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Spanish Republican Navy during the Civil War

Soviet cogitations: 316
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 11 Mar 2010, 23:13
The Spanish Second Republic was no communist nor socialist nation: it was a multi-party democratic country with the electoral victory of a socialist-oriented coalition.
When the 1936 military coup failed to conquer Madrid and Barcelona, the Nazi Germany and the Fascist Italy begun throwing massive weapon, monetary and political support to Francisco Franco.

Most of the sailors of the Navy stood loyal to the government, but a number of officers executed in the early days of the Civil War: this led to critical problems for the Republican Navy.
The Soviet Union attempted to fill the gap: advisors on each main warships, extra submarine commanders and four G-5 type motor torpedo boats (plans for more vessels never materialized).
Such help was inferior to the general support given to the Army and Air Force and could not fix the problems of lack of experienced officers.

Komintern secret armed wing also in support with few naval sabotages (see specific page: viewtopic.php?f=149&t=55177)

The Naval Warfare soon grew of great importance: despite international calls, the Italian Navy committed secret un-flagged attacks against Republican and International merchant shipping. While the rebel Navy followed the same path, the Republican Navy stood loyal to a policy of restrain attacks on merchant and international shipping considering such acts unlawful.
This article focus on the battle operations of the Republican Navy, thus describe only offensive/defensive operations involving ships of the Navy and not the rebel/Italian secret raids on International shipping.
For example, the Republican submarines almost entirely focused their activity on attempting attacks against the three main cruisers of the rebel navy (dangerous and difficult targets), ignoring classic hunts for merchants.

The Republican Navy was obsessed with sinking the three enemy cruisers that wreak havoc the pro-Republican shipping lines, seizing or sinking International vessels not necessarily involved in the conflict. Only 1938, during the largest naval battle of the conflict, the Navy sunk one of these fearsome opponents but it was too late to change the tide. With the downfall of the Republic, many exiled Republicans and members of the International Brigades saw service in the Allies during WW2 (including aviators in the Soviet Air Force!): the conflict widely seen as the final showdown against the Nazi-Fascism liberated most of Europe while Francisco Franco dispatched his soldiers into the ill-fated invasion of Soviet Union backing Hitler. With the end of WW2, the hopes of many exiled Republicans and democrats fell down when the United States and the western world welcomed in their sphere of influence the regime, because the history of zealous massacres and repressions of “communists” (and any anti-fascist falling into the loose category).

SOURCES (in order of importance): (top source in Spanish! Neutral) (top Basque source);;

NOTE on terminology: Some western authors utilize the word “Nationalist” as opposed to “Republican” to describe the Franco’s forces. Such word is a derivate from the deliberately pro-Fascist term, coined by Joseph Goebbels. While a good term should be “Fascist” (despite attempts by pro-Fascist literature to attempt differentiate “Franchism” from Fascism), this text use the term “Rebel” that is also widespread in Spanish literature.


16 July 1936
According some sources, Republican destroyer Almirante Ferrándiz allegedly seized three fishing boats off Barbate. This is clearly wrong because the destroyer was at Barcelona between 15 and 17 July.

19 July 1936
Republican submarine C-1 seized in the Strait of Gibraltar the troop transport Monte Toro (851 GRT). It is the first victory of the few republican submarines’ victories in war.
The rebels employed the vessel to ferry soldiers across the Strait but she was empty at the time of seizure. Interestingly, the previous day she sailed out of Melilla harbor towing the loyalist Republican destroyer Almirante Valdes that was by coincidence inside the rebel-controlled harbor at the time of the military coup.
Destroyers’ crewmembers, made the enemy believe their ship joined the coup, and needed towing assistance after a minor grounding to secretly escape the harbor (with complicity of some loyalist sailors onboard Monte Toro), and rejoin the Republican Fleet.
The Republican Navy however credited C-1 and not the destroyer for the actual seizure of the vessel.

26 July 1936
Republican submarine C-4 launched a torpedo and then fired 37 shells against a pair of enemy troop transports, causing at best some minor splinter damages, but this is left unconfirmed.

28 July 1936
Republican submarine C-4 damaged by coastal artillery.

5 August 1936
Republican destroyers Alcalà Galiano, Almirante Valdes and Lepanto attempted to attack an enemy convoy that was transporting troops. The two enemy transports Ciudad de Ceuta and Ciudad de Algeciras, together the tugs Arango and Benot carried 3000 soldiers and they were escorted by the gunboat Eduardo Dato, the patrol boat Uad Kert and the old torpedo boat T-19. A Breguet enemy bomber aircraft damaged the Lepanto, suffering one dead and five wounded and was forced to return under cover of destroyer Churruca.
Also the destroyer Almirante Valdes was hit by an aerial bomb and damaged and could not reach the convoy. Alcalà Galiano found the convoy alone, could not reach with her fire the merchant Ciudad de Algecires (some sources however speak about splinter damages inflicted), and was and was damaged by the Eduardo Dato and bombers Dornier, suffering 18 dead and 28 wounded.

7 August 1936
As revenge for the failure of two days before, the Republican battleship Jaime I, escorted by the light cruiser Libertad, sunk into the harbor of Algeciras the rebel gunboat Eduardo Dato. It’s the main victory and only sinking caused by a battleship during the Spanish Civil War. During the attack was also heavily damaged with a single hit (from the battleship) the enemy patrol boat Uad Kert.
The enemy will later recover the gunboat in 1937.
Photo of battleship Jaime I
Photo of Eduardo Dato in 1948

13 August 1936
Republican battleship Jaime I damaged by enemy air attack

16 August 1936
Rebel patrol boat Tiburòn attacked by Republican aircraft and then surrendered.

22 August 1936
The Republican submarine C-1 damaged in harbor by enemy air attack

31 August 1936
(Cantabrian Sea)
Republican C-5 attacked the rebel battleship Espana with four torpedoes, but did not score hits.

1 September 1936
(Cantabrian Sea)
Republican submarine C-6 faced in a gunfire battle the rebel patrol boats Tritonia and Virgen del Carmen, then joined the armed tug Galizia and Argos, later the patrol boats Juan Ignazio and Denis and finally an Italian seaplane Savoia-62 with the rebel destroyer Velasco. Despite the huge numerical superiority, C-6 could retire after scoring hits and damaged the patrol boat Juan Ignazio.
Republican sailors perceived negatively the outcome of the fight, because such intense anti-submarine activity was unexpected.
The action was the third and last success for the Republican submarines (1 troop transport seized, 2 patrol boats damaged).

8 September 1936
A mutiny occurred on the Portuguese destroyer NRP Dão and the sloop NRP Afonso de Albuquerque. Sailors were inspired by the Spanish Republican struggle and were part of the group named “Organização Revolucionária da Armada” related to the Communist Party. While both ships were successfully seized by rebellious sailors (most of officers captured), no other ship joined and coastal artillery shelled them. Both ship suffered damages, beached and surrendered. 12 mutineers sailors killed, 20 wounded and 238 captured. Leader of the revolt committed suicide on Dão.

Photo of NRP Afonso de Albuquerque; the mutiny failed, rebels and the Portuguese government claimed the ships wanted to sail to republican Spain.

10 September 1936
Rebel patrol boat Txit-Ona heavily damaged by Republican aircraft, the ship was then disarmed.

12 September 1936
After the failed attempt to liberate Majorca Island, Republican forces pulled back the last troops from the Island but left behind the landing barges K-12, K-14 and K-16 all captured by rebels.

Photo of K-8, Each barge could carry 300 troops or 150t of cargo. Bought from England in 1921 to operate in Morocco.

19 September 1936
Republican submarine B-6 attacked in Basque waters with gunfire the rebel armed tug Galizia : the enemy tug suffered from 2 to 5 direct hits with human losses and heavy damages, however the submarine was counter-attacked by the armed tug Cirizia and the destroyer Velasco. The submarine hardly damaged by Velasco's gunfire and crew decided to self-sunk the B-6 to prevent her capture. Most of crew was captured.

29 September 1936
Battle of Cape Espartel
Units loyal to the Republic, active in the Atlantic, crossed the Strait of Gibraltar to join the units in the Mediterranean Sea.
Rebel heavy cruiser Canaries and the light cruiser Almirante Cervera, attacked the republican destroyer Almirante Ferrándiz, that was sunk by Canaries with 6 hits, while the destroyer Gravina received only moderate damages because of 2 hits from the Almirante Cervera.
Of 160 crew-members of the Ferrandiz, 31 were captured while other 25 were rescued by the French merchant Katoubia.
The rebels scored an important victory, forcing the Republican ships out of the Strait and causing no further trouble for the rebel transports (even if actually the Republicans had made only a single failed attempt to intercept a convoy).
Cruiser Canaries
Destroyer Almirante Ferrandiz

9 October 1936
The rebel light cruiser Almirante Cervera sunk the Republican patrol boats Uad Lucus , Uad Muluya, and the smaller I-5 (a former customs ship)

12 October 1936
Republican submarine B-4 sunk by enemy air attack into the Malaga’s harbor.
The unit was raised some days later but never repaired.

30 October 1936
The rebel heavy cruiser Canaries sunk the Republican patrol boat Marinero Cante

10 November 1936
(Cantabrian Sea)
During an air raid in Bilbao harbor, the Republican submarine C-2 claimed to have shot down an attacking enemy bomber.
The claim is so far unconfirmed, and if indeed the rebels lost a plane, other reasons should be taken in consideration too (other ships’ fire, ground AA batteries etc.).

15 November 1936
(Cantabrian Sea)
The Basque armed trawlers Mistral (later renamed Gipuzkoa) and Heuzkal Herria (later renamed Bizkaya) faced and forced to retreat the enemy destroyer Velasco that suffered some damages with one wounded, while also the Mistral suffered some damages with two wounded. It was the first and main engagement won by the small Basque Navy against the stronger enemy.
Mistral with Heuzkal Herria and also Vendaval (later renamed Nabarra) behind her)

22 November 1936
Republican light cruiser Miguel de Cervantes damaged with a torpedo by the Italian submarine Torricelli

6 December 1936
(Cantabrian Sea)
Rebel armed trawler Virgen del Carmen defected to the Republicans and joined the Basque Navy with the name Donostia.

12 December 1936
Republican submarine C-3 sunk by the German submarine U-34 with torpedo.
Only 3 sailors survived, at first the Republican Navy thought it was an accident, later it was believed that an Italian submarine was responsible of the attack. Only after the WWII it was discovered that was a German attack

20 December 1936
(Cantabrian Sea)
Republican warships usually were never involved in attacks or seizure of merchants (differently from the rebels). However, the Basques attempted a similar activity: the armed trawler Bizkaya seized the German merchant Pluto, however the Republican command ordered to release immediately the ship.

23 December 1936
(Cantabrian Sea)
The Basque armed trawler Bizkaya seized the German merchant Palos. Once again, by political decision the ship released (5 days later), but part of cargo confiscated.


Night between 26 and 27 December 1936
Italian submarine Tazzoli was damaged with depth charges by the Republican destroyers Almirante Valdes and Lazaga, after an unsuccessfully torpedo attack. It was the first successful attack with depth charges by Republican destroyers.

31 December 1936
(Cantabrian Sea)
Republican submarine C-5 disappeared after leaving the harbor of Bilbao. Like the loss of B-5, there has been speculation over an intentional sabotage action of the commander. However, there is little proof for this theory and the most likely reason remain an accident due the general age of the vessel and the difficulties in maintaining the submarines operative.

3 January 1937
(Cantabrian Sea)
Inconclusive clash between the republican destroyer Josè Luiz Diez with the rebel patrol boat Galerna.

7-8 January 1937
(Cantabrian Sea)
The Basque armed trawlers Gipuzkoa and Nabarra together the destroyer Josè Luiz Diez, fought against the rebel destroyer Velasco that was escorting the merchant Genoveva (used as mine-carrier, with 100 mines). The Nabarra suffered 3 hits and a fire, but the enemy retreated to not risk losing the merchant.

14 January 1937
Rebel heavy cruiser Canaries hit by a 100kg bomb launched by a soviet-made SB-2 bomber, causing moderate damages.

17 January 1937
(Cantabrian Sea)
The Basque armed trawler Goizeko Izarra sunk by a mine

18 January 1937
(Cantabrian Sea)
The Basque auxiliary minesweeper Mary-Toya sunk by mine (6 KIA).

7 February 1937
The Republican patrol boat Artabro sunk by enemy air raids in the harbor of Malaga.

8 February 1937
The Republican minesweeper Xauen sunk by enemy air raids in the harbor of Malaga.

14 February 1937
The Italian light cruiser Emanuele Filiberto Duca d’Aosta made one of the many secret Italian operations against the Spanish Republic, randomly shelling Valencia. During the bombing (25 people killed), the Republican gunboat Laya returned fire from the harbor, scoring one hit on the cruiser (no casualties) with minor damages.

Photo of cruiser, the surface secret raids of the Italian Navy have been hidden for decades! Republicans believed it was Baleares or Canaries.
While the damage was not serious, the smaller gunboat proved a relatively accurate firing scoring hit on the enemy without suffering damage.

21 February 1937
(Cantabrian Sea)
Republican submarine C-6 suffered damages because of an enemy air attack while on patrol in open sea.

5 March 1937
(Cantabrian Sea)
Battle of Cape Machichaco
Rebel heavy cruiser Canaries, near the Basque coast, encounters the armed Basque trawlers Gipuzkoa, Bizkaya, Nabarra and the smaller Donostia escorting the merchant Galdames (full of civilians).
There was a gunfire battle, the Gipuzkoa was damaged with 5 dead and 12 wounded, but with the help of a coastal battery the enemy retreated and the damaged ship (which extinguished a fire on board) was saved. Also the Gipuzkoa managed to cause minor damages to the Canaries, causing one dead and one wounded.
Saving the Gipuzkoa.

The Bizkaya had the opportunity to recover the merchant Yorkbrook (that has been previously seized by Canaries), but Canaries began shooting again.
Bizkaya recover the merchant

The enemy cruiser hit the Galdames , killing a woman and 3 children and forcing the ship to surrender.
After few shells against Donostia, the cruiser finally focused on Nabarra , sinking her with 29 dead, including the commander, despite a brave resistance.
Last battle of Nabarra

20 sailors of Nabarra were captured, they were going to be executed but thanks the personal request of Canaries' commander, they were spared.
While the recovering of Yorkbrook allowed to evacuate many civilians when the Italian and rebel army attacked the Basque militias and captured Bilbao, the capture of Galdemas was a sad event. One man shot by rebels still on board when he attempted to leave the ship, later other refugees would be killed including Manuel Carrasco Formiguera (a member of the Basque Government).

15 April 1937
Republican submarine B-5 disappeared on sea. While it is common the theory of a direct suicidal sabotage of the same commander (later praised by the Franco’s regime postwar for this alleged action), the most obvious reason of the loss remains the poor state of the vessel that reported leaks during the previous navigation.

25 April 1937
An inconclusive meeting between the German light cruiser Leipzig and the Republican destroyer Sanchez Barcaiztegui.

30 April 1937
Rebel battleship Espana was struck by a rebel mine laid by the minelayer Jupiter near Bilbao and started sinking with only 5 dead.
A group of Republican bombers Gourdou GL.633 attacked the sinking ship and the pilot Miguel Zambudio scored at least a single direct hit with a 100kg bomb. The loss of the battleship had mainly a moral and propagandistic value (her combat value wasn't high).
Photo of battleship Espana

1 May 1937
(Cantabrian Sea)
Inconclusive skirmish between the Republican destroyer Ciscar and the rebel patrol boat Galerna.

7 May 1937
Rebel motor torpedo boat Javier Quiroga sunk near Gibralter because of an accidental collision with the sister unit Candido Perez (both were former Italian MAS units).

12 May 1937
(Cantabrian Sea)
Again the Republican submarine C-6 under the command of the Soviet officer Ivan Alekseievich Burmistrov, suffered damages because of an enemy air attack in harbor.

21 May 1937
Republican battleship Jaime I, was damaged by three bombs during an Italian air attack. On ship was present the soviet advisor A.P.Labuid.

(Cantabrian Sea)
On the same day, Republican destroyer Ciscar accidentally rammed and sunk the small Basque auxiliary minesweeper D-18

25 May 1937
Italian auxiliary cruiser (armed merchant) Barletta was damaged by Republican Air Force, with 7 dead and many wounded.

28 May 1937
German battleship (sometimes classified as heavy cruiser or pocket battleship), Deutschland badly damaged by a Republican ex-soviet Tupolev SB-2 bomber, there were 31 dead and 74 wounded. Crew of the aircraft were the soviets Captain Anton Progrorin and Lt. Vassily Schmidt.
As retaliation, the German battleship Admiral Scheer made a violent bombing of civilian targets causing 19 killed and 55 wounded in Almeira.
Photo of battleship Deutschland.

10 June 1937
(Cantabrian Sea)
In Basque waters there was a short inconclusive battle between Republican destroyers Ciscar and Josè Luis Diez against the light rebel cruiser Almirante Cervera. No damages on both sides.
Interestingly, both destroyers received Basque crewmembers on 31 May replacing the Spaniards sailors.

13 June 1937
(Cantabrian Sea)
A rebel air raid in Portugalete harbor sunk the small Basque auxiliary minesweepers D-14, and D-24. D-20 was a total loss, and the small minesweeping launch L-2 sunk.

17 June 1937
Republican battleship Jaime I exploded with the death of up 300 sailors (other lowest estimates say about of 80-170 killed and 150-200 wounded). Causes of sinking are unclear: it has been suggested a sabotage, but it's probable that it was actually an accidental inner detonation. The ship was old and her combat value was low (especially after the loss of the sister-ship Espana, in rebel hands).
Moreover it was the light cruiser Libertad that had took the effective role of flag-ship of the Republican Navy.
Soviet advisor on the ship was V.L. Bogdenko (that had replaced A.P. Labuid) and survived.
The wreck of the ship was recovered but could not be repaired.
Photo of battleship Jaime I

18 June 1937
Rebel motor torpedo boat Falange sunk by accidental fire in Malaga harbor. . It was a former German unit.

(Cantabrian Sea)
On the same day, the rebel light cruiser Almirante Cervara, alongside patrol boats Galerna, Ciriza and Fantastico, attacked the Basque armed trawlers retreating to Santoña. The armed trawler Gipuzkoa suffered 1 killed and 3 wounded, while Bizkaya briefly returned fire without effect. A third Basque vessel, the Iparreki Izarra, did not engaged the enemy.

20 June 1937
(Cantabrian Sea)
Republican submarine C-6 under the command of the Soviet officer Ivan Alekseievich Burmistrov launched two torpedoes against the light cruiser Almirante Cervera, without results.

12 July 1937
Republican destroyers Lepanto, Churruca, Almirante Miranda, Almirante Valdes, Gravina (with soviet advisor V.L.Bogdenko) and Sanchez Baircaztegui escorting the tanker Campillo, had a short battle against the heavy cruiser Baleares. No damages on both sides.
After the engagement, ex-soviet Republican motor torpedo boats led by the soviet commander Y.N. Uzhvenko made an unsuccessful torpedo attack, launching 3 torpedoes against Baleares.

13 July 1937
According some sources the Republican destroyer Churruca seized in Gibraltar strait the rebel merchant Cala Mitjana (cargo of sugar) according some sources.
While also reported by press of the time, this appears wrong: Churruca spent the days between 9 and 19 July she patrolled Valencia area, taking part at the clash with cruiser Baleares.

30 July 1937
Republican motor torpedo boats n°31 and n°41 damaged by enemy aircrafts He-59 attacked by German He-59 seaplanes.
A Spanish sailor died on n°31, three soviets were wounded together a Spaniard. On n°41 there were two Spaniards wounded but the unit was lost due heavy damages.
The Republican Navy had received only 4 former soviet motor torpedo boats of G-5 class (other units never reached Spain, despite plans, also plans to build units directly in Spain were never accomplished).
A German He-59 seaplane suffered damage by naval fire, forced to splash down but successfully recovered by rebel Navy.
It is unclear if motor torpedo boats responsible for this, Soviet advisors lamented ineffective defensive fire but still they could have scored hits.
It is also possible the seaplane suffered damages attacking the Republican destroyers Escano and Almirante Valdes.

10 August 1937
(Cantabrian Sea)
Short battle near Gijon between the rebel minelayer Jupiter and the Republican destroyer Ciscar. The Jupiter suffered a hit with some damages and escaped. The enemy cruiser Almirante Cervera could not reach in time the place of the clash.

12 August 1937
Republican destroyers Churruca and Alcalà Galiano, attacked by the Italian submarine Jalea, one torpedo damaged the Churruca, but the ship towed to safety by the second destroyer. Churruca suffered 4 dead and 8 wounded, on ship was present the soviet advisor S.D.Solouchin.

14 August 1937
(Cantabrian Sea)
The small Basque auxiliary minesweeper D-17 sunk by accident.

20 August 1937
Republican destroyer Lazaga missed by torpedo launched by the Italian submarine Finzi, the submarine was counter-attacked and lightly damaged with depth charges.

24 August 1937
(Cantabrian Sea)
Republican submarine C-6 under the command of the Soviet officer Ivan Alekseievich Burmistrov suffered damages due depth charges by the rebel heavy cruiser Baleares. Some sources report that C-6 attacked the cruiser with torpedoes, but this appears wrong (even if that was the likely commander’s intention).

25 August 1937
The Republican destroyer Josè Luiz Diez while sailing to attempt reaching Mediterranean Sea, encountered the rebel trawlers San Fausto (103 GRT) and Con (107 GRT): both shelled and sunk and 24 sailors captured. This rare attack committed by the Republican destroyer to protect the secrecy of her voyage.

27 August 1938
The Republican destroyer Josè Luiz Diez, with a (fake) number to resemble a British destroyer, tried to reach the Mediterranean Sea: she was attacked by the rebel heavy cruiser Canaries , causing some damages and trapping the destroyer in Gibraltar waters. During the battle there were also the cruiser Navarra, Almirante Cervera, the minelayer Jupiter and the destroyers Huesca, Ceueta and Melilla. Destroyer suffered 2 killed, 6 missing and 10 wounded but also the 24 fishermen captured previously died when their room was flooded by leak.

28 August 1937
(Cantabrian Sea)
Republican submarine C-4 damaged in harbor by enemy air attack, partially repaired by the crew directly on the place. She was under command of soviet captain Kuzmin.

7 September 1937
Battle of Cape Cherchell
Republican light cruisers Libertad and Mendez Nunez, were escorting a convoy (four merchants: Aldecoa, Antonio Satrùstegui, Mar Caribe, Mar Blanco) together the destroyers Lepanto, Almirante Valdes, Almirante Antequera, Gravina, Jorge Jouan, Almirante Miranda and Escano. Suddenly the rebel heavy cruiser Baleares attacked.
During the battle, Libertad scored first one or two hits on the enemy, and then other two direct hits and the Baleares was forced to retreat with 3 dead and 26 wounded.
Some sources claim that Libertad suffered a minor hit without real damage, but this is unconfirmed (at the worst it was a splinter).
Soviet advisor on Libertad was V.A. Alafuzov.
After the engagement, an Italian air attack, scored only one bomb hit on the destroyer Escano that suffered little damage.
For the first time the best warships of the Republican Navy, confronted and defeated a modern enemy naval unit.
The engagement however even if it was tactically a victory, had a strategic failure because the merchant ships were left alone: one grounded by accident in Algerian waters and the other one was forced to take shelter in Algerian harbor , being interned by French.
Both merchants could not reach Republican waters.
Heavy cruiser Baleares
Light cruiser Libertad

13 September 1937
(Cantabrian Sea)
According some sources, the loss of the old rebel torpedo boat T-2 (officially due grounding) could have been related to a torpedo attack made by Republican submarine C-6 under command of soviet Ivan Alekseievich Burmistrov. There is no confirmation however about an involvement of the submarine. This theory so far lacks of solid proof of claim of Republican action, official rebel records reports no enemy presence.

17 September 1937
Republican destroyers Almirante Antequera, Escano, Gravina and Sanchez Barcaiztegui had a short battle against the heavy cruiser Canaries, while escorting the merchants Jaime II and JJ Sister. Almirante Antequera launched 2 torpedoes without effect. The soviet advisor I.Eliseev insisted to prolong the fight and even if a single enemy shell caused minor damages on Sanchez Barcaiztegui : this destroyer launched 4 torpedoes missing the Canaries, but forcing her to retreat. The destroyers however retreated leaving the merchants Jaime-II (1370 GRT) and Juan J. Sister (1554 GRT) unprotected and both were seized by enemy.

10 October 1937
Republican blockade-runner Cabo Santo Tomè was attacked by the Nationalist rebel gunboats Eduardo Dato and Cánovas del Castillo. The Republican ship was armed only with 45mm and after some resistance she was badly damaged and grounded, the crew finally scuttled the ship. During the engagement the Republicans suffered 1 dead and 7 wounded. NOTE: this article do not include attacks on merchants, but Cabo Santo Tomè was effectively one of the 10 officially rated “Blockaded Runners” of the Navy, plus another vessel used for such role but rated as “auxiliary cruiser”.

15 October 1937
(Cantabrian Sea)
Republican submarine C-6 under the command of Soviet officer Ivan Alekseievich Burmistrov, launched two torpedoes against rebel minelayer Jupiter, but missed the enemy. Some sources claims that the submarine damaged in following depth charges attack, but this is unconfirmed.

20 October 1937
(Cantabrian Sea)
Republican submarine C-6 under the command of Soviet officer Ivan Alekseievich Burmistrov, badly damaged in harbor by enemy attack and finally scuttled by crew.

21 October 1937
(Cantabrian Sea)
Republican destroyer Ciscar sunk by an enemy air attack into the Gjion's harbor.

23 January 1939
Republican patrol boat C-17 sunk in Barcelona due enemy air raid.

17 February 1938
Rebel light cruiser Almirante Cervera badly damaged by two bombs of Republican bomber Tupolev SB-2, there were 17 dead and 25 wounded.
Almirante Cervara

Night of 5-6 March 1938
Battle of Cape Palos
The major naval engagement of the War: it was the most notable naval battle and one of the major Republican Victories.
The Republican Navy, together the Soviet advisors, has long decided to hit one or both the best ships of the Rebel navy, the heavy cruisers Canaries and Baleares or the Almirante Cervera.
Previous attempts with submarines failed (due the bad state of submarines and lack of training).
It was decided to make an attempt using the few available former soviet motor torpedo boats: a battle group formed by the light cruisers Menendez Nunez and Libertad together the 5 destroyers Sanchez Barcaiztegui, Lepanto, Almirante Antequera, Gravina and Lazaga under the command of Vice-Admiral Luis Gonzalez Ubieta had to escort the motor torpedo boats to the enemy harbor.
Because of bad weather, the soviet motor torpedo boats could not start the operation.
But while the escort ships were coming back, they unexpectedly faced their enemies: the two heavy cruisers Canaries and Baleares together the light Almirante Cervera under the command of Admiral Manuel de Vierna, escorting a little convoy.
Soviet advisors suggested to use the destroyers for torpedo attacks, two early torpedoes fired by the destroyer Sanchez Barcaiztegui missed the enemy.
The two groups crossed their path during this first clash, and then the enemy made a complete turn and missed eye contact.
The two groups crossed again and spotted each other for the second time.
Each of the Republican destroyers fired 4 torpedoes, except the Almirante Antequera that fired 5, while Gravina and Lazaga did not fire.
Of 13 torpedoes launched, 2 of the Lepanto and probably also 1 of the Almirante Antequera hit the enemy cruiser Baleares.The enemy ship was in critical conditions and Vice Admiral Ubieta opened fire with the guns of the cruiser Libertad.
It has been reported that Baleares could have suffered up two hits from Libertad's fire.
Observing their ship burning and sinking the other two enemy cruisers retreated.
Photo of Lepanto
Photo of Baleares sinking.
After the sinking of the enemy cruiser, the neutral British destroyers moved to help the sailors: Republican bombers mistook the destroyer HMS Boreas for a rebel unit, and she was damaged suffering 1 dead and 4 wounded.
The Baleares sunk, 786 (or 788 according different sources) sailors included the Admiral Manuel de Vierna died. 469 (or 435) saved.
This victory was a great success for the Republican Navy: its value was of extreme importance to rise the moral but could not change the outcome of the whole conflict.
Cruiser Libertad became a legend. Ubieta (that will die in exile after the defeat of the Republic, in 1950) was awarded with the Laureate Plate of Madrid (highest Republican decoration)
The two cruisers and the destroyers Lepanto, Almirante Antequera and Sanchez Barcaiztegui received a new pennant flag as award, the Distintivo de Madrid, a flag decorated with the Coat of Arms of Madrid City.
Also Soviet advisors collected valuable information about the naval torpedo as a primary weapon.
The engagement (as often happened for other war experiences of the Spanish Civil War), proved to be highly instructive: the time of gunfire battles for battleships and cruisers was ending, giving place to torpedoes and aircraft attacks.

7 April 1938
Republican patrol boat Rio Urumea sunk by German He-59 seaplane.

15 June 1938
Republican gunboat Laya sunk in the harbor of Valencia because of enemy air attack

18 August 1938
Republican submarine chaser DAR-1 lost for unclear reasons. The class was composed by small wooden boats and only used for coast/harbor guarding duties.

9 October 1938
Republican submarine C-1 sunk in Barcelona by enemy air attack. Raised but not repaired.
The commander of the submarine was the soviet officer I.V. Graiez (he survived).

On unclear day of October, another victim of enemy air raid on Barcelona was the unfinished minelayer Capitán de Corbeta Remigio Verdia
The vessel at the beginning of the Civil War was active as a merchant but she was formerly a British-made Hunt class minesweeper: plans to complete the vessel as minelayer dropped because of damage and not repaired before the end of the war.

The project was the most ambitious large ship-building conversion during the war. Ship in photo completed post-war by the Franchist Spain.

18 October1938
Rebel minesweepers Calderon de la Barca and Cervantes-6 sunk by mines.

5 November 1938
Republican (former soviet) motor torpedo boat n°31 was lost by air attack in Cartagena.

30 December 1938
Republican destroyer Josè Luiz Diez was damaged near Gibraltar by the rebel gunboat Calvo Sotelo and the minelayers Vulcano and Jupiter: she received two shells by the Jupiter with 7 dead (other sources say 4 killed) and 12 wounded, Vulcano suffered 5 wounded. The destroyer run aground into British area and part of the crew rejoined republican forces after some time in British prison. The efforts of the crew in battle were highly praised by the Republican Navy.

Photo of the Josè Luiz Diaz. It's interesting to know that her commander will join the Free France Navy during the WW2

Photo of Vulcano


8 January 1939
Republican motor torpedo boat n°11 (one of the two survived republican ex-soviet motor torpedo boat) attempted to attack alone the heavy cruiser Canaries and the light cruiser Almirante Cervera: the two torpedoes missed even at first believed that they hit a target.

24 January 1939
Rebel minesweeper Nueve Pepe Leston sunk by mine.

5 March 1939
When the war was almost over, republican destroyers Sanchez Barcaiztegui, Alcalà Galiano and Lazaga damaged by enemy air attacks.

7 March 1939
During the last days of the Republic, the rebels believed that a pro-rebel insurrection of military forces had gained the control on the city of Cartagena, so they sent some transports full of soldiers to help their allies.
However the insurrection had failed and members of the 206° Mixed Brigade gained the control of a coastal battery of 381mm
Shells were fired against the troop-transport Castillo de Olite (3545 GRT) that suffered 3 direct hits.
The damage was massive and the transport sunk, 1476 enemy soldiers or sailors killed, 342 wounded and 294 captured.
It was a last revenge against Rebel Navy, which suffered so great losses when they've already won the war.
It's also considered to be the greatest loss of life from the sinking of a single ship in Spanish history.

By the time of this last event, most of the Fleet had left Cartagena to exile.

March 1939
With the downfall of the Republic, the Soviet Union seized a number of ships located in Soviet harbors in Black Sea to prevent their joining to the newly installed regime. Apart a number of merchants, the vessels seized included two official-rated Blockade-Runners: Cabo San Augustin (armed with 4-75mm guns) and Juan Sebatián Elcano (no weapons).
It is unclear, but it seems likely seizures just involved port officers and Republican sailors collaborated and the seizure occurred to prevent the likely demand by Francisco Franco to return the ships.
Technically the Second Republic disbanded on 1 April 1939, so both vessels displayed Republican flag at the time of the seizure.
Soviet cogitations: 316
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 05 Dec 2010, 02:06
Soviet cogitations: 316
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 16 Feb 2011, 18:08
-- integrated --
Soviet cogitations: 316
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 22 Feb 2014, 11:51
Added photos and multiple corrections
Soviet cogitations: 316
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 27 Nov 2015, 15:38
Added some corrections and new data. Re-added photos.
Soviet cogitations: 3
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Nov 2017, 01:00
New Comrade (Say hi & be nice to me!)
Post 18 Apr 2018, 16:44
"3 September 1936
The old Republican torpedo boat T-6 run aground because of an accident and was lost."

Navypedia shows T-06 as broken Up in 1932. T-2 is listed as wrecked 13/9/37.

Year later, but could be the ship.

1 Oct 36 Patrols Uad Lucas & Uad Muluya, Navypedia 9 Oct. 36
Soviet cogitations: 316
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 23 Apr 2018, 10:55
Greetings! There is not much material about this class. Navypedia is a very good source, however other Spanish sources state that T-3 (I previously found T-6) was written off on that date, but seems could be just hull broken up. Will remove the entry given there was no actual battle (or likely even accident) event over it.

Thanks for the fix of Uad Lucas & Uad Muluya also! Yes, 9 october is correct date, plus also I-5 was actually lost on that same attack.
Soviet cogitations: 316
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 06 Dec 2018, 12:13
Text changed to avoid the use of the pro-fascist and not neutral term "Nationalist" often incorrectly used by some western sources.

1) Added proper Introduction
2) Some engagements have been expanded and enriched in details
3) Corrected 22/Aug/36 (C-1 damaged, not C-6)
4) Loss of "Cala Millo" on 1/Sept/36 removed
5) Added the failed mutiny of 8/Sept/36
6) Added Republican losses during Majorca operation on 12/Sept/36
7) Added loss of Mary-Toya (18/Jan/37)
8 ) Inserted the extremely unknown fight between Republican gunboat Laya and Italian cruiser Duca d’Aosta on 14/Feb/37, a small Republican success!
9) Damage on C-6 occurred on 21/Feb, not 16/Feb 1937
10) Inserted minor Basque losses (June 1937)
11) Failed attack by C-6 on Almirante Cervera occurred on 20/Jun, not 16/June
12) During action of 30/Jul/37 (only direct combat with Soviet sailors!) it is now confirmed a enemy seaplane damaged
13) Inserted a very interesting success scored by destroyer Josè Luiz Diez on 25/Aug/37 sinking two rebel trawlers with gunfire!
14) Inserted other Republican losses due air raids in 1938
15) Inserted the seizures by Soviets of two Blockade-runners (only one technically armed) in March 1939
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