Italian Navy press release – Translated by Naval News
At first light of dawn, the aircraft carrier Cavour left its berth at the Military Maritime Arsenal of Taranto on May 6. 2020. The extraordinary opening of the Ponte Girevole allowed the ship to cross the navigable canal and leave the Mar Piccolo, after a long work stop at the Arsenal, to return to her berth in the Mar Grande of Taranto.
Cavour completed a maintenance and modernization period of 16 months during which she was also brought dry in the dry dock “Edgardo Ferrati”, one of the largest basins in Europe. Thanks to the synergy created between the Arsenal’s workers, the specialized companies and the contribution of the technical staff of the Navy and the crew on board, the flagship of the Navy completed – on schedule – all the works, including the adaptation to the standards for the new F-35B aircraft.
Despite the COVID-19 emergency, therefore, with a crew necessarily reduced to the essential in compliance with the measures aimed at counteracting the risk of contagion, the aircraft carrier crossed the navigable channel with a complex and delicate precision manoeuvre. The ship, 244 meters long, 39 meters wide and with more than 27,000 tons of displacement, is the largest ship to have crossed the navigable channel since the war, in fact its dimensions are the maximum possible for transit; at the narrowest point of the channel, the lateral distance from the dock was about 7 meters. With seafaring expertise the crew conducted the manoeuvre, using a special superstructure mounted in the middle of the flight deck, leading the unit towards the open sea. The transit was also assisted by the support of the staff of the Naval Station, the port tugboats and pilots and the staff of the Southern Maritime Command.
“The return to sea represents an important goal for Cavour ship, after 16 months of stopover, of which the last two faced with the difficulties arising from the pandemic linked to COVID 19” ,
“But with the right procedures and adequate security measures, put in place by the Navy, we were able to complete the work and return the ship to the service of the country”.Captain Marco Casapieri
The aircraft carrier will complete the technical tests in the coming weeks, at the end of which an intense training period will begin.
Naval News comments:
Technical interventions carried out on board the aircraft carrier included the overhaul of the flight deck with a new deck coating. This was necessary to limit the thermodynamic impacts when the F-35B STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) variant will take off and land.
Later this year, the Cavour aircraft carrier will face a preparatory training period ahead of its departure for the United States where it will conduct some integration tests with the F-35B. These activities will represent the first important steps for achieving the Initial Operational Capacity of the aircraft carrier with its renewed Italian Naval Aviation capability.
The Cavour upgrade phase started a month after the second Italian Navy’s F35B – individual registration code 4-02 – took off from the Cameri (Novara) Final Assembly and Check Out plant FACO to make its flight to the United States. The aircraft final destination was MCAS Beaufort, in South Carolina, where the aircraft joined the first F-35B (4-01) in supporting the training of the F-35B Italian pilots and technicians.
The Italian Navy ordered a total of 15 F-35B fighter jets. The Italian Air Force has the same amount on order (in addition to about 60 F-35A models).