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Could the Regia Marina had an impact in deciding the Naval Battle of Casablanca?


New Member
Hello all,

I had just read an article regarding the naval battle of Casablanca between Vichy French ships and The US fleet supporting the landing forces. It appears to have been a rather large engagement with some serious losses on both sides, and I am curious why the Regia Marina were not involved themselves in support of the Vichy French. Was it due to indecisiveness on whether the French would defend against the Allies? Did Regia Marina not have the resources or available ships to send to Algeria/Morocco as they were prioritizing the defense in Tunisia?

it seems to me like a lost opportunity to coordinate with the French and exploit their resentment for the Allies regarding Mers-el-kebir. Perhaps a naval victory could have also persuaded the French forces to mount a resistance against the allied landings.


Staff member
Italy and the Vichy French didn't have any treaty/agreement that created an obligation for mutual defense. There was only the Armistice and it didn't have any military cooperation clauses or mutual defense agreements.

Torch was 8 November 1942 and Casablanca was in the Atlantic. Only the submarines at Betasom could have attempted to attack the Allied landings, and only if they had weeks worth of warning to position themselves against the invasion. They were busy operating in the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

The sailing time alone for an Italian squadron from Italy would have rendered any such support moot by the time it arrived. Of course, that is assuming that Italy could spare the oil for the ships to sail a few thousand miles and then have the French replenished them once they arrived. Vichy was hurting for fuel oil just like Italy.

It also assumes that the Italian squadron could fight its way through the Allied forces in the western Med. The Central and Eastern Task Forces were landing at Oran and Algiers. Force H (three battleships and three carriers) was the covering force.

The final issue is why would Italy expend its fleet to defend Vichy when the Allied invasion of Italy proper was approaching?

Casablanca was well out of range. A better question is why didn't the Toulon squadron sail to support Oran and Algiers?


New Member
It also has to be said that, even if it had made sense in terms of grand strategy to intervene, the Naval Battle Forces were badly out of position for any operation against the landings in Algeria - they were still centered at Taranto, poised for operations in the central and eastern Mediterranean.

At the time the Naval Battle of Casablanca (9 November 1942), all the battleships were still at Taranto, the two operational heavy cruisers were at Messina, and the light cruisers were split between Navarino (Duca degli Abruzzi, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Duca d'Aosta), Taranto (Luigi Cadorna) and Naples (Eugenio di Savoia, Raimondo Montecuccoli).

Only 7th Division at Naples could have responded in a reasonable timeframe, perhaps with 3rd Division as heavy support, but this was vastly insufficient given the firepower the Allies had put between the landings and any potential Italian or French naval intervention.

9th Division was transferred from Taranto to Naples on 12 November along with its escorting destroyer flotillas, while 5th Division (Duilio, Andrea Doria, Giulio Cesare) and Luigi Cadorna remained owing to fuel shortages and their limited operational potential. 8th Division was also shifted, moving from Navarino to join the heavy cruisers at Messina on 11 November. 3rd Division would also eventually shift ports, to La Maddalena, but not until 9-10 December 1942.


Staff member
Good lay-down of the available Italian forces.