Italian Navy Increases Its Armada
The Italian navy announced a €3.5 billion ($ 3.9 billion) order today for six multipurpose offshore patrol ships and one logistic support ship in order to renew its fleet. Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri will receive a €2.3 billion ($2.6 billion) share of the work and defense group Finmeccanica will be responsible for the additional €1.2 billion ($1.4 billion).
The patrol ships will be highly flexible, 129 meter vessels capable of holding a crew of up to 171 people. Fincantieri has stated that the vessels can conduct operations ranging from patrolling and sea rescue to first line fighting.
The logistic support ship will house a fully equipped hospital capable of caring for up to 12 patients. Additionally, it will be able to carry out sea repairs and transport functions for other vessels.
Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, noted the dual impact of the order for Italy. "This program has a deep industrial value, in addition to the significant geo-political implications with the relaunch of Italy's role in the Mediterranean.” He further added that the impact the shipbuilding industry has on the economy as a whole outpaces the investment from the initial order many times over.
Speaking on the ship’s onboard capabilities, Finmeccanica’s CEO and General Manager, Mauro Moretti stated, “Through the development of products for the Italian Navy's new ships, Finmeccanica is able to further expand its capabilities in new high-technology naval combat systems, and in particular in key strategic areas such as sensors, multifunctional radar, and multi-sensor integration.”
The logistic support vessel will be delivered first in 2019, and the first patrol vessel will make its debut in 2021.
Today’s announcement comes amid an increasing migrant crisis in the Mediterranean, as thousands of people a year try to make the desperate crossing from Northern Africa into the European Union. Over the weekend 10 Italian navy and coast guard vessels assisted in the rescue of around 7,000 migrants. Italy’s navy plays a key role in ongoing EU border patrol and migrant rescue operations.