11 Juni 2012

Italy Could Surrender Some of Its Fleet to Third Countries

11 Juni 2012

Maestrale class frigates has 122,7m in length and displacement 3.100 ton (photo : Naval Technology)

Italy is suffering severely for the current economic crisis and, despite the measures taken to stem the losses, the forecasts for the future is bleak. The data presented at Eurosatory - arms fair held in Paris - show a country in great difficulties even in the defense sector: the Ministry of the total budget is spent 22.4M-17.6M dollars in four years, with a reduction of 21.4% in 2012 compared to 2008.

The Italian government is trying, like many other European countries, to cut the unnecessary and at the same time find ways to sustain capacity and invest in new technologies. No wonder, then, that Italy is planning to get rid of some of its vehicles in service in favor of potential buyers, to reduce costs and raise cash.

It will be the Navy to be more affected by this process, if ever the government decides to implement it. The Navy has 82 ships in service of various kinds and 6 submarines. The plan is to get rid of 26-28 vessels, according to a statement by Admiral Louis Binelli Mantelli, Chief of Staff of the Navy, during a hearing at the Senate defense committee. In the list of 'offers' there would be 7 frigates, 6/8 corvettes, 4 ships trainer, 4 offshore tugboats, 3 coastal minesweepers and 2 carriers.

Not all ships in the list will bring money into the bank of the Navy Department. Some units have reached the maximum number of years of life and will be withdrawn from service and were not included in the list because now considered unusable. Others, such as deminer Lerici, retired from service last March, is still considered suitable for sale as the Maestrale class frigates, including the most 'old' will still be retired at the end of 2013.


At the moment it is not yet clear which (or which) countries the ships will be offered. Whispers in the corridors of the ministry of an interest in the Mistral frigates from the Philippines, but there is nothing concrete. Nor is it clear what ships will be sold and which will be given away for free. The latter possibility, keeping in view of the Admiral. Part of the vessels on the list, in fact, require significant work and upgrades, and the Navy is aware that discarding will have to make them palatable for free. On the other hand, if they were to be scrapped would still represent a cost to the Italian State.


Binelli Mantelli also supported the need to involve industry in the sale of Italian naval ships. The example to follow is the sale of two Lupo class frigates to Peru in 2005, the ships were withdrawn from service with the Italian Navy, renovated in the shipyards of Fincantieri and later sold to Peru. The agreement has thus resulted in an advantage for our Navy, but also for the Italian shipbuilding industry.

The transaction, however, poses two risks: the first is that the wave of enthusiasm is decided to reduce the excessive number of vessels in service, compromising the functionality of the Navy. The second risk relates to the implicit competition against Italian shipping industry: ship used to market low cost could halt the construction / purchase of new vessels, because potential customers would turn to MMT.

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