The Organisation Conjointe de Cooperation sur l’Armement (OCCAR) has announced the first steel cutting ceremony for the Italian Navy’s new multipurpose offshore patrol ship (PPA).

The event was held on 7 April at Fincantieri’s integrated shipyard in Muggiano, La Spezia. It marks a key programme milestone and was held four months in advance of the contract schedule.

The Italian Navy’s PPA programme comprises of the development and production of seven ships in three different configurations with incremental capabilities of ‘LIGHT’, ‘LIGHT PLUS’, and ‘FULL’.

These seven ships are being built as part of the Italian fleet renewal programme.

PPA in ‘LIGHT’ configuration will possess a complete set of artillery, while the ‘LIGHT PLUS’ configuration PPA will add missile firing capability with actuators planned also for ballistic missile defence.

Meanwhile, the ‘FULL’ configuration PPA will be equipped to cope with three-dimensional threats such as air, surface and underwater.

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In addition, each system on the ‘FULL’ configuration PPA can be rapidly installed on ‘LIGHT’ and ‘LIGHT PLUS’, offering operational flexibility.

OCCAR noted that the new vessel will be the third ship of the PPA Class in ‘LIGHT PLUS’ configuration and the sixth PPA (PPA6).

The PPA6 is scheduled to be launched during summer 2023. It will be delivered to the Italian Navy in 2025.

Last month, Fincantieri launched PPA Raimondo Montecuccol at its shipyard in Riva Trigoso, Genoa.

In the same month, Fincantieri’s Naval Integrated shipyard delivered the newly built logistics support ship (LSS) Vulcano to the Italian Navy.