Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri has laid keel for the Italian Navy's first multipurpose offshore patrol ship (PPA) at its shipyard in Muggiano, La Spezia, Italy.

The PPA is the first of seven proposed units that will be built as part of the navy's plan to renew the operational lines of its vessels.

The Italian Government and Parliament have already approved the renewal plan, which first began in May 2015.

Along with the new PPAs, the Italian Navy also intends to construct one logistic support ship and one multipurpose amphibious landing helicopter dock.

The international organisation for cooperation on arms, Organisation Conjointe de Cooperation sur l’Armement (OCCAR), placed the order for the PPAs with Raggruppamento Temporaneo di Impresa (RTI), which is a consortium consisting of Fincantieri and Finmeccanica. The order was placed via OCCAR's subsidiary Selex ES.

Fincantieri is responsible for building the vessels at its shipyards, as well as providing support throughout the lifecycle of the ships.

"The Italian navy’s 132.5m-long multi-role PPA vessels will have the capability to operate flexibly and with high degree of efficiency in different operating profiles."

Finmeccanica will act as prime contractor for the vessels' combat systems through Selex ES.

The Italian navy’s 132.5m-long multi-role PPA vessels will have the capability to operate flexibly and with high degree of efficiency in different operating profiles. They will be used for military purposes, in addition to various civil protection and rescue operations at sea.

The vessels are to be equipped with a combined diesel, gas turbine plant (CODAG) and an electric propulsion system, and will be able to cruise at a speed of more than 31k, while accommodating 173 crew members.

All the seven PPAs will be constructed at the Integrated Shipyard of Riva Trigoso and Muggiano, with delivery of the first unit currently scheduled for 2021.

Deliveries of the remaining vessels will take place on a one-per-year basis from 2022 to 2026, with two units expected for delivery in 2024.