Construction on the Italian Navy's eighth Frégate Européen multi-mission (FREMM) vessel has started with the cutting of the first sheeting ceremony at Fincantieri's shipyard in Riva Trigoso near Genoa, Italy.
The vessels, which will be delivered as part of a contract awarded to Orizzonte Sistemi Navali to build ten vessels for the Italian Navy, will replace the ageing Fincantieri-built Lupo and Maestrale-class ships by 2021.
Orizzonte Sistemi Navali, 51% Fincantieri and 49% Finmeccanica owned, is the prime contractor for Italy, while Armaris, a joint venture between DCNS and Thales, is the prime contractor for France.
The FREMM multi-mission ship programme is part of a major cooperation agreement between France and Italy. It includes 11 frigates for France, with the deliveries closing in 2022.
Italy will receive the vessels in an anti-submarine warfare model and a general-purpose vehicle version. They will be able to operate in a wide range of scenarios, including patrolling and protecting the Mediterranean area.
The Italian FREMM vessels will be armed with the SAAM Aster 15 missile system, Teseo Mk2 sea-skimming anti-ship missiles and MBDA's Milas all-weather weapon system, to support anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-air warfare missions.
In addition, the ships will feature EMPAR G-band multifunction phased-array radar and a Galileo Avionica silent acquisition surveillance system, which will serve as an infrared search and track system.
In December, Avio Aero, a GE Aviation business, was contracted to deliver its LM2500+G4 aeroderivative marine gas turbine engine for the eighth vessel.
Capable of cruising at speeds in excess of 27k and accommodating a crew of 145 with an availability of 200 berths, the 144m-long and 19.7m-wide ship has a full load displacement of approximately 6,500t.
Image: The fifth Italian FREMM frigate, Alpino. Photo: courtesy of Orizzonte Sistemi Navali S.p.A.