The Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) has signed a contract with Italian firm Cantiere Navale Vittoria for the construction of a new offshore patrol vessel (OPV) in a bid to modernise the forces.
Designated as P71, the new OPV is expected to complement the Diciotti-class patrol vessel P61 and is set to replace a former Irish Navy OPV P62, which was delivered to the AFM in 2015.
While the AFM launched a project to acquire an additional and more capable OPV in 2015 Cantiere Navale Vittoria was awarded the contract in October last year.
The contract was signed by Brigadier Curmi and Cantiere Navale Vittoria president Luigi Duo.
Construction of the new vessel is expected to begin in the first quarter of this year, with delivery set to take place in the second half of next year.
AFM commander brigadier Jeffrey Curmi said: “This offshore patrol vessel had to have more endurance, better sea keeping and provide better living conditions for our crews.
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“Furthermore, we wanted this new offshore patrol vessel to have improved life-cycle costs in order to ensure that its operations could be sustained in an efficient and effective manner along the years, including better fuel consumption and maintenance costs.”
Spanning an overall length of 74.8m and a displacement of 1,800t, the vessel can cruise at speeds of more than 20k. The vessel will be powered by two 5,440kW engines and two propellers.
The European Union agreed to fund a portion of the cost of acquisition of the vessel.
Last year, P61 completed around €7m mid-life refit.