Vittoria Shipyard launched the Maltese Armed Forces’ biggest patrol vessel, OPV P71, on February 27, during a ceremony that took place in the facilities of the Venetian company.
The ceremony was attended by the shipyard’s president, Luigi Duò, and AFM commander Brigadier Jeffrey Curmi and other officials from the Rovigo
“I am proud and honored to officiate at moment so important in the life of any ship,” said Vittoria Shipyard president Luigi Duò at the launch ceremony at which Malta was represented by Brigadier Jeffrey Curmi, commander of the armed forces.
Designed as well as built by Vittoria Shipyard, the 75 meter OPV P71 will be the flagship of the Armed Forces of Malta and will carry out coastal monitoring operations, extended patrol missions offshore and search and rescue operations.
The service currently has two large patrol boats. The 53.4m-long P61 was built in Italy to Maltese requirements on the basis of the Diciotti design and commissioned in 2005. P-62, a former Irish Navy vessel, has a length of 65.2metres. P-62 is expected to be retired once P-71 enters service.
The shipyard won the EUR 48.5 million (about $59 million) contract for the ship in an international competitive bidding process. The EU is providing about 75.5% of the funding for the vessel as part of the 2014-2020 Internal Security Fund (ISF). The fund was established by the EU to implement internal security strategy, cooperation related to law enforcement and management of the external borders of the European countries.
With a full-load displacement of 1,800 metric tons, an overall length of 74.8 meters, a beam of 13 meters, a draft of 3.8 meters, the OPV P71 is ready to complement a crew of 50 and an additional 20 personnel members. The platform features an integrated bridge system in an elevated position with a 360-degree view and sheltered side passageways for personnel on the main deck and around the bridge.
The OPV features a stern flight deck, without a hangar but with the capacity to refuel a 7-metric ton helicopter, such as the AW139 in service with the Armed Forces of Malta.
There are doors on the flight deck for the loading/unloading of supplies with a purpose-made davit installed on the port side of the ship.
The aft end below the flight deck has a launch and recovery control station for a 9.1-meter RHIB with additional space for supplies and personnel. A further 9.1-meter RHIB station is located on the starboard side of the platform in the central area of the vessel. Both RHIBs are capable of a maximum speed of more than 40 knots.
The hybrid propulsion system of the P71 is based on two diesel engines, 5,440 kW each, two electric motors, and two shafts driving variable-pitch propellers to provide the vessel with a speed of more than 20 knots.
The vessel is equipped with bow and stern thrusters as well as active-fin stabilizers.
Designed and built under the supervision of the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), the P71 will be armed with a remote-controlled 25 mm gun mount and various caliber light machine guns, while the integrated command, control, and navigation system includes a 2D surveillance radar and satellite communications.