At the outbreak of The Second World War, the Italian Navy had a formidable fleet, including six battleships, eight cruisers, and 65 destroyers. However, the Italian naval doctrine was heavily influenced by their army's experiences during the First World War, which emphasized the use of submarines and torpedo boats for offensive actions rather than a large surface fleet.
In terms of strategy, the Italians focused on defending their maritime trade routes in the Mediterranean and securing their colonial possessions in North Africa. They also sought to disrupt Allied supply lines by using their submarines to target convoys.
One of the key personalities in the Italian Navy during The Second World War was Admiral Angelo Iachino, who served as the commander-in-chief of the Italian fleet from 1940 to 1943. Iachino was instrumental in the planning and execution of the Battle of Cape Matapan, a major naval engagement in the Mediterranean in March 1941.
The Italian Navy faced significant fundamental issues during the war. Their ships were often outdated and ill-equipped compared to their Allied counterparts. Additionally, they lacked the resources to build new ships or replace those lost in battle. This made it difficult for them to mount any significant offensive actions against the Allies as the war dragged on.
However, despite these challenges, the Italian Navy did achieve some successes during the war. In 1940, they mounted a successful attack on the British naval base in Alexandria, Egypt, sinking two battleships and damaging several other ships. They also managed to disrupt Allied supply lines in the Mediterranean, forcing the Allies to divert resources to protect their convoys.
Overall, the Italian Navy's inability to keep up with technological advancements and lack of resources ultimately led to its downfall. By the end of the war, much of their fleet had been destroyed or captured by the Allies, and Italy's once-great naval power had been significantly diminished.