Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri has held a steel cutting ceremony for the Italian Navy's multipurpose offshore patrol ship (PPA) to mark the start of construction works on the unit.

The event took place at the company's shipyard in La Spezia, Italy.

The PPA is the first of seven proposed units and is to be built as a part of the Italian Navy's plan to renew the operational lines of its vessels, which was approved by the Italian Government and Parliament and commenced in May 2015.

Plans have been outlined for the construction of nine new units under the initiative, which includes seven PPAs, one multipurpose amphibious unit or landing helicopter dock (LHD), and one logistic support unit or logistic support ship (LSS).

Delivery of the vessels is currently scheduled for 2021.

The 132.5m-long PPA will be equipped with the capability to address a wide range of functions, from patrol with sea rescue capacity to civil protection operations. The most highly equipped version will also be able to function as the first line fighting vessel.

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By GlobalData
"The 132.5m-long PPA will be equipped with the capability to address a wide range of functions, from patrol with sea rescue capacity to civil protection operations."

Units will also be capable of operating high-speed vessels, such as rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIB) up to 11m in length via use of lateral cranes or a hauling ramp located at the far stern.

The PPA vessels can operate at speeds of more than 33kn, and are able to accommodate 171 crew members and features a combined diesel and gas turbine plant (CODAG) and an electric propulsion system.

It will also be equipped with the ability to supply drinking water, as well as electricity with 2000kW of power to land.

Fincantieri previously conducted the steel cutting ceremony of the Italian Navy's logistic support ship's (LSS) stern section in February last year, at its shipyard in Sestri Levante, Genoa, Italy.