ROME — Italian state shipyard Fincantieri and Italian defense group Finmeccanica have signed a long-awaited contract to start work on a flotilla of new ships for the Italian Navy.

In a €3.5 billion (US $3.9 billion) euro deal, the two firms signed up to build six multipurpose offshore patrol ships, known by their Italian acronym PPA, and one logistic support ship. The deal, which was handled through European armaments office OCCAR, envisages four more options for PPA vessels.

The work will be undertaken by a temporary industrial teaming between Fincantieri and Finmeccanica unit Selex ES, which will build the combat systems.

Fincantieri's share of the work is €2.3 billion euros and Finmeccanica's share is €1.2 billion, euros, the firms said in a statement on Thursday.

The logistic vessel is to be delivered in 2019, while the PPA vessels will be delivered in 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 (two units) and 2025.

The work is covered by Italy's so-called Naval Law, which has freed up €5.4 billion euros for fleet renewal and will stretch to the subsequent signing of a contract for an LPD vessel. Under the deals, Fincantieri will give logistic support for10ten years.

Fincantieri's Logistic Support Ship (LSS) concept.

Photo Credit: Christopher P. Cavas/staff

Selex will manage contributions to the program from other firms, including Finmeccanica stablemates Oto Melara and WASS, as well as missile house MBDA and Italian electronic warfare firm Elettronica.

Selex and Fincantieri will work together on a new cockpit-style bridge that brings together navigation and combat functions, the statement said.

"This program has a deep industrial value, in addition to the significant geo-political implications with the relaunch of Italy's role in the Mediterranean," said Fincantieri CEO Giuseppe Bono.

Ship characteristics, as described by Finmeccanica and Fincantieri

PPA – Multipurpose Offshore Patrol Ship

The multipurpose offshore patrol ship is a highly flexible ship with capacity to serve multiple functions ranging from patrol with sea rescue capacity to civil protection operations, and in its most highly equipped version, first line fighting vessel. There will be indeed different configurations of combat system: a "soft" one for the patrol task integrated for self-defense ability, and a "full" one, equipped for a complete defense ability.

The vessel is also capable of operating high-speed vessels such as RIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat) up to 11 meters long through lateral cranes or a hauling ramp located at the far stern.

The ship is 129 meters long, has a 171-person crew and can reach a speed of more than 31 knots. It is equipped with a combined diesel and gas turbine plant, can (CODAG) supply drinking water to land and provide • Capacity to provide electricity to land with 2,000 kilowatts of power.

It has two2 modular zones at the stern and at the center of the ship that allow the embarking of various types of containerized operating/logistic/healthcare modules (in particular, the stern area may receive and handle within a covered area up to five 5 modules in ISO 20-foot" containers, while the central zone may receive and handle up to eight8 ISO 20-foot containers).

The PPAs will be built at the Integrated Shipyard of Riva Trigoso and Muggiano, with delivery expected, for the first vessel of the class, in 2021. , while the following deliveries of the vessels will take place in 2022, 2023, 2024 (two units), and 2025.

LSS – Logistic Support Ship

The LSS is a vessel that provides logistics support to the fleet, endowed with hospital and healthcare capabilities thanks to the presence of a fully equipped hospital, complete with operating rooms, radiology and analysis rooms, a dentist's office and hospital rooms capable of hosting up to 12 seriously injured patients. The ship can transport is capable of combining capacity to transport and transfer to other transport vessels used for liquids (diesel fuel, jet fuel, fresh water) and solids (emergency spare parts, food and ammunitions) and perform at-sea repairs and maintenance work for other vessels.

The defense systems are limited to the capacity of command and control in tactical scenarios, communications and dissuasive, non-lethal defense systems. The vessel is also capable of embarking more complex defense systems and becoming an intelligence and electronic war platform.

The vessel will be 165 meters long, carry 200 persons including crew and specialists, and have a speed of 20 knots. It will have four 4 replenishment stations abeam and one 1 astern. It will have the capacity to supply drinking water to land and provide 2,500 kilowatts of power. It can Possibility of embarking up to eight8 residential and healthcare modules.

The ship will be able to Capacity to perform rescues at sea, through recovery and seabed operations (the ship is equipped with a 30-ton offshore stabilized crane stabilized), and serve as a base for rescue operations through helicopters and special vessels. Delivery is scheduled in 2019.