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SMS Viribus Unitis was the first Austro-Hungarian dreadnought battleship of the . Its name - which means "With United Forces" - was the personal motto of emperor Franz Joseph I.

Viribus Unitis was built in 1910 at the Stabilimento Tecnico Triestino yard of Triestemarker and was sunk by the Italian Regia Marina on November first, 1918.

Sinking

After it was clear that Austria-Hungary had lost World War I, the Austrian government decided to give the ship, along with much of the fleet, to the newly-formed State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbsmarker. This move would have avoided handing the fleet to the Allies, since the new state had declared neutrality.

However, the now-idle Viribus Unitis and the rest of the former Austro-Hungarian fleet were soon targeted by the Italian Regia Marina. Viribus Unitis was sunk at anchor at Pulamarker by a limpet mine attached by the crew of an Italianmarker mignatta human torpedo on 1 November 1918, three days before the end of the war and only hours after command had been assumed by the new Croatian captain.

Overnight, an Italian sabotage team from a nearby patrol boat, who had not heard of the new State's creation and non-belligerence, penetrated the harbour of Polamarker and laid two 200 kg mines under the Viribus Unitis ready to explode at 6:30 sharp. The two-man team was captured and taken aboard Viribus Unitis, where they informed Vuković of what they had done (but without revealing the exact position of the explosive).

Vuković arranged for the two prisoners (Raffaele Rossetti and Raffaele Paolucci) to be taken safely to the sister ship Tegetthoff, and ordered the evacuation of the ship. But the explosion did not happened at 6:30 and Vukovic returned to the ship with many sailors (believing mistakenly that the Italians had lied). He therefore remained on his ship and went down with her and 300-400 of her crew when the mines exploded shortly afterwards at 6:44

The battleship sank in 15 minutes.

The two Italian crew were interned for a few days until the end of the war and were honored by the Kingdom of Italy with the Gold Medal of Military Valor.

Euro gold and silver commemorative coins (Austria)#2006 coinage


Commemorations

Two deactivated shells from the ship's main guns form part of the Faro della Vittoria (Victory Lighthouse) built on a hill above Trieste as a war memorial in the 1920s. This also includes the anchor of the torpedo-boat Audace, the first Italian warship to enter Trieste at the end of World War I.

A meticulously detailed cut-away model of SMS Viribus Unitis, about 6 metres long, is on display at the Heeresgeschichtliches Museummarker in Viennamarker, Austria.

The ship's anchor, as well as that of her sister ship (Tegetthoff) can be seen at the entrance to the Naval History Museum in Venice, Italy. The museum also has, on display, segments of the mignatta human torpedo used to sink Viribus Unitis.

References

  1. The assault on the Viribus Unitis
  2. Viribus Unitis - 3D: History of the Tegetthoff Class Battleships
  3. Gold Medal for Rossetti
  4. Gold Medal for Paolucci
  5. "Il Faro della Vittoria" (Victory Lighthouse)


See also



External links




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