By June 1940, Italy’s battleship strength increased. The Littorio and Vittorio Veneto were completed, the last two of the Cavour class were completing modernization, and work continued on the new Roma and Impero. So now, with these new additions and the surrender of France on June 24, the situation in the Mediterranean changed drastically from what it had been nine months before, from nine Allied capital ships against four Italian, to six Italian capital ships versus four British.

For Italy, control of the Mediterranean was essential. All its African and Middle Eastern objectives could be reached only across the sea, so the Italian Navy would play a pivotal role. The fleet itself was large, modern, and possessed a very good naval commando branch. However, despite its modern character, it lacked radar, sonar, and night fighting training. Its most serious deficiency, however, was the lack of aircraft carriers, which Mussolini believed were unnecessary.

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