Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri launched the latest ship in the European FREMM frigate program from its facility in Riva Trigoso, south of Genoa, on February 4.
The ship, to become the Nave Antonio Marceglia in Italian Navy service, is the eighth ship of 10 to be delivered to Italy under the Italian-French FREMM program. Four of the ships are being delivered in Anti Submarine Warfare configuration and four, including the Antonio Marceglia, are optimised for General Purpose missions.
Although not a launch in the traditional sense, the ship was symbolically moved towards the sea on a combination of large, multi-wheeled vehicles witnessed by a crowd of workers and invited guests. Attendees included the Italian Minister of Defence Roberta Pinotti, the Chief of Staff of the Italian Navy, Admiral Valter Girardelli, and Fincantieri CEO Dr. Giuseppe Bono.
After the ceremony, the Antonio Marceglia was transported the short distance to Fincantieri’s integrated shipyard in Muggiano (La Spezia) by special barge, where it will be completed and begin sea trials, ahead of delivery in April 2019.
The Italian FREMMs are known locally as the Bergamini class, and replace the Lupo and Maestrale-class frigates in Italian Navy service. Director of Naval Armaments, Vice Admiral Matteo Bisceglia, describes them as the ‘backbone’ of the modern Italian Navy.
“I’m talking about a state of the art ship and nobody can disprove that,” he said, revealing that an Italian Navy ASW-optimised FREMM recently detected a ‘non-NATO’ nuclear submarine in open water and tracked it for five days.
Fincantieri is offering a version of the FREMM for Defence’s Future Frigate program, to be delivered under Project Sea 5000 and known within the company as the FREMM-A (Australia). The ship is competing with an ASW-optimised evolution of the Hobart class Air Warfare Destroyer from Navantia and the Type 26 frigate for the Royal Navy, now in production with BAE Systems in the UK.
“I think we are in the best position in the world, because our ships are at sea,” Dr. Bono said. “Our commitment for Australia is clear. We hope that it will be a fair competition, based on the technological merits of each ship. We are ready to assist the [Australian] customer during the lifecycle of the ship [and] we have the experience to transfer technology around the world.”
An in depth analysis of the Italian Navy’s FREMM program will appear in the March issue of ADM.