The Armed Forces of Malta has awarded a contract to Italian shipbuilding company Fincantieri to modernise its offshore patrol vessel, P61.

The upgrading of P61 would involve overhaul of a wide range of the shipboard systems. P61 was built more than ten years ago by the Fincantieri.

The major aim of the modernisation project of P61 is to enhance the reaction capability of the unit.

Estimated at €7m, the offshore vessel upgrade activities are slated to commence in Italy in the second quarter of this year.

The modernisation work is estimated to take six months and will be carried out in the Muggiano shipyard (La Spezia) of Fincantieri in the North Tyrrhenian Sea in Italy.

"Upgrade works will considerably extend the offshore patrol vessel’s service-life."

Developed and delivered by the Muggiano shipyard in 2005, Malta’s P61 vessel is more than 53m long.

It is a modified variant of the Diciotti-class patrol boat, which was constructed by the company for the Italian Coast Guard.

Upgrade works will considerably extend the offshore patrol vessel’s service-life.

The contract for the construction of P61 was signed between the Armed Forces of Malta and Fincantieri on 12 March 2004.

Financed through the fifth Italo-Maltese protocol, the offshore patrol vessel was commissioned on 3 November 2005.

Based on the Diciotti-class, the P61 vessel was upgraded with a helicopter deck and stern ramp for launching a 7m rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB).