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R.N. Cesare Rossarol

During the two World Wars, the strategic location of the Adriatic Sea made it the site of many naval fights, raids and losses. At the outset of World War I, in an attempt to defend its coasts, elements of the Austro-Hungarian Empire set up extensive minefields around the waters of Istra. Given that only they knew of their precise location, these minefields became the cause of countless losses, both to friend and foe, military and civilian. Following the Armistice of 4 November 1918, no attempt was made to eradicate these minefields; as a result, the Istrian sea floor is now littered with wrecks resulting from both military operations and post-war collisions with devices left over from the war. The R.N. Cesare Rossarol, a scout cruiser ("esploratore leggero") belonging to the Italian Royal Navy, was one of the casualties of one of these forsaken mines in the days immediately following the armistice.
The R.N. Cesare Rossarol was launched by S.A.I. Gio. Ansaldo & C., Liguria, Italy, in 1914. She was a scout cruiser, a slender, fast vessel, measuring 85 meters in length; she had the ability to fight while maintaining a speed of over 30 knots. Designed to measure up to the Austro-Hungarian light cruisers of the “Spaun” class, she carried six guns and was outfitted to launch torpedoes. During World War I she took part in several battle operations, laid minefields and escorted battleships.

Like her sister ships, the Alessandro Poerio and Guglielmo Pepe, the Cesare Rossarol was named after a famous Neapolitan who, in 1848, helped to bravely defend the Republic of Venice from attacks by the Austro-Hungarian Army. She began her service in November of 1915 patrolling the lower Adriatic Sea; she would later on join her sister ships to form the Second Group of the Fourth Division. Together they patrolled the upper Adriatic. In June 1917 she was transferred to Brindisi (Southern Italy), where she was incorporated into the Fourth Group of the Fourth Division; she stayed there until the end of the war. She was renowned for her many missions.

The final days of the war found the Cesare Rossarol in Istrian waters, off Pola, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy’s principal naval harbor and arsenal. She was assigned to antisubmarine patrol service after supporting the landing and occupation of the city. On 5 November 1918, the day after the Austro-Hungarian Armistice, Italian forces, having already occupied several Albanian and Istrian cities, moved in to occupy the great naval base of Pola. Though it was here that the greater units of the Austro-Hungarian Navy were anchored, the collapse of the Empire, and the power vacuum that this had caused, had left this fleet in total disarray.      Forward

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