St Stephen Revisited
Diver|November 2017

The Austrian-Hungarian dreadnought was taken by surprise by the brave crews of two Italian torpedo-boats, and the Szent Istvan became the only WW1 warship the sinking of which was captured on film. VIC VERLINDEN joins a technical-diving team to recover artefacts from the massive, deep-lying Adriatic wreck

Vic Verlinden
IT WAS A QUIET NIGHT on 9 June, 1918, when the two Austria-Hungarian sister-battleships SMS Szent Istvan and Tegettoff left the port of Pula (now in Croatia) and set course for Dubrovnik.

Neither vessel was felt to have much to fear from the Italian Navy, because they were accompanied by a destroyer and six torpedo-boats.

The Szent Istvan, named after the first Christian king of Hungary, St Stephen, was still a new ship of 20,000 tons, and to that date had fired her gigantic 30cm guns only in practice. The plan was for both ships to rendezvous with others in the fleet and attack the Allied sea blockade near Brindisi in southern Italy.

The captain and his officers were conducting a final preparatory meeting in the admiral’s cabin on the rear deck. The captain was issuing instructions as the watch-keepers got ready.

The look-outs had nothing to report, and none of the 1000-plus crewmen could suspect that all hell was about to break.

Meanwhile it had been barely nightfall when Italian Navy corvette captain Luigi Rizzo gave the command to return to base. The crew of the torpedo-boats MAS15 and MAS21 had experienced rough weather but little action, and were keen to enter port.

As it was a clear night, they suddenly noticed smoke-plumes on the distant horizon. It could only be an enemy vessel.

Rizzo ordered his Captains Gori and Aonzo to sail straight for the plumes. It was a long way, but both torpedo-boats succeeded in breaking through the cordon of escorting vessels, and went on the attack against the Austria-Hungarian battleships.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM DIVERView All

The Wreck Of The Zenobia: Disneyland For Divers

The Zenobia is one of those wrecks most divers have heard of, even if they haven’t dived it, but what is that makes some return to Cyprus year after year to revisit the site? DAVID BAKER, Chairman of Richmond Sub Aqua Club, has been asking around

4 mins read
Diver
January 2018

Light Mares XR DCT/V/S

Light Mares XR DCT/V/S

5 mins read
Diver
January 2018

Camera Light Weefine Ring - Light

Camera Light Weefine Ring - Light

3 mins read
Diver
January 2018

Well And Truly Tested

MIKE WARD does the honours as a new Apeks regulator hoves into view – and for the rest, it’s all a matter of shedding light, with new products from Mares and Weefine

4 mins read
Diver
January 2018

When Hunter Becomes Prey

When great white shark corpses started turning up with their livers missing, it took a while to piece together the story – and now South Africa’s cage-diving operators are living in fear that their golden days are numbered. RICHARD PEIRCE has this exclusive story

4 mins read
Diver
November 2017

St Stephen Revisited

The Austrian-Hungarian dreadnought was taken by surprise by the brave crews of two Italian torpedo-boats, and the Szent Istvan became the only WW1 warship the sinking of which was captured on film. VIC VERLINDEN joins a technical-diving team to recover artefacts from the massive, deep-lying Adriatic wreck

4 mins read
Diver
November 2017

Two British Divers Die In Canary Islands In A Week

TWO BRITISH DIVERS died on consecutive Saturdays in September while on holiday dives in the Canary Islands.

1 min read
Diver
November 2017

Sewage Surfer Sets Sustainability Tone

THE FIRST Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2017 finalist images were revealed in September ahead of the announcement of the overall winners on 17 October and the opening on the 20th of the exhibition at the Natural History Museum (NHM) in London.

4 mins read
Diver
November 2017

Kimo, Zico And Me, Going Tec In The Red Sea

Through good times and bad, JAMES L’ESTRANGE has retained his faith in the power and poetry of diving from Sharm and the Gulf of Aqaba, and he makes an annual pilgrimage to Egypt. This August he decided that going tec would help him get fitter, too

5 mins read
Diver
November 2017

How Well-Covered Is Your Liveaboard Trip?

So you thought the Mystery Diver had retired? Never, not while there are services such as liveaboard-booking/ price-comparison websites to delve into!

7 mins read
Diver
November 2017