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NMS Mărăști was an Aquila-class scout cruiser, built in Italy during the First World War. She spent most of her career in Romanian service, during World War II she and her sister being the most heavily-armed warships of the Romanian Navy and of the Axis Powers in the Black Sea. After one year in Soviet service, she was returned to Romania and continued to be used until 1964.

Marasti1917-1944-2.jpg
History
Italy
Name: Sparviero
Ordered: 1913
Builder: Pattison Shipyard, Naples
Commissioned: 1917
Out of service: 1920
Fate: Transferred to Romania, 1920
Romania
Name: Mărăști
Namesake: Battle of Mărăști
Commissioned: 1920
Out of service: 1944
Refit: 1925, Galați shipyard
Reinstated: 1945
Fate: Deleted, 1964
Soviet Union
Name: Lovkiy
Commissioned: 1944
Out of service: 1945
Fate: Returned to Romania
Service record
Commanders: Deleanu Eugen (World War II)[1]
Operations:
Victories:
  • 1 destroyer leader damaged
  • 1 or 2 aircraft destroyed
General characteristics
Class and type: Aquila-class cruiser
Displacement: 1,820 tons
Length: 94.7 m (310 ft 8 in)
Beam: 9.5 m (31 ft 2 in)
Draft: 3.6 m (11 ft 10 in)
Propulsion: Tosi turbines, 5 Thornycroft boilers, 2 shafts, 48,000 horse power
Speed: 38 knots (70 km/h)
Range:
  • 1,700 nautical miles (3,100 km) (15 knots)
  • 380 nautical miles (700 km) (34 knots)
Complement: 146
Armament:

Construction and specificationsEdit

 
Sparviero in 1918

Like her three sister ships, she was ordered in 1913 by Romania from the Pattison Shipyard in Naples. Designed by engineer Luigi Scaglia and based on Romanian specifications, she was to be a large destroyer armed with three 120 mm guns, four 75 mm guns, five torpedo tubes, and have a 10-hour endurance at full speed, as she was required to operate in the limited perimeter of the Black Sea. However, she was interned by Italy on 5 June 1916, when the country joined the First World War, and completed as scout cruiser (esploratori), being commissioned as Sparviero on 15 July 1917. She was transferred to Romania along with one of her sister ships, Nibbio, on 1 July 1920. She was renamed Mărăști and her sister was renamed Mărășești.[2]

The cruiser measured 94.7 meters in length, with a beam of 9.5 meters and a draught of 3.6 meters. She was powered by Tosi turbines and five Thornycroft boilers, generating an output of just over 48,000 hp powering two shafts, which gave her a top speed of 38 knots. She was armed with three 6-inch (152 mm) Armstrong naval guns, four 3-inch (76 mm) Ansaldo guns, two 6.5 mm machine guns and two twin 457 mm torpedo tubes. She had a crew of 146 and a range of 1,700 nautical miles at 15 knots, as well as 380 nautical miles at 34 knots.[3]

She had a displacement of 1,820 tons.[4]

Mărăști and Mărășești were the most heavily-armed Axis warships in the Black Sea, and had the second greatest displacement, after the cruiser-sized submarine tender Constanța. The succeeding Regele Ferdinand-class destroyers were more modern, but not as heavy and heavily armed. Upon commissioning by Romania on 1 July 1920, Mărăști and Mărășești were re-classified as destroyers.[5] However, English-language sources of the period refer to the two warships as flotilla leaders,[6] most likely on account of their three cruiser-typical 152 mm guns. Mărăști and Mărășești were refitted at the Galați shipyard in Romania in 1925, and sent back to Naples for rearming in 1926.[7] Their 6-inch Armstrong guns were removed and later used as coastal artillery (such as the Tudor battery near Constanța with three guns).[8] The two rearmed warships are also known as the Mărăști-class. During World War II, the two Romanian flotilla leaders were armed mainly with five 120 mm guns and four 76 mm guns. Their two 6.5 mm machine guns were replaced by two 13 mm Hotchkiss machine guns. They also retained their four 457 mm torpedo tubes (two pairs, one on each side of the ship).[9][10] The two warships could also carry 50 mines each.[11] During the war, Mărăști and Mărășești were each fitted with two 37 mm anti-aircraft guns.[12] Due to being armed with nine pieces of heavy artillery (5 x 120 mm and 4 x 76 mm) and having their torpedo tubes mounted on the sides instead of the centerline, the two warships resembled light unarmored cruisers.

World War IIEdit

 
Mărăști in 1944

On 26 June 1941, Mărăști helped repel a Soviet naval attack against the main Romanian port of Constanța, together with the destroyer Regina Maria and the minelayer Amiral Murgescu. Surprised by the level of resistance and the accuracy of the return fire, the Soviet fleet withdrew, losing the destroyer leader Moskva into a Romanian minefield, laid by the Romanian minelayers Amiral Murgescu, Regele Carol I and Aurora on 19 June that year. Amiral Murgescu claimed to have shot down two Soviet aircraft during the battle and Mărăști claimed one.[13][14] Mărăști opened fire at 04:19 in the morning, 7 minutes after Regina Maria started engaging the two Soviet warships. The leader's guns fired for four minutes, damaging the Soviet destroyer leader Kharkov.[15]

She carried out ~30 escort missions in the Black Sea throughout the war. The convoys she was escorting were attacked ~10 times by Soviet aircraft and submarines, two Axis transport ships being sunk. On the opposite side, 1 Soviet aircraft was shot down and 14 Soviet mines were encountered and destroyed with gunfire.[16]

Mărăști and her sister were captured by Soviet forces in August 1944 and were incorporated into the Black Sea Fleet as Lovkiy (Ловкий, ex-Mărăști) and Lyogkiy (Лёгкий, ex-Mărășești). They were returned to Romania in October 1945.[17] She continued to be used until being deleted in 1964.[18]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Jipa Rotaru, Ioan Damaschin, Glorie și dramă: Marina Regală Română, 1940-1945, Ion Cristoiu Publishing, 2000, p. 267 (in Romanian)
  2. ^ Robert Gardiner, Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1906-1921, Naval Institute Press, 1985
  3. ^ Robert Gardiner, Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1906-1921, Naval Institute Press, 1985
  4. ^ Franco Bargoni, Ufficio storico della Marina militare - Esploratori fregate corvette ed avvisi Italiani 1861-1968: Esploratori classe Aquila, Tipografia Stato maggiore Marina, 1970
  5. ^ Revista istorică, Volumul 15, Edițiile 1-2, Institutul, 2004, p. 221 (in Romanian)
  6. ^ Defence Yearbook, Brassey's Naval and Shipping Annual, 1923, p. 357
  7. ^ Frederick Thomas Jane, Jane's Fighting Ships, S. Low, Marston, 1962, p. 204
  8. ^ Adrian Storea, Gheorghe Băjenaru, Artileria română în date și imagini (Romanian artillery in data and pictures), pp. 108-109 (in Romanian)
  9. ^ M. J. Whitley, Destroyers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia, Naval Institute Press, 1988, p. 223
  10. ^ Earl Thomas Brassey, Brassey's Annual, Praeger Publishers, 1929, p. 339
  11. ^ Robert Gardiner, Warship 1991, Conway Maritime Press, 1991, p. 147
  12. ^ Nicolae Koslinski, Raymond Stănescu, Marina română in al doilea război mondial: 1942-1944, Făt-Frumos Publishing, 1996, pp. 141 and 149
  13. ^ Antony Preston, Warship 2001-2002, pp. 70 and 71
  14. ^ Jonathan Trigg, Death on the Don: The Destruction of Germany's Allies on the Eastern Front, Chapter 3
  15. ^ Jipa Rotaru, Ioan Damaschin, Glorie și dramă: Marina Regală Română, 1940-1945, Ion Cristoiu Publishing, 2000, pp. 48-49 (in Romanian)
  16. ^ Jipa Rotaru, Ioan Damaschin, Glorie și dramă: Marina Regală Română, 1940-1945, Ion Cristoiu Publishing, 2000, pp. 267-274 (in Romanian)
  17. ^ Navypedia: LIOGKIY destroyers (1917-1918/1944)
  18. ^ Robert Gardiner, Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1906-1921, Naval Institute Press, 1985