Operation Scorpio (ii)


'Scorpio' (ii) was an Italian convoy operation, otherwise known as 'V.5', across the Mediterranean between southern Italy and Tripoli in North Africa (7/9 March 1942).

The operation was based on the passage of three convoys (with a total of four transport vessels) from Brindisi, Messina and Naples with the close escort of the destroyers Antonio Pigafetta, Antonio da Noli, Ugolino Vivaldi, Bersagliere and Fuciliere, and torpedo boats Aretusa and Castore. More distant cover was provided by Ammiraglio di Divisione Raffaele Conte de Courten’s 7a Divisione Incrociatori (light cruisers Eugenio di Savoia, Giuseppe Garibaldi and Raimondo Montecuccoli) together with the destroyers Alfredo Oriani, Ascari, Aviere, Geniere and Scirocco.

A return convoy of four transport vessels included the new 8,452-ton Ravello and 6,070-ton Unione, carrying 470 Allied prisoners of war, and this left Tripoli on 8 March escorted by the destroyer Strale and torpedo boats Cigno and Procione, joined on 9 March by Antonio Pigafetta and Scirocco. The 'Iota' and 'Kappa' convoys, with two freighters and one tug under escort of the destroyers Antonio da Noli and Bersagliere, and the torpedo boats Castore and Pallade, followed during the same day. These convoys came under several air attacks but were not hit. On 9 March the 8,103-ton transport Luciano Manara departed Trapani for Tripoli, escorted by Antonio da Noli and the torpedo boats Polluce and Centauro. The last was attacked and damaged by air attack later in the same day near Pantelleria and had to be towed back to Palermo.

The submarines Corallo, Millo, Veniero, Uarsciek and Onice were deployed in covering positions to the east of Malta, but did not have to intervene.