Sinking of the SMS Szent István

The Austro-Hungarian dreadnought SMS Szent István lists badly after being struck by torpedoes fired by Italian motor torpedo boats, 10 June 1918.

The Szent István was one of four dreadnought battleships built by the Austro-Hungarian Empire prior to the First World War. Launched in January 1914 she spent the majority of the war based at Pola naval base (in modern day Croatia). On 9 June 1918 she sailed from Pola with her sister ship SMS Tegetthoff to take part in an attack on the 'Otranto Barrage' – the Allied naval blockade of the Straits of Otranto between Italy and Albania intended to prevent Austro-Hungarian naval forces from entering the Mediterranean and threatening Allied shipping. Both ships were enroute to a rendezvous with the dreadnoughts SMS Viribus Unitis and SMS Prinz Eugen when they encountered two Italian MAS motor torpedo boats returning from a patrol off the Dalmatian coast. The torpedo boats – MAS.15 and MAS.21 – managed to penetrate the dreadnoughts escort screen and attacked both ships. While the Tegetthoff escaped unscathed the Szent István was hit by two torpedoes fired by MAS.15. Efforts to save the Szent István were unsuccessful and she sunk in less than three hours with the loss of 89 of her crew.

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