Italy: Orizzonte Sistemi Navali Starts Construction of New Vessel


The recent steel cut ceremony held at Riva Trigoso Shipyard of FINCANTIERI was not normal routine, but a very special event, under many points of view. First of all, it is the start-up of the first ‘foreign’ contract for Orizzonte Sistemi Navali. As a matter of fact, Orizzonte was born in Europe, not just in Italy, being the Italian Prime Contractor of the FREMM Frigates, the biggest ever European Naval Programme, developed by the Italian and the French Navy.

And Orizzonte is currently concentrated on this Programme, with the second Frigate being launched now, the first one under sea trials and two more presently in construction.

Orizzonte has also just completed the Programme of mid-life modernization of the two Destroyers of the Italian Navy (‘Durand De La Penne Class), so inevitably the next step had to be the international market. And the goal was achieved in a friend Country of the opposite side of the Mediterranean Sea, and with a very special ship, that makes the start-up ceremony of steel cut a very special event.

It is difficult to name this type of ship. Apparently, it has the look of an LPD, and the profile of the ship is very close to the ‘San Giorgio’ or ‘San Giusto’ LPDs of the Italian Navy. It is a ship 143 m long, with a beam of 21.5 m, a displacement of about 9,000 ton. It has a flight deck for helicopters stretching from stern to bow, and a garage deck for fifteen tanks, three Landing Craft Mechanized, three Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel, one Landing Craft Personnel and two boats type RHIB. It has a crew of 150, with a capacity of transporting 440 soldiers for landing operations.

More than an LPD

No doubt, in the end, that it is an LPD. A special LPD, in some way, since it is also provided of an elevator for 30 ton helo, with room for five helicopters under deck, and contains a hospital with 50 beds, surgery room, dental clinic. But a ‘normal’ LPD has few small calibre machine-guns to counter small boats, a traditional Surveillance Radar and maybe some Electronic Countermeasures. This ‘Landing Ship’, instead, overthrows old habits, breaks ancient patterns, and takes the characteristics of a true Flagship.

First of all, the Surveillance Radar is not just the usual 2D Radar, normally installed on-board an LPD, not even a 3D Radar (which would be already unusual), but also Multifunctional, able to track the target while carrying out surveillance function, thanks to an Active Electronically Scanned Array. It is the powerful EMPAR, produced by Selex Sistemi Integrati (performing the Combat System Integration), the radar installed on-board the Horizon and FREMM Destroyers. And also the rest of the weapon suite is very close to the one of Horizon and FREMM: the Missile System is the ASTER 15, with sixteen missiles in two SYLVER Vertical Launchers. One 76/62 Super Rapid Gun of OTO Melara, with two 25 mm machine guns, constitute the gun suite, managed by the same NA 25 FCS of Selex SI as installed on board the Horizon and FREMM ships. An integrated Electronic Warfare System from Thales/Elettronica, associated to two chaff-flares launchers SCLAR-H, like in the FREMM ships, ensures full EW operation, while the Telecommunications System is from Selex Elsag.

It is clear, in the end, that this type of ship, besides its ‘traditional’ missions of amphibious operation and logistic support, is fully equipped for managing additional types of mission, such as air and naval defence, C4I operations for air and naval crafts, rescue and relief to civilian populations.

The ship is powered by two Diesel Engines, assuring a speed of 20 knots and a range of 6,000 miles.

A true revolution, a true challenge

The market faces a true revolution, out of the usual schemes of OPV for patrol functions, Corvettes and Frigates for Combat and escort missions, Destroyers as Flagship and fire power, LPDs for Landing and Logistic Support missions, where each type of ship needed the other types for coordinated support. The requirement of the Customer was for something different, something new, something more advanced, more complete. And such a revolution represents also a challenge for Orizzonte Sistemi Navali. The motto of the Company, in all its brochures, is ‘Commitment and Flexibility’. Good, nice motto, easy to write, easy for showing the flag.

A brave Customer, full of imagination and creativity, met a flexible Company, able to meet such important challenge and to provide the proper answer. Now the ball is in the hands of Orizzonte Sistemi Navali. After showing its Flexibility in providing the proper answer, after the steel cut, it is now time to show its Commitment. The Commitment of providing an effective, comprehensive Vessel in the proper time frame. A new great challenge, that Orizzonte is proud to take up, and sure to fully satisfy.

Naval Today Staff , April 20, 2012;