Construction work has started on the Italian Navy's sixth frégate Européen multi-mission (FREMM) frigate, with the first steel cutting at Fincantieri's shipyard in Riva Trigoso, Genoa, Italy, marking a step forward in the FREMM programme.
Scheduled to be delivered in early 2017, the 144m-long and 19.7m-wide frigate will have a full load displacement capacity of 6,500t, a maximum speed of 27k and can accommodate a crew of 145.
Established in late-2002, the FREMM multi-mission frigate programme is part of a major cooperation programme agreement between France and Italy.
Capable of supporting a range of missions and better safeguard the Mediterranean area, the FREMM frigates will also be used to conduct broad maritime defence strategies such as deterrence, protection, crisis mitigation and power projection.
The Italian frigates will be armed with the SAAM Aster 15 missile system and Teseo Mk2 sea-skimming anti-ship missiles to support anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-air warfare (AAW) missions.
The first and second frigates of the class, Carlo Bergamini and Virginio Fasan, were launched in July 2011 and March 2012; and are expected to be delivered to the Italian Navy later this year.
A total of ten FREMM frigates in two versions, an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) version and a general-purpose (GP) version, will be acquired by Italy by 2021, and six have been ordered to date.
Orizzonte Sistemi Navali (51% Fincantieri, 49% Finmeccanica) is the prime contractor for Italy while Armaris, a joint venture between DCNS and Thales is the prime contractor for France, under the FREMM programme.
The FREMM frigates will replace the ageing Fincantieri-built Lupo and Maestrale-class frigates currently in service with the Italian Navy.
Image: Italian Navy's first FREMM frigate. Photo: courtesy of Fabius1975.