According to a press release by the Pentagon, the U.S. Special Forces are seeking the assistance of their counterpart in the Italian Navy to develop mini-submarines, probably to be used by the Navy Seals.
The news, while gratifying for Italy, are not surprising at all, since Italy has an unparalleled tradition in the field of naval special operations.
Italian frogmen rose to international fame in 1918, during World War I, when they sank the Austrian-Hungarian battleship Szent Istvan.
During World War II, they were virtually the only branch of the Italian armed forces to score significant successes, hitting British bases in Suda, Gibriltar and Alexandria and sinking various British ships, including two battleships and one destroyer.
After the Italian surrender in 1943, the bulk of the Italian Navy special forces refused to recognize the armistice, choosing instead to keep fighting alongside the Wehrmacht and evolving into a much feared counterinsurgency force, operating against Italian partisans and Yugoslav communist forces.
Today, Italian frogmen are organized in the Frogmen and Commandos Command ‘Teseo Tesei’. Major Teseo Tesei was an Italian frogman died on July 26th, 1941 during a mission against the British base in La Valletta, Malta. Major Tesei choose suicide rather than aborting the mission, a decision for which he received the highest Italian military decoration ad memoriam.