Italian Navy on a Modernization Spree

By May 25, 2015 Article, Technology No Comments

Continued Expansion
Recently, the Italian Navy ordered six Multipurpose Offshore Patrol Ships (PPA) and One Logistic Support Ship (LSS). This comes shortly after it ordered two more FREMM Frigates in April this year completing its planned quota of ten frigates.

This latest contract is worth €3.5billion ($3.9billion). Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri’s share in the expansion is worth €2.3billion ($2.6billion) while Finmeccanica will undertake €1.2billion ($1.4billion) worth expansions.

Apart from the geo-political implications – these vessels will renew Italy’s naval role in the Mediterranean – the development has benign implications for Italy’s shipbuilding industry and overall economy for the contracts will deliver value many times the worth of investments.

Scheduled date for the delivery of the first of the six PPAs is 2020 while the LSS will be ready for operations by 2019. Integrated Shipyard at Riva Trigoso and Muggiano will build the PPAs.

Italy is a crucial participant in European Union (EU) operations for patrols and migrant rescue in the Mediterranean. Migrants are a massive crisis in the Mediterranean as thousands risk their life and limb to illegally crossover into the EU aboard flimsy, unsafe boats. Disasters are only waiting to happen.

Migration Zone of the Mediterranean (Source:

Migration Zone of the Mediterranean

Libya is the dispatch point for migrant vessels. Conflict-ridden people from Libya, Syria, Somalia, Nigeria, and Congo seek to cross the Mediterranean. Most migrant boats head for the Italian island of Lampedusa, a tourist haven near the North African coast.

In October 2013, over 300 migrants drowned near the Lampedusa Island. The tragedy made the Italian government launch the Mare Nostrum Search and Resuce Operation that saved 140,000 migrant lives between October 2013 and October 2014. EU Border Agency Frontex-executed Operation Triton succeeded Mare Nostrum in November 2014 and has saved 22,300 migrants till February 2015.

Unlike, Mare Nostrum that operated in international waters to ‘search and rescue’, Triton is active only within 30 nautical miles of the Italian coast and focuses on ‘border control and surveillance’. Plus, Triton worked on a third of Mare Nostrum’s budget. These limits proved fatal for many. Already 1,700 have drowned in 2015.

Now, the EU has tripled Triton’s budget to €120million ($130million). Maritime law requires private ships to rescue in-trouble vessels if they are in the vicinity. However, ships go off the radar when rescue centers call them to aid distressed vessels making official rescue operations absolutely necessary.

The Vessels
Both classes of vessels operate as vessels of war, on-sea rescue operation ships, and as civil protection vessels. Incorporating innovation, these vessels are efficient and flexible for operating in numerous capacities.

Most importantly and in sync with the current climate favoring green technologies, these ships leave a low environmental impact on account of their cutting edge biological waste control and low emission auxiliary propulsion system.

Multipurpose Offshore Patrol Ship (PPA) will cruise at speeds exceeding 31knots and is capable of accommodating a crew of 171 on its 129m long frame. The PPA:

  • works as a first line fighting vessel in its most equipped version as well as a sea rescue ship and patrolling vessel in less developed forms
  • operates high-speed Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RIB) of up to 11m length using lateral cranes or a hauling ramp located at the far end of the stern
  • embark on diverse containerized logistic, operating, or healthcare modules
  • Combined Diesel and Gas Turbine Plant (CODAG)-equipped
    Logistic Supply Ship (LSS) (Source:

    Logistic Supply Ship (LSS)

  • provides modular healthcare and residential zones
  • supplies 2,000kW power and drinking water to land

Logistic Support Ship (LSS) will sail at 20knots and accommodate 200 specialists and crew aboard its 165m length. Housing a hospital with radiology chamber, operating rooms, dentist office, and analysis rooms, the LSS can house up to twelve seriously wounded persons.
Equipped with four replenishment stations abeam and one station astern, the LSS will undertake:

  • at-sea repair and maintenance for other ships
  • transport of food, emergency spares, ammunition, freshwater, jet fuel, and diesel fuel to other ships
  • supply of drinking water and 2,500kW power to land
  • rescue operations with its offshore stabilized crane of 30ton capacity
  • base operations of rescue missions via special vessels and helicopters
  • communication, command and control in tactical situations, and dissuasive non lethal defense systems in routine scenarios
  • complex defense system by changing over to an electronic and intelligence war platform when necessary

Fincantieri is a reference player in the naval shipbuilding industry and is among the world’s largest shipbuilding groups. It will provide lifecycle support for the vessel over the first ten years.
Finmeccanica is a leader in Italy’s high-technology sector and intends to take this opportunity to refine its capacity for critical and novel high-technology naval combat systems viz. multifunctional radar, sensors, and multi-sensor integration. With such capable players on board, Italy’s naval expansion can look forward to astounding success.