Article by Panagiotis Raditsas, V.Admiral (ret)HN
President Hellenic Submariners Association

HS DELFIN was the second submarine of the Hellenic Fleet, and she has a world first. On December 9, 1912, she executed a torpedo attack while submerged, against the Ottoman cruiser MEDJIDIEH, during the First Balkan War. HS DELFIN, became the first submarine in world’s naval history, attempting submergible torpedo attack in war time. Although the shot was failed, HS DELFIN took her glorious place in naval history.
The construction of HS DELFIN (and her sister submarine HS XIFIAS) was a result of the reorganization of the Royal Hellenic Navy. The decision was made and the order was given by the Hellenic Government to the French shipyards Schneider, on September 1910. The construction began in 1911 and was completed on August 1912. She had a displacement of 310/450 tons, a speed of 8.5 / 13 knots, armament of 4 torpedo tubes of 45 cm (2 Fwd. and 2 Aft) outside the hull and one inside (Fwd.) with 6 torpedoes and a crew of 18 men.
The commission of “HS DELFIN” took place on August 21, 1912 at Toulon Naval Station. Lt. Commander Stephanos Paparigopoulos, was her first CO.
The day after, under the supervision of French officers, began the intensive training of the crew. Before completion of training, her C.O. ordered to sail for Pireus, as the 1st Balkan War was on the doorstep. The submarine left France on September 16, 1912 and she sailed to the Salamis Naval Station, where she received an enthusiastic welcome on September 22, 1912.
On October 4, 1912, the First Balkan War broke out and on October 19, DELFIN sailed from Salamis Naval Station to join the rest of the Hellenic fleet that were chartered in Moudros bay on Lemnos Island.
During the following month, her only activity was exercises while submerged for crew training in Moudros bay and continuing inspections of her machinery, engines and systems that had several problems. From November 20, she began patrols, sailing on surface but also submerged, outside the Dardanelles, while during night she was chartered in Tenedos island. Several attempts for contact the Ottoman fleet failed due to weather conditions and distance of the enemy ships.
Finally, early in the morning of December 9, 1912, six Ottoman war ships appeared at the “mouth” of the Dardanelles straits, as the first exit attempt of the Ottoman Fleet after its defeat by the Hellenic Fleet at the Naval Battle of Elli on December 3, 1912.
HS DELFIN, patrolling submerged at the area, detected the enemy ships. She approached and executed attack against cruiser MEDJITIEH from a distance of 500 meters. The torpedo exited the torpedo tube, but it was defective and sunk shortly after, without exploding. While preparing a second attack, her C.O. saw the Ottoman ships approaching towards, and he ordered safe depth.
The first ever worldwide submerged torpedo attack during war time, even unsuccessful, was a fact, and was executed by HS DELFIN.