Giulio Cesare (1911)

Giulio Cesare c.1914, soon after commissioning. The midships turret is masked by the ship's boats. Probably Regia Marina photo, believed to be in the public domain.

Laid Down

Giulio Cesare was the second of two Conte de Cavour-class dreadnoughts, commissioned 14 May, 1914. Serving as Italian flagship in the Adriatic during World War I, Cesare saw no action, and sat around in port for most of the War, since the Austro-Hungarians wouldn't come out to play. Post-War, her inactivity continued, making a few port calls, and supporting the Italian occupation of Corfu in 1923. She was placed in reserve in 1926, but was pulled out to serve as a gunnery training ship in 1928. A major rebuild was done between 1933 and 1937, in which Cesare lost her midships turret, cutting out a quarter of her main guns. However, she gained a 5.5 knot speed increase, and extra deck and barbette armor. Ceasre and her sister covered the Italian invasion of Albania in May, 1939, then opened Italian participation in World War II with the Battle of Calabria on 9 July, 1940. During the Battle, Cesare displayed good gunnery, but was tagged by HMS Warspite at a range of 26,000 yards, one of the longest gunnery hits in history. The shell crippled her boiler rooms, reducing speed, and the Italians broke off from the numerically superior British. Cesare was back in action a month later, making attempts to intercept British convoys in late August and September. Cesare was not hit during the raid on Taranto, and participated in, but could not engage during, the Battle of Cape Spartivento. Cesare took minor damage from an air raid in February, 1941, but was back to her usual inactivity. She sometimes was used for convoy escort, and this resulted in a skirmish off Sirte on 17 December, but by February, 1942, she was back to training duty. After the Italian surrender, Cesare was briefly interned in Malta, before returning to Taranto from June, 1944 to December, 1948, when she was handed over to the Soviets as part of War reparations. Renamed Novorossiysk, she was used as a training ship. Plans to replace the Italian weapons with Soviet ones were interrupted on 28 October, 1955, when Novorossiysk suffered an explosion, capsizing her in Sevastopol. officially she was sunk by an old German mine, but the conspiracy theorists like to claim it was Italian Frogmen. Ex-Cesare was salvaged in May, 1957, and subsequently scrapped.