Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri is building four modified Diciotti Class patrol boats, the Saettia MK4s, for the Iraqi Navy, which was all but destroyed in the Gulf War.
The vessels will be deployed to supervise Iraq’s economic zone and will be used in search and rescue missions. The vessels will undertake surveillance of a 58km coastline rich with oil reserves.
The vessels have been built at the Fincantieri shipyard in Riva Trigoso, Italy, under the supervision of the Italian Classification Society, (Registro Italiano Navale (Rina) to ensure they meet international standards of safety and environment.
The new Iraqi Navy is expected to take over maritime security in two years after being trained by the British-led Coalition Naval Advisory and Training Team in Iraq.
The 450t Diciotti has a speed of 20kt and does not require refuelling up to 3,000nm. The ship is fitted with one emergency generator along with two Fincantieri FCP propellers. It has one 10m-long interceptor, a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB), one 5m service boat and one bow thruster. It takes up maritime patrol operations up to sea state 5 and has withstanding capabilities up to sea state 7.
The Maltese Navy replaced its Kondor Class offshore patrol vessel with Diciotti in 2005. The vessel, named P61, was modified to be capable of refuelling light and medium helicopters.
It also provides the helicopters with a daytime landing facility. P61 project was a €17m project funded by the fifth Italo-Maltese Financial Protocol.
The Saettia MK4 is the fourth variant of a missile attack boat that was originally built as a demonstrator and turned into an offshore patrol vessel for the Italian coastguard.
The Saettias are an improved version of the Diciotti as they have a longer length and greater power. Iraq’s version is 53.4m and has a breadth of 8.1m. Two shafts are used, instead of the original four, and the hull lines have been reformed to result in a reduced operating speed.
The vessels have two navigation-and-search radars lightly armed with two machine guns and an Oto Melara 30mm gun. In addition, they feature a Marlin WS (Modular Advanced Remotely-Controlled Lightweight Weapon Station) mount, with an optronic fire-control system.
Fincantieri has also supplied the systems and components for propulsion of each of the vessels. Key elements of this include the Isotta Fraschini V1716T2MSD engines with power of 2,360kW. The company has also supplied the shaft lines and variable pitch propellers.
Electric power generation is supplied by three Isotta Fraschini L1306T3ME generators with power of 220kW and Fincantieri-supplied stabilisers.
Fincantieri signed the contract, worth over €80m, to build the four modified patrol vessels for the Iraqi navy in September 2006. Modifications included increasing the crew size to 78. Along with the vessels, Fincantieri will provide logistical support and training to the crew.
On 15 May 2009, Fincantieri delivered the first Saettia vessel from its Muggiano (La Spezia) shipyard and the Iraqi Navy took delivery of the vessel, the Fateh, in June 2009.
The Fateh, meaning ‘victory’ in Arabic, has taken up surveillance of the Iraqi exclusive economic zone, research and salvage operations, and maritime traffic controls.
The vessel sailed from La Spezia to Umm Qasr in Iraq and has so far covered a distance of over 5,000 nautical miles. The ship was escorted by Italian, American and British warships during its journey. The remaining three vessels are scheduled to be delivered at intervals of three months by January 2010 with crew members being trained in Italy.
Fincantieri has also built five Diciotti Class vessels for the Italian Coastguard and one for the Maltese Navy. They will carry out surveillance, rescue operations, control of maritime traffic, inspections and firefighting.