27 November 1871|
Jezerane, Habsburg Monarchy (today Croatia)
|Died||1 November 1918
Pula, Habsburg Monarchy (today Croatia)
Janko Vuković, sometimes spelt Janko Vukovich or von Vukovich, also known as Janko Vuković de Podkapelski or Janko Vuković-Podkapelski (Jezerane, September 27, 1871 - November 1, 1918) was a Croatian sailor who served in the Austro-Hungarian navy. He attended the Naval Academy in Fiume (modern Rijeka), and in his naval career he commanded the Habsburg-class pre-Dreadnought SMS Babenberg, the fast light cruiser SMS Admiral Spaun, and rose to command of the fleet's flagship, the dreadnought SMS Viribus Unitis by the end of the First World War.
On October 29, 1918 the National Council of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs broke off all relations with Austria and Hungary, establishing the new State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. Subsequently Emperor Charles gifted the entire Austro-Hungarian Navy, merchant fleet, and all its installations to the new state. When representatives of the National Council arrived at the naval base at Pula on October 31, the commander in chief, Admiral Miklós Horthy, asked to whom he should hand over command of the fleet. The representatives had not considered the matter, and after some discussion accepted Horthy's suggestion of Vuković, who was promoted to rear-admiral and made commander in chief of the new country's navy when Horthy's flag was lowered at 5 pm.
Overnight, an Italian sabotage team from a nearby patrol boat, who had not heard of the new State's creation and non-belligerence, penetrated the harbour and laid two 200 kg mines under the Viribus Unitis ready to explode at 6:30 sharp. The two-man team was captured and taken aboard Viribus Unitis, where they informed Vuković of what they had done.
Vuković arranged for the prisoners (Raffaele Paoletti and Raffaele Rossetti) to be taken safely to the sister ship Tegetthoff, and ordered the evacuation of the ship. But the explosion did not happen at 6:30 and Vukovic returned to the ship with many sailors. He therefore remained on his ship and went down with her and 300-400 of her crew when the mines exploded shortly afterwards at 6:44.
Vuković had been commander-in-chief of his country's fleet for barely twelve hours.
- Stjepan Vukušić; Admiral. Roman o Janku Vukoviću pl. Podkapelskom, prvom hrvatskom admiralu. Zagreb, Naklada Pavičić, 2004; ISBN 953-6308-55-X