Lord Louis Mountbatten’s 5th Destroyer Flotilla [Jackal, Jersey, Kashmir, Kelly, Kelvin and Kipling) to Alexandria via Malta.

All of the Force ‘S’ ships carried stores to Malta, although the construction of the destroyers meant that much of the cargo they carried had to be crated and stowed on the ships’ weather decks.

‘Salient’ (i) began with the departure of the ships at 22.00 from Gibraltar on 24 April with arrival at Malta intended for 26 April. A heavy following sea caused damage to the heavily loaded destroyers and also the loss of some of their deck cargoes, so Rear Admiral P. L. Vian in Dido was obliged to reduce speed and delay arrival by 24 hours to a time during the morning of 27 April.

The subsequent passage to Alexandria of Dido, Abdiel and destroyers Janus, Jervis and Nubian from the Malta force, included the escort of an empty commissioned transport vessel, the 9,776-ton Breconshire, to Alexandria.

Patrolling in areas to the west and east of Malta, the Italian submarines Goffredo Mameli, Luciano Manara, Santorre Santarosa and Ruggiero Settimo could not intervene.