First multi-purpose offshore patrol ship for the Italian Navy

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Eugenio Po

fincantieri-muggiano-first steel-cutting

Image: Fincantieri


With the steel cutting ceremony held at the Muggiano (La Spezia) shipyard in March, Fincantieri has officially begun the construction of the first Multi-purpose Offshore Patrol Ship (Pattugliatore Polivalente d’Altura; PPA) for the Italian Navy.

The ship is part of the renewal plan of the operational lines of the Italian Navy unofficially called ‘Legge Navale’. The overall project involves the construction of 11 units, seven PPAs (Italian Navy’s original project asks for 10 PPAs), one multi-purpose amphibious unit (LHD or Landing Helicopter Dock), one logistic support unit (LSS or Logistic Support Ship) and a couple of multi-purpose fast craft (Unità Polifunzionali ad Alta Velocità; UNPAV) for the Special Forces (Gruppo Operativo Incursori; GOI). 

The completion of the Critical Design Review for the PPA programme is expected between July and September while the laying down ceremony of this first vessel is expected in 2019. All seven PPAs will be built by two Fincantieri’s shipyards working together (Muggiano and Riva Trigoso), with delivery expected, for the first vessel of the class, in 2021, while the following deliveries will take place respectively in 2022, 2023, 2024 (two units), 2025 and 2026. 

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These Multi-purpose Offshore Patrol Ships are highly modular and, starting from a common hull and superstructures, will be completed in three basic configurations: ‘Light’, ‘Light Plus’ and ‘Full Combat’. These versions are marked by different armament and sensor suite. The PPAs “Light” have an armament only based on artillery (127 mm, 76 mm and 25 mm guns) and a main X-band AESA radar while the PPA ‘Light Plus’ keeps the artillery of the ‘Light’ version adding a local area air defence system based on ASTER missiles and a C-band AESA radar. The main feature of the PPA ‘Full Combat’ is an advanced dual band AESA radar operating in X-band and C-band giving this version an anti-ballistic capability while the rest of the armament is similar to the ‘Light Plus’ configuration. 

All types of PPAs have two modular zones located at the stern and at the centre of the ship to load various types of containerized operational/logistic modules. All PPAs are also capable of operating high-speed boats such as RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat) up to 11 metres long. 

During the ceremony the main technical features of the vessels were released. In particular was finally unveiled that a PPA in ‘Full Combat’ configuration has a displacement of 6.280 tons, while less complete ‘Light Plus’ and ‘Light’ have a displacement of 4-500 tons lighter. 

The hull of the ships is 132.5 metres long and 16,5 metres wide, the propulsion system is mainly a CODAG (Combined Diesel And Gas) with an auxiliary electric system and the maximum speed is around 32-33 knots (according to vessel configuration and operational conditions). 

The PPAs can also perform in disaster relief operation thanks to their modularity and to their capacity to supply drinking water and electricity to land (up to 2,000 kW of power).

This article first appeared in this month's issue of Defence Industry Bulletin, available now.