Martin Manaranche story with additional reporting by Xavier Vavasseur
The Francesco Morosini was due to hit the water at the end of March but Fincantieri had to postpone the launch because of the Coronavirus crisis (during which the company stopped production at all its shipyards). Contacted by Naval News, a Fincantieri spokesperson explained that the launch is set to take place sometime next month.
Regarding the third (Raimondo Montecuccoli) and fourth PPAs, Fincantieri ensures that production is “perfectly on time” and no delay is expected. All production sites re-opened from April 20.
The next two ships are currently in the production stage. Francesco Morosini is the second PPA in Light configuration. Of the seven PPA vessels on order, two are in “Light” versions, three in “Light +” and two in “Full”.
The PPA contract was signed in May 2015 with OCCAR (Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’Armement / Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation) acting as contractor authority. PPA are meant to replace light patrol frigates from the Soldati-class and Minerva-class corvettes.
The PPA (Pattugliatore Polivalente d’Altura) patrol ship is 133 meters long and can carry 90 crew members with additional accommodations for up to 171 members. The ship’s flexible hybrid propulsion plant features small gearbox mounted-motors for low speed operations, two propulsion diesels for mid-speed service and the LM2500+G4 gas turbine to reach more than 31 knots.
The PPAs are being built at Fincantieri’s Integrated Shipyard of Riva Trigoso and Muggiano, with delivery expected, for the first vessel of the class, in 2021, while the following deliveries will take place in 2022, 2023, 2024 (two units), 2025 and 2026.
The launching ceremony of the first the Multipurpose Offshore Patrol Ship (PPA) “Paolo Thaon di Revel” took place on June 15 2019 at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Muggiano (La Spezia). The first ship-in-class started sea trials on November 19. 2019. It is set to be commissioned in 2021 with the Italian Navy next year.
The PPA is a highly flexible ship with the capacity to serve multiple functions, ranging from patrol with sea rescue capacity to Civil Protection operations and, in its most highly equipped version, first line fighting vessel. There will be indeed different configurations of combat system: starting from a “light” version for the patrol task, integrated for self-defence ability, to a “full” one, equipped for a complete defence ability. The vessel is also capable of operating high-speed vessels such as RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat) up to 11 meters long through lateral cranes or a hauling ramp located at the far stern.
The PPA “full” version will see its total displacement increased to 6,270 tons (compared to 5,880 tons for the “light+” version and 5830 tons for the “light” version) and its length increased to 143 meters. PPA “full” will thus be comparable to Italian FREMM type frigates (total displacement of 6900 tons and a length of 144 meters). The crew complement of the PPA “full” configuration should be 173 people.
PPA Sensor and Weapon Systems
The sensor and weapon suite of these “patrol ships” is quite impressive, as the PPA in “full” configuration will be fitted with the Leonardo dual-band radar system AFAR (C and X bands), which provides missile defense capabilities as well as a towed and hull mounted sonar.
The armament of the ship should include the SAAM-ESD anti-aircraft missile system with 16 vertical launchers for Aster 15 and Aster 30 SAM, eight Teseo / Otomat Mk 2A Evolutio anti-ship missiles, a 127-mm / 64 Leonardo LW main gun and a 76mm secondary gun with Strales / Davide guided ammunition, two 25-mm remote weapon systems, two 533-mm torpedo launchers. The hangar will be able to accommodate two NH90 or a single AW101 helicopter. At the stern of the ship there is a ramp to quickly launch and recover a 11-meter RHIB, as well as two so-called modular zones with the possibility of placing there a total of 13 standard containers for reconfigurable payload.
• 132.5 meters long
• Speed more than 31 knots according to vessel configuration and operational conditions
• 171 persons of the crew
• Equipped with a combined diesel, a gas turbine plant (CODAG) and an electric propulsion system
• Capacity to supply drinking water to land
• Capacity to provide electricity to land with 2000 kw of power
• 2 modular zones at the stern and at the center of the ship that allow the embarking of various types of containerized operating/logistic/residential/healthcare modules (in particular, the stern area may receive and handle within a covered area up to 5 modules in ISO 20” containers, while the central zone may receive and handle up to 8 ISO 20” containers)