Operation Supercharge (i)

'Supercharge' (i) was a British naval undertaking to transfer 6,300 fresh British troops and 2,100 tons of supplies to Tobruk on the coast of Libya and on the return passages extract exhausted and wounded men (17/27 September 1941).

In an undertaking designed to build on the start created in 'Guillotine' (i), on 17 September the light cruisers Ajax, Neptune and Australian Hobart departed Alexandria for Beirut, Lebanon, to embark troops: Ajax and Hobart arrived on 18 September, while Neptune was diverted via Haifa, Palestine, and reached Beirut one day later.

The first delivery to Tobruk was made on 17 September, when the cruiser minelayer Abdiel and destroyers Hasty, Jaguar and Jervis departed Alexandria carrying supplies to Tobruk, and returned on the following day. On 18 September the cruiser minelayer Latona and destroyers Napier and Nizam made the second run with supplies and some troops, and were joined later by the destroyer Havock, which had entered Mersa Matruh to load supplies. While berthing alongside the wreck of 5,171-ton Italian steamer Serenitas, Nizam was damaged forward when a crosswind blew the destroyer into the wreck. The ships returned to Alexandria on 19 September, and Nizam was out of service for 14 days as she was repaired.

On 19 September the lighters A.2, A.9 and A.11 proceeded to Tobruk as the third run, and the schooners Kheyr el Dine and Hilmi as the fourth run. These craft returned to Mersa Matruh and completed the operation on 21 September.

On 19 September Ajax, Hobart and Neptune departed Haifa with 6,000 troops for Tobruk. The destroyers Griffin and Hotspur joined the cruisers cruisers off Beirut and escorted them to Alexandria, where they arrived on 20 September. On this date the cruiser minelayer Abdiel departed Alexandria with the destroyers Hasty, Jervis and Kimberley carrying about 1,000 troops (brought to Alexandria by ships of the 7th Cruiser Squadron) and 120 tons of stores in the fifth run. The ships arrived back at Alexandria on 21 September. On this date the cruiser minelayer Latona and destroyers Hotspur, Kingston and Napier departed Alexandria on the seventh run, and returned on 22 September. On 22 September Abdiel and destroyers Griffin, Jaguar and Kandahar departed Alexandria on the eighth run, and on the same day Ajax, Hobart and Neptune sortied from Alexandria to rendezvous with the minelayer and destroyers at dawn on 23 September. All seven ships returned to Alexandria on the same day.

The ninth run began on 23 September as Latona, Hasty, Jervis and Kimberley departed Alexandria, returning on the following day.

Others vessels which made the passage to Tobruk were the 758-ton petrol carrier Pass of Balmaha, 1,208-ton Greek steamer Samos and the lighters A.2 and A.9 carrying tanks, escorted by anti-submarine whaler Falk and minesweeping trawler Soika.

On 24 September Abdiel, Hotspur, Kingston and Napier departed Alexandria as the tenth run to Tobruk. Latona, Hasty, Jackal and Kimberley made the twelfth run after departing Alexandria on 26 September. On 27 September the thirteenth run from Alexandria involved Abdiel, Griffin, Jaguar and Kandahar, which returned on 29 September, and the fourteenth run was undertaken by the anti-submarine trawler Wolborough with the lighters A.7 and A.11 and the store ship Miranda. The latter convoy turned back to Alexandria on 28 September after bombing had damaged the lighter A.11. The vessels sailed again on 29 September and arrived on 1 October. The fifteenth run was made by the store ship Tiberio, which departed Alexandria on 27 September, reached Mersa Matruh and departed once more on 8 September and was then accidentally damaged by British bombing on 30 September before arriving on Tobruk on 1 October.

In overall terms, by this time 'Supercharge' (i) had delivered 6,308 men and 2,100 tons of stores to Tobruk, and brought back 5,444 men, 544 wounded and one prisoner of war.