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Gerhard Heiming

The second Pattugliatori Polivalenti d’Altura (PPA, multipurpose offshore patrol vessel) for the Italian Navy has been launched, taking precautions against the COVID 19 crisis. The FRANCESCO MOROSINI, the second PPA after the lead ship THAON DI REVELO, was launched at the Fincantieri shipyard in Riva Trigoso, Liguria. The European procurement agency OCCAR has been commissioned by the Directorate of Armaments of the Italian Navy to implement the project, the only OCCAR programme involving only one nation. It is managed from OCCAR’s Rome site and follows on from the successful FREMM programme, in which OCCAR procured 20 multipurpose frigates (Frégate Multi-Mission and Fregata Multi-Mission) for Italy and France.

Different tiers

Seven PPA vessels are currently planned, to be delivered in three different configurations on a common platform: LIGHT (two ships), LIGHT PLUS (three) and FULL (two) while there is an option for three more which if taken up, will see an additional vessel of each type built. The LIGHT version will have a complete artillery set while the LIGHT PLUS version will have a missile launching capability (including the option of ballistic missile defence capabilities) and the FULL version will be fully capable of air, surface and sub-surface warfare.

The LIGHT and LIGHT PLUS were developed with the “Fit for” approach, meaning each system on the FULL version can be quickly deployed on LIGHT and LIGHT Plus versions if necessary, facilitating operational flexibility and growing capabilities over the life of the ship. The FRANCESCO MOROSINI is the second PPA in LIGHT configuration and trials in the Mediterranean will start at the end of summer 2020 under the supervision of both the Italian Navy’s Directorate of Armaments and OCCAR’s PPA Programmes Department with delivery to the Italian Navy scheduled for March 2022.

The vessels

At 143 m long and 16.5 m wide, the ships will displace 5,830 tons (LIGHT) to 6,280 tons (FULL) with a maximum draught of 10.5 m. The LIGHT frigates are operated by a 90-man crew and can accommodate an additional 30 soldiers while the FULL version requires almost twice as many personnel for operation. The Combined Diesel and Gas (CODAG) propulsion system delivers a total of 52 MW of propulsion from a GE-Avio gas turbine and two MTU diesel engines, resulting in a top speed of over 65 km/h. The armament consists of naval artillery with 76 mm and 127 mm cannons (including VULCANO ammunition), two KBA 25 mm rapid-fire cannons which can be supplemented by torpedo and missile launchers. The PPA can carry up to two helicopters (AW101 or NH90) and the electronic equipment includes a 3D AESA radar, sonar and electronic countermeasures including decoy launchers.