“In the upcoming months, many crossings of the Strait will follow up, for the ship will stay in direct support of Operation AGENOR, the military pillar of the European-led Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz (EMASoH). While the Thaon di Revel was entering the Gulf, she accompanied already two merchant vessels through the Strait of Hormuz, in order to contribute to the safe and secure passages of ships in the region”, the Operation AGENOR media office continued.
The ITN Thaon di Revel PPA has therefore started its three months direct support to the Operation AGENOR. On last 6th July, the command of the Force Headquarters of Operation AGENOR was handed over from Belgium rear admiral Tanguy Botman to Italian rear admiral Stefano Costantino. Italy is commanding (for the first time) the multinational military staff for six months, providing extra staff member and air and naval assets in associated and direct support.
The EMASOH is a nine European countries (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway, Portugal, The Netherlands) maritime security initiative to promote safe and secure transit and freedom of navigation for merchant shipping in the Gulf region, Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Oman and the North Arabian Sea. EMASoH is deploying surface and air assets monitoring the area, in a de-escalatory way and in accordance with the international law to reassure merchant shipping.
The FoC Paolo Thaon di Revel PPA is on its first operational deployment since its delivery to the Italian Navy by Fincantieri through OCCAR agency on 18 March 2022 and assignment to the 1st Naval Division of the Italian Navy based in La Spezia after a fitting-out in the difficult pandemic period under the ITN New Shipbuilding and Outfitting Centre (MARINALLES) and the Italian MoD Naval Armament Directorate (NAVARM) New Ship Construction Office (UTNAV) survey. The crew headed by commander Emanuele Morea has since conducted the preliminary training in parallel with on board system acceptance trails which were completed on 21 April under the support and training certification of the 1st Naval Division HQ’s board lead by its commander, admiral Lorenzano di Renzo.
The Thaon di Revel subsequently participated to the Italian Navy most important yearly attained exercise Mare Aperto from the beginning of May, being the First-of-Class (FoC) platform among the latest shipbuilding programmes to participate to this exercise before conducting the so-called ‘elementary training’ finalized to prepare and certify the crew to conduct the operational activities. The ship arrived at Taranto naval base on 16 June to conduct the elementary training by the Italian Navy naval-air training centre (MARICENTADD) and be certified ‘ready for operations’.
With a crew including a flight detachment with one NHIndustries SH-90A helicopter from the 4th helicopter group, a team of the GOS (Gruppo Operativo Subacquei) divers/EOD group and a detachment of the San Marco (amphibious) brigade for security and boarding activities, the Thaon di Revel left La Spezia for the Middle East mission on 12 August, receiving the visit of the ITN Chief of the Fleet (CINCNAV), admiral Aurelio De Carolis, while on sailing towards the Suez Channel.
Although the Italian Navy and authorities are not commenting, Naval News understood the Thaon di Revel has been sailing and passed at least the Suez Channel together with the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces’ Al Zubarah (F 101) corvette and Musherib (Q 61) OPV on their transferring voyage to Qatar.
According to the EMASOH statement Thaon di Revel has later conducted a passing exercise with the Spanish Navy’s frigate Numancia (F 83), the flagship of EUNAVFOR Operation Atlanta and the latter newly appointed Force Commander Commodore Marcelo Correia of Portuguese Navy, visited the ITN ship. According to the same statement, the PPA was also in support to the Operation Atalanta, before passing under Operation AGENOR-EMASOH. Italy also currently deploys the Fasan (F 591) FREMM frigate to the EU mission Operation Atalanta.
The Middle East deployment for the Thaon di Revel will continue after the Operation AGENOR-EMASOH with the participation to the Italia Joint Task Force to be deployed in Qatar to contribute to the security of the FIFA World Cup 2022 event being attained between 20 November and 18 December.
The Pattugliatori Polivalenti d’Altura are a new class of ITN combatant platforms which represents a technological and capability jump compared to current generation. Design to conduct a wide range of missions, from maritime security to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR), the PPAs are being delivered in three configurations (Light, Light Plus and Full) based on common platform and differencing for the new generation sensors and weapon outfit. The Paolo Thaon di Revel (P 430) is the First-of-Class (FoC) and due to the new design and equipment a prototype platform. With an overall length of 143 m, a beam of 16.5 m, a 5m draught and a displacement of ca 6350 tonnes at full load (PPA in the Full configuration), the PPAs are distinguished by a unique hull design featuring a wave-piercing bow for higher speeds, stabiliser fins positioned amidships, a steel hull up to the first level over the main deck, the superstructures divided into main blocks and two modular multipurpose areas respectively amidship and under the flight deck to accommodate a range of equipment to conduct from military to HADR operations.
With a crew of over 130 elements, for its first deployment, the Thaon di Revel is equipped with two Zodiac Hurricane (9 and 7 meters) RHIBs being respectively operated by a stern launch and recovery station and amidship with davit in addition to five standard shelters for additional personnel accommodation in the modular area under flight deck. The latter can operate an EH101 while the hangar is able to accommodate and maintain up to two SH90As and in the future unmanned air vehicles.
The biggest innovations regard the ship management, cyber defence and combat systems provided respectively by (Fincantieri) Seastema and Leonardo together with MBDA Italia (PPA Light Plus and Full) and Elettronica, with a new combat operational station (PLOC, Plancia Operativa di Combattimento) instead of the integrated ‘conventional’ bridge, incorporating the new ‘Naval Cockpit’ (PICN, Postazione di Condotta Nave Integrata) with two officers for ship conducting, navigation and combat, the ship commander station with multiple screens, four operator consoles with surface/air/weapon control tasks, the enhanced steering console with two stations and a navigation station with tactical table.
Behind the PLOC is the Combat Operations Centre with the latest generation SADOC MK 4 Combat Management Systems (CMS) developed by Leonardo which manages a new integrated sensor and weapon suite. The latter is centred mainly for the PPA Light configuration of the Thaon di Revel on the Leonardo X-band four fixed-faces AESA Kronos StarFire multifunction radar and the new NA-30S Mk2 EO/dual-band radar fire control, both managing the gun armament including the Leonardo 127/64 mm LightWeight (LW) main gun capable of firing Vulcano long-range guided/unguided ammunitions and the 76/62 Super Rapido in the Single Deck (SovraPonte) Strales configuration with guiding antenna and DART guided ammunitions for anti-missile and asymmetric defence and in the future Vulcano rounds, alongside two remote-controlled 25 mm guns. The integrated sensor suite includes Elettronica RESM/CESM and Leonardo EO/IR surveillance systems in addition to SITEP Italia long-range acoustic and laser dazzling devices and GEM Elettronica dual-band navigation radars. The propulsion is based on a combined diesel and gas or electric (CODAGOL) arrangement featuring two MTU20V8000M91L diesel engines and an Avio/General Electric LM2500+G4 gas turbine, together with two GE reversible electric motors on two shafts providing a maximum speed of 31+ knots. The electric motors enable economic patrol low speeds while MAN or Isotta Fraschini diesel generators with selective catalytic system (SCR) comply with IMO Tier III emissions regulation.
The PPA construction, fitting, and delivery programme regard two PPA Light (which is the Thaon di Revel configuration), three PPA Light Plus with 127/64 mm, SovraPonte, 25 mm guns, MBDA Italia SAAM ESD PPA air defence missile system with Aster missiles and Naval Group two eight-cell VLSs and the C-band Kronos Quad multifunction four-fixed faces AESA radar and two PPA Full. The latter includes all the previous mentioned weapon systems including the latest version of the Aster 30 family, Leonardo AESA Dual Band Radar (Kronos Quad plus StarFire radars and EW/radar system manager)/Elettronica RESM/CESM/RECM integrated suite, DDS-IRST (Distributed Static Staring-IRST), the ASW suite with Leonardo ATAS towed sonar, OLDS 20 anti-torpedo/AAW decoy launchers and other systems including the Teseo Mk2/E long range ASCM/strike missiles. According to ITN plans based on latest operational scenarios, the two PPAs Light are planned to be taken to a PPA Full configuration.