Fincantieri Reports Passing of Chairman and Italy's Former Head of Defense

Claudio Graziano
Claudio Graziano served for the past two years as Chairman of Fincantieri (Italian Defense Ministry)

Published Jun 17, 2024 2:17 PM by The Maritime Executive


Italian shipbuilding group Fincantieri is confirming the death of its chairman and the former leader of Italy’s defense, retired General Claudio Graziano. News of the passing of the general and one of the highest-ranking members of Italy’s military was met with broad expressions of condolence from Italian leaders in government and industry as well as from the European Union and others in the shipbuilding industry.

Graziano served more than 40 years in the Italian military starting in 1974 after completing his military and academic education. Starting with the Alpini (Mountain Troops) as a commissioned infantry officer, he rose through the ranks becoming Military Assistant to the Army Chief of General Staff. He would lead UN peacekeeping missions, serve as Military Attache at the Embassy in Washington D.C., and rise to Chief of Cabinet of the Ministry of Defense. He was later appointed Chief of Staff to the Italian Army and retired as Chief of the Italian Defense General Staff.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni released a statement saying, “I am shocked by the news of the tragic passing of General Claudio Graziano. He leaves us an upright servant of the state, who throughout his life honored the nation, the armed forces, and the institutions with dedication, competence, and professionalism.”

After his distinguished military career, Graziano became Chairman of Fincantieri in May 2022 taking on the role at a critical time in the transition of the shipbuilding. Giuseppe Bono who had led Fincantieri for 20 years retired in 2022 with Graziano assuming the chairman’s role while Pierroberto Folgiero became the new CEO of the company.

Folgiero said of his colleague that he was not only a great leader who dedicated his life to Italy, but also a great manager. He spoke of his vision helping to guide the company.

Fincantieri just announced an agreement to acquire the submarine division of Leonardo as it works to expand its role in military systems and specifically subsea operations. The Italian shipbuilding is also reported to be actively pursuing a combination or investment in Germany’s Thyssenkrupp Marine (TKMS) a leading building of naval vessels. 

Graziano, age 70, was reportedly mourning the passing of his wife a year ago from cancer. Unconfirmed reports in the media said he was found in his home in Rome with the police investigating the possibility of suicide.

The company released a statement saying, “We will miss many things about him but above all his kindness, attention and deep respect towards each person who, with their work, on a daily basis, made and continues to make our community an example of global excellence. He was proud to be among us and we are proud to have had him as Chairman.”

They are saying his passing created “a great irreplaceable void,” both for the company and Italy. He pursued a vision they said to increasingly unite and create a Europe speaking with one voice. The same sentiments were expressed by leaders in the European Union and NATO.