Giulio Cesare (Italian for Julius Caesar), motto Caesar Adest was a Conte di Cavour-class battleship that served in the Regia Marina in both World Wars before joining the Soviet Navy as the Novorossiysk. Her keel was laid down on 24 June 1910 at Cantieri Ansaldo, Genoa. She was launched 15 October 1911, and construction was completed 14 May 1914.
World War I and Interwar years
Giulio Cesare had no active missions during World War I. In 1923 she attacked the Greek island of Corfu, as a reaction against the killing of Italian representatives in Ioannina. She was later renovated. From 1928 to 1933 she was used as an artillery training ship, then went into the yards for extensive modernization.
Between 1933 and 1937 she was completely rebuilt, changing her silhouette and increasing her combat capabilities. Length was increased by 10.3 meters, and she was given new armored decks and new propulsion machinery that uprated her to 93,000 horsepower (69 MW), and allowed a speed of 28 knots (52 km/h).
World War II
During the Battle of Punta Stilo on 9 July 1940, Giulio Cesare was hit by a 15 inch (381 mm) shell as HMS Warspite set the record for naval gunnery against a moving target at well over 24,000 meters (26,000 yards).
Shortly before, a Cesare's 320 mm salvo aimed at HMS Warspite had straddled two British destroyers, HMS Hereward and HMS Decoy, causing some splinter damage on both of them.
"Blue Smoke" controversy
Some debate is ongoing in Italy about the possibility of a hit by the Cesare on Warspite around the same time; this controversy, called "the blue smoke affair" is about a blue smoke seen rising from the Warspite by officers and lookouts aboard the Cesare. There was also an article by the Italian naval historian Enrico Cernuschi, who is considered a maverick in Italian naval and naval history circles, about the actual performance of Italian naval artillery. As of 2006 no definite conclusion on this is achieved.
Activity after Punta Stilo
Giulio Cesare was assigned to covering convoys, participating in the First Battle of Sirte, until 1942, when she was sidelined because of fuel shortages. In 1948, Giulio Cesare was ceded to the Soviet Union as compensation for war damages.
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