During the day on 14 June 1942, the Vigorous Convoy was in range of shored-based fighter cover. Late in the afternoon, they passed out of range so that only long-range Kittyhawks and Beaufighters were providing cover. Between 4:30pm and 9:15pm, seven different air attacks were mounted by Ju-87's and Ju-88's. At about 6pm, the merchant ship Bhutan was hit and sunk. The merchant ship Potaro was damaged but stayed with the convoy. As the sun set, the destroyer Pakenham had a near miss from a submarine-fired torpedo. A little while later, six motor torpedo boats were seen. After sunset, aircraft dropped flares to help the submarines and torpedo boats.
Earlier on 14 June, the main Italian fleet sortied from Taranto, intending to attack the convoy. The fleet was substantial: two battleships, 2-8-inch gun cruisers, 2-6-in gun cruisers, and 12 destroyers. They were on course to intercept the convoy at 9am on 15 June. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.