ROME — Italian state shipyard Fincantieri and Italian defense group Finmeccanica have signed a €1.1 billion (US $1.2 billion) contract to construct a new amphibious ship, or LHD, for the Italian Navy.

In a statement, the two firms said that Finmeccanica's share of the deal was €273 million euros and Fincantieri's share was €853 million, euros, with the vessel to be delivered in 2022.

Fincantieri is the lead firm in a temporary consortium between the two firms, with Finmeccanica's unit Selex ES handling the combat system.

The order is part of a €5.4 billion euro renewal program for the Italian Navy, and follows the signing by the firms in May to build six multipurpose offshore patrol ships, known by their Italian acronym PPA, and one logistics support ship.

The PPA vessels will be delivered between 2012 and 2025. Fincantieri and Finmeccanica will provide 10ten years of logistics support for the vessels.

Selex will supply an X band, four-fixed-face, multifunctional, scanned-array radar for the LHD and integrate systems supplied by Oto Melara, WASS and Elettronica, the statement said.

Ship characteristics, as described by Finmeccanica and Fincantieri:

The unit will be approximately 200 meters long with a maximum speed of 25 knots. It will be equipped with a combined diesel and gas turbine plant (CODOG) and be able to accommodate on board more than 1,000 people, of whom more than 700 would be military or civilian transported people.

The LHD's main mission is the transport of people, vehicles and loads of different kinds and their landing at ports or in unequipped areas using vessels such as small LCM landing craft units with a load capacity up to 60 tons, four of which can be carried by the LHD in a floodable basin at the rear of the ship.

The LHD's military profile provides transport and landing, in equipped and unequipped areas, of troops, military vehicles, and logistics equipment.

The civil profile use provides:

• Healthcare and hospital support.

• Transfer and landing of people and wheeled or tracked means of transport in equipped and unequipped areas.

• Supply of drinking water to land through on board desalination plants or storage.

• Supply of electricity to land with 2000 kilowatts of power and its distribution through containerized conversion and distribution units.

• Possibility of accommodating specialized staff on board or hosting up to 700 civilian personnel, plus the same number in containerized residential units.

• Rescue operations base through helicopters and vessels.

Equipped with wide embarkment areas of about 4,500 mq including the dock-garage and hangar-garage, and with a continuous open deck, the vessel will receive wheeled vehicles of various kinds, as well as containers and helicopters.

The different areas of cargo storage are accessible through stern and side ramps, and cargo handling will be managed by internal ramps and elevators.

On board there will be a fully equipped hospital, complete with operating rooms, radiology and analysis rooms, a dentist's office, and hospital rooms capable of hosting 28 seriously injured patients (further admissions are possible through specially equipped container modules).