Fincantieri has launched the sixth Pattugliatori Polivalenti d’Altura (PPA) multi-purpose offshore patrol vessel (OPV), the Ruggiero di Lauria, from its Muggiano shipyard according to a 6 October press release.

The ceremony was attended by, among others, Team Admiral Enrico Credendino, Chief of Staff of the Navy, and Gianmarco Medusei, President of the Regional Council – Legislative Assembly of Liguria, welcomed on behalf of Fincantieri by General Claudio Graziano, President, and Dario Deste, General Director of the Military Ships Division.

Launched in May 2015, under the aegis of OCCAR (Organisation for Joint Co-operation in Armaments), the new unit is part of the Italian Government’s plan to replace the ageing fleet of patrol boats, corvettes and frigates.

According to GlobalData intelligence, the Italian Navy currently operates 30 light combat vessels, including eight different classes, 26 of which were inducted in the Navy between 1985 and 2006.

The Italian Navy plans to induct seven PPA class OPVs by 2026; two of which are currently in active service.

Fincantieri, an Italian shipbuilding company, is the prime contractor for the PPA class. The construction of the first patrol vessel began in February 2017.

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By GlobalData

PPA’s primary missions include patrolling, surface combat, anti-piracy, monitoring, protection and control of maritime zones and rescue of personnel in distress.

Each OPV will be able to carry up to 171 crew members. The overall length is approximately 143m, while the length between perpendiculars is 133m. The depth and beams of the vessel are 10.5m and 16.5m respectively.

A hangar located at the aft of the vessel can hold up to two NH90 or one EH101 medium-lift utility helicopter. A flight deck, which is placed next to the hangar near the stern of the ship, is intended to support the operations of one NH90 or one EH101 helicopter.

The single largest segment in Italy’s defence budget are light combat vessels, which are valued at $2.9bn (€2.8bn), comprised of a new force of 12 minesweepers, the construction of seven PPA OPVs, and a smaller procurement of 46 ‘RHIB’ boats. The projected annual spend for this segment grows steadily from $453.6m in 2023 to $532m in 2028, for a compound annual growth rate of 3.2%.