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Supermarina
Active 1 June 1940 – 12 September 1943
Country  Kingdom of Italy
Branch  Regia Marina
Role Italian Navy General Staff
Headquarters Rome, later Santa Rosa (near Rome)
Engagements Battle of the Mediterranean
Commanders
Deputy Chief of Staff Odoardo Somigli, Inigo Campioni, Luigi Sansonetti

Supermarina was the supreme command of the Regia Marina during World War II, activated on 1 June 1940. Its Army and Air Force equivalents were Superesercito and Superaereo. Supermarina depended directly on the Supreme Command of the Italian armed forces (Comando Supremo), controlling all the units of the Italian Royal Navy.

History[]

The first project of a centralized control for all naval operations was initiated in November 1934.[1] The logistics facilities were completed in 1938, and on 14 October 1938 Benito Mussolini inaugurated the headquarters.[1] The headquarters of Supermarina were in Rome, on Lungotevere Flaminio. When the capital was declared an open city, in 1943, Supermarina moved to Santa Rosa on the Via Cassia, about 20 km from Rome, the current seat of CINCNAV.

From June 10, 1940 to September 8, 1943, Supermarina supervised all Italian naval operations in the Mediterranean, the Red Sea and the oceans. Although in theory the head of Supermarina should have been the chief of staff of the Navy, the de facto commander was the deputy chief of staff. In the opening stages of the war, when the Chief of Staff of the Navy State was Admiral Domenico Cavagnari, the head of Supermarina was Admiral Odoardo Somigli. On December 10, 1940, Cavagnari was replaced by Admiral Arturo Riccardi, and Admiral Inigo Campioni became Deputy Chief of Staff. Finally, in July 1941, Admiral Luigi Sansonetti became Deputy Chief of Staff. Supermarina was divided into several sections, each of which was responsible for specific tasks such as, for example, decryption, strategic moves and communications.

Supermarina directly depended on the Supreme Command; the orders issued to the units and commands were taken in accordance with the latter. Unlike other navies, that gave ample autonomy to the commanders at sea, the commander of an Italian battle squadron was always obliged to stick to Supermarina orders, and when faced with a change of events he was to inform Supermarina and wait for instructions.[1][2] This practice caused serious problems, due to situations that evolved quicker than Supermarina could handle the situation. Later in 1940 Supermarina gave the commanders the initiative of tactical action, but mantained strict orders not to engage superior enemy forces, which restrained the initiative of the commanders.[1] The reason for such prudent instructions was that any combat losses, given the scarcity of raw materials, would be hardly replaceable. After 8 September 1943, Supermarina issued orders for the execution of the clauses of the armistice of Cassibile (transfer of all seaworthy ships into Allied-controlled ports; scuttling or sabotage of all ships unable to sail, in order to avoid their capture by the Germans) and then ceased to operate on 12 September 1943, following the German capture of Rome.

Notes[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Giorgio Giorgerini, La guerra italiana sul mare. La Marina tra vittoria e sconfitta 1940-1943, pp.113-115.
  2. Paolo Tavolini, Badoglio & C strateghi della disfatta - 1943, la caduta del fascismo, pp. 30-31.

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