This story has been told in art and by Catholics world wide in commemorating the battle that saved Christendom with the help of the Holy Rosary.
Don Juan of Austria and the Holy League of 1571 set sail to fight and save Christendom from being enslaved by the Ottoman Turks, let me share from this awesome article from Catholic Culture ‘Lepanto, 1517: The Battle That Saved Europe:
“The Turks had an estimated 328 ships, of which 208 were galleys, the rest being smaller supporting craft. Aboard them were nearly 77,000 men, including 10,000 Janissaries, but also 50,000 oarsmen, many of them Christian slaves. At Don Juan’s command were 206 galleys, along with 40,000 oarsmen and sailors, and more than 28,000 soldiers, knights, and gentleman adventurers. He also had the blessings of the pope and the papal banner; the ministrations of Jesuits, Dominicans, Franciscans, and Capuchins who accompanied the fleet, the prayers of the faithful; and the rosaries that were pressed into the hands of every Christian oarsman.
The Catholic armada had been spotted by Muslim spy ships (painted entirely black so that they cruised through the night unnoticed). They reported that the Christians would be no match for the Ottoman fleet. On October 7, 1571, Don Juan’s lookouts raised the alarm as the Christian ships entered the Gulf of Patras. The Ottomans, from their naval base at Lepanto in the adjacent Gulf of Corinth, had formed a battle line, its front arrayed in three “battles,” as were the Christians (though the battle had started before Andrea Doria, commanding the Catholic right flank, could bring his ships fully in line). Ahead of Don Juan’s three battles was a wedge of galleasses — slower, less maneuverable gunships that made up for their lack of mobility with their unrivaled firepower.
The battle was met, the galleasses drawing first blood, splintering Turkish decks and Turkish men. But the Ottomans sailed around them, the goal, to grapple with the Catholic ships and turn the battle into a floating melee of Muslim scimitars, bows, and muskets against Catholic swords, pikes, and arquebuses.
Cannons erupted, arrows rained on the Christians, and arquebuses spat back balls of lead. When the ships closed, grappling hooks threw them together; the Christians hurled nets to repel boarders and followed up with gunfire. Still, the fighting closed to hand-to-hand aboard decks. Catholics turned swivel guns on the enemy ships, and the Turkish bowmen fired dark volleys of arrows that claimed the life of Agostini Barbarigo, commander of the Catholic left wing, whose eye was pierced when he raised his visor to issue orders.
Ottoman ships tried to turn the left flank of the Christian line, and while they appeared to succeed, the Catholic ships responded — amid a blinding hail of cannon blasts, arrows, grenades, and gunfire — in pinning the Muslim ships against Scropha Point. There, against the shoals, the Muslim vessels were trapped — and, at first, the Mohammedans fought with the ferocity of trapped animals. But more Catholic ships joined the battle, and what had been the right of the Ottoman line began to splinter, the Christian slaves on the Ottoman ships revolted, and Ottoman captains and crews, sensing disaster, beached their ships, hoping to escape to shore. By early afternoon, the Catholic left had emerged victorious.
At the head of the Catholic center was Don Juan aboard the flagship Real. For him, and for the Muslim commander Ali Pasha, the battle was a joust. They fired shots to announce their presence one to the other, and then drove to the clash, using their galleys as steeds. The ships crashed together, Don Juan in the lead, and everywhere the line erupted with explosions of cannons, bombs, gunfire, and the clash of swords and battle axes, while silent-flying deadly arrows thudded into timber and men.
It appeared that in this violent shipyard scrum, Don Juan’s ship and men were getting the worst of it — despite the handsome hero’s pet monkey hurling Ottoman grenades back at the enemy — until Marco Antonio Colonna, commander of the papal galleys, rammed his own flagship into Ali Pasha’s. The surging Catholic forces, in what had become an infantry battle fought across ships’ decks, swept the Muslims aside. Ali Pasha himself was killed and beheaded, and when Don Juan waved away the present of the severed head, it was tossed overboard. The Holy League’s banner was raised aloft the captured Ottoman flagship, and Ali Pasha’s banner — the sultan’s own undefeated standard made of green silk and with the prophet’s name threaded through it 28,900 times in gold — was Don Juan’s.
On the right flank, Andrea Doria was engaged in a battle of maneuver that was anti-climactic to the battles on the Catholic left and center, save for the fact that in being drawn away from guarding the center battle’s right flank, he allowed the Turks to pour through the gap. Some Catholic ships — without orders — pulled out of Andrea Doria’s battle to plug the gap. But they were too few, and were forced to such desperate heroics as firing their own powder magazines. The Muslim lunge was then directed at the flagship of the Knights of Malta, who, like so many of their brave fellows before, fought to the death against overwhelming odds. (There were, perhaps, six survivors. The sources vary; six is a high guess. The one certain survivor was the Knights’ commander, Pietro Giustiniani, though five times wounded by arrows and twice by scimitars.) Andrea Doria, having hardly distinguished himself thus far, wheeled around and chased away the remaining Ottoman raiders who were commanded by Uluch Ali Pasha, an Italian turned Barbary corsair. Uluch Ali had his prize — the Knights of Malta’s banner — and he knew how to skedaddle when necessary. A realist, he knew the bigger battle was lost.” (1).
Soon it will be the 450th Anniversary of this victory and I was thinking, how would this naval battle be fought with modern ships? I’m interested in U-boats or submarines that still had deck guns like the ships of old and if the U-boats were called for surface warfare, they would do old fashion battle to fight off enemy crew trying to come aboard and take over their ships.
I thought of writing an epic fictional account of the modern sea Battle of Lepanto and here is that story.
0730 In The Mediterranean Ocean
Wave after wave of Turkish Ships sail by heading for Spain and France. What are these ships?
Terrorists; changing how they invade Europe to continue their take over. Greek, Austrian and Polish soldiers stopping them on the Greece and Turkish border, and so, they need a new way to move their friends to continue the ruin of Europe.
“With Allaha’s Help, We Will Take Over Europe!” Said the Turkish Dictator. Destroyers and Cargo ships with the Turkish Flags waving in the sea air. Nearing European coasts, the Christian leaders receive the reports of these ships and hold a council with Pope Leo XIV, newly elected.
01030 AM Vatican City
“My dear sons, we are nearing the anniversary of Lepanto and we are called here again to raise the Spirit Of Lepanto once again. I am calling on you sirs to raise a naval force to hunt down these ships and save Christendom again!”
“Thank you Holy Father,” said PM Oberto of Italy, “let us form a new Holy League to defeat our common enemy from the east.”
“Je suis d’accord!” Said PM Francois of France
“Ich stimme zu!” Said PM Hans Boldwn Of Germany, a great grandson to the Holy Roman Emperor Otto I or Otto the Great.
“Estoy de acuerdo!” Said Don Juan Of Austria IV, a relative to the original Don Juan of Austria; hero of Lepanto!
All agreed to the idea and now they begin to look at how to hunt down these ships. They looked at normal warships, but they decided to form a new wolfpack submarine unit. The modern nuclear submarines are way larger, but they wanted to modify these boats to add the deck gun back to the ships.
U-Our Lady Of Victory
U-Don Juan of Austria
U-Our Lady Of The Holy Rosary
These twelve named U-boats, with 18 other unnamed U-boats, plus refuel ships, Destroyers, Aircraft Carriers and other ships as their back ups.
All these U-boats are taken to the old U-boat bases of the German Navy or Kraigmarines in World War Two, repaired these bases and began the modification processes, the addition of the Holy Images or the image of the Holy League of 1571 Banner placed on the watchout tower as is custom. U-boat 1571 flew the actual flag, but made for Submarine Size when on top of the surface.
Once all equipment, computers, code machines, radios, sonar was all installed, deck guns installed, then food, drinking water, shower water, flushing water, coffee, juice, other drink items, medical supplies, the chaplains began to setup their section in the submarine, he will share the galley where men eat and hold meetings. Torpedos loaded, non-nuclear missiles loaded into the missile silos; only thing nuclear is what powers the ship, along with the electric engines for under water and diesel engines.
The ammo for the deck gun, rifles, pistols and ammo for those are taken down below and stored, these weapons will be used to fight off the boarders. Plus there are two light machine guns and cans of ammo for it as well.
All of this takes a month to complete.
Easter Monday, 01100 AM, Pope Leo XIV has arrived at the base for all the sailors, and says a High Pontifical Rite Of Sarum Mass and it is so beautiful, so reverent, you would of thought Heaven was the Naval Base.
1:30 PM, the Mass is over, everyone has received Our Lord’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Most Holy Eucharist, and they load up, including the Pope, and head to the U-boats.
“My dear brethren, you are the new silent hunters to protect Christendom and end this threat to our way of life and to our Holy Religion!” Said Leo XIV.
Now the Pope Christens each ship, all 18 submarines and all the other ships, including the weapons, living quarters, food, water, everything.
“We are ready to do our holy duty for the Holy League! Raw!” The sailors roared and then the Pope began to make the Sign of the Cross and they kneeled to receive his blessing again.
“Raise The Gangplank!” “Release all main lines!” “Slow ahead two thirds!”
The submarines came to life, and the tarp covering the Holy Images came off and exposed them on the watchout tower and the men began to get down below.
“Dive the boat! “Go to periscope depth!” “All ahead full!”
“At periscope depth sir!
The captain checks to make sure they were not seen and all clear, “Dive to 500 feet!”
It takes a few minutes and the boat is at 500 feet, “500 feet Aye sir!”
Now the testing begins. “Simulated Electrical Fire In Aft Torpedo Room, you have two minutes to get the fire out and everything under control!”
The men get the fire gear on, breathing gear and go into the Aft Torpedo Room facing a fire, but only simulation, “spray the fire control chemical to take the oxygen to the fire!” The chemical is the foam used by firefighters on these types of fires, once out and safe, they clean it off and do the simulated repairs called for.
“Fire out skipper!” The crew calls the captain on the phone, “Excellent Job, 1 minute thirty seconds is your time.”
The crew now celebrates their job well done, then the intercom turns on, “Simulated Water Leak, Aft Engine Room, you have 3 minutes gentlemen!”
The men rush to the tools and breathing gear for underwater fixing, they begin to get the stabilizer post and then plate to push on the leaking valve in place, water is coming in quick, the lights are off simulating an actual emergency and they struggle to get the post to remain in needed area and slip and fall. Intercom sounds again, “You are all dead, the boat took on too much water and sank to the bottom and pressure made it cave in like a pop can being squeezed. Do it again!”
Again the lights off, a simulator that does the water leak flows, they get their gear on and begin to do their work to stop the leak and then fix the whole. If they don’t get it, they keep doing it until they get it and get it under 3 minutes.
Beep, Beep, Beep, Dong, “Sonar contact 0409 Degrees East Captain!” “What is it?” The Captain asked, “three cargo ships sir!” “Mr. Jones, how far from targets?” 500 miles skipper, they are moving near us at full speed, in about 2 hours, we will be in range.”
“Radio Man, send coded message to other U-boats and prepare for battlestations!” “Aye sir!”
“Forward Torpedo Room Reporting: 1 through 4 tubes loaded and ready for our duty Captain!’ “Excellent!”
“Aft Torpedo Room Reporting: Tubes Ready Captain!” “Excellent!”
Now the wait and the nerves build in the new submarine sailors, and the long wait as the radar beeps to tell you the targets are getting closer.
“Captain! New beeps with the cargo ships,” ding, ding, dong, beep, he listens to them and figures it out, “Destroyers ahead!’
“Do they have depth charges on board Captain?” “I do not know, but prepare that they have them.”
“Yes sir Captain!” “Distance to destroyers?” “High Speed screw sounds, full speed ahead, about an hour away.” “Contact the other submarines!”
The different beeps grow louder and quicker and closer together, and the crew awaits the order to open fire or for the triple metallic clicks of the depth charges when they explode.
“Coded Message Coming Through Captain!”
“X1TOF34WA. . S2E. 5RB7Q.”
“Message Received, all crews standing ready for our Sacred Duty! U-Charlemagne will take on destroyers!”
“Send Reply, add Sobieski to go with Charlemagne to attack destroyers.”
“X4F5PR. 2W34E5. W111TX33.”
“Message sent sir!”
Sobieski and the Charlemagne steam ahead to take on the destroyers and on board our 1571 Lepanto, the bell rings for Confession, each sailor goes one at a time, so they all aren’t away from their important post, once all went to Confession, the Priest went to the radar man to hear his confession at his post.
Confession is over, now they go to the galley for Holy Mass, those who can attend Mass do so in person, those who can’t leave their post, attend via intercom and everyone receives the Holy Eucharist.
The Mass is beautiful, all Traditional, Traditional Vestments and in Latin; the sermon was on the Original Battle Of Lepanto and the power of the Holy Rosary. The Mass lasts an hour and thirty minutes, so battle is 30 minutes away and everyone is now spiritually prepared.
End Of Part One