Italian Navy

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Italian Navy
Marina Militare
CoA Marina Militare Italiana.svg
Active 1946 – Present
(1861 as Regia Marina)
Country  Italy
Type Navy
Size 30,923 personnel
63 combat ships (184 total)
70 aircraft [1]
Motto Italian: Patria e Onore
"Country and Honour"
March La Ritirata (Retreat March) by Tommaso Mario
Anniversaries June 10 - Sinking of the Austro-Hungarian battleship SMS Szent István by Luigi Rizzo
Decorations 1 Cavalier Cross of the Military Order of Savoy
3 Cavalier's Crosses of the Military Order of Italy
2 Gold Medals of Military Valor
1 Silver Medal of Military Valor
1 Gold Medal for Merited Public Honor
capo di stato maggiore della marina
(Chief of Naval General Staff)
ammiraglio di squadra
Giuseppe De Giorgi
sottocapo di stato maggiore della marina ammiraglio di squadra
Claudio Gaudiosi
Naval Aviation roundels LV Italian Air Force roundel.svgRoundel of Italy (Naval Aviation).svg
Naval Ensign Naval Ensign of Italy.svg
Jack Naval Jack of Italy.svg

The Italian Navy (Marina Militare) is the navy of the Italian Republic. It is one of the four branches of Italian Armed Forces and was formed in 1946 from what remained of the Regia Marina (Royal Navy) after World War II. As of August 2014, the Italian Navy had a strength of 30,923 active personnel with approximately 63 combat vessels in commission (184, including minor auxiliary vessels [2]) and around 70 aircraft. The total displacement of the navy was around 295,000 tonnes in 2002 [3] and about 312,000 in 2014.


Main article: Regia Marina

Before and during World War II[edit]

The Regia Marina was formed on 17 March 1861, after the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy. The Italian Navy assumed its present name after the Italian monarchy was abolished following a popular referendum held on 2 June 1946.

After World War II[edit]

At the end of its five years involvement in World War II, Italy was a devastated nation. After the end of hostilities the Regia Marina, which at the beginning of the war was the fourth largest navy in the world with a mix of modernised and new battleships, started a long and complex rebuilding process. The important combat contributions of the Italian naval forces after the signing of the armistice with the Allies on 8 September 1943, and the subsequent cooperation agreement on 23 September 1943, left the Regia Marina in a poor condition, with much of its infrastructure and bases unusable and its ports mined and blocked by sunken ships. However, a large number of its naval units had survived the war, albeit in a low efficiency state, which was due to the conflict and the age of many vessels. The vessels that remained were:

  • 5 battleships
  • 10 cruisers
  • 10 destroyers
  • 20 frigates
  • 20 corvettes
  • 50 fast coastal patrol units
  • 50 minesweepers
  • 19 amphibious operations vessels
  • 5 school ships
  • 1 support ship and plane transport
  • various submarine units

The peace treaty[edit]

The peace treaty signed on 10 February 1947 in Paris was onerous for Regia Marina. Apart from territorial and material losses, also the following restrictions were imposed:

  • A ban on owning, building or experimenting with atomic weapons, self-propulsion projectiles or relative launchers, etc.…
  • A ban on owning Battleships, Aircraft carriers, Submarines and Amphibious Assault units.
  • A ban on operating military installations on the islands of Pantelleria, Pianosa and on the archipelago of Pelagie Islands.

The treaty also ordered Italy to put the following ships at the disposals of the victorious nations United States, Soviet Union, Great Britain, France, Greece, Yugoslavia and Albania as war compensation:

  • 3 Battleships: Giulio Cesare, Italia, Vittorio Veneto;
  • 5 Cruisers: Emanuele Filiberto Duca d'Aosta, Attilio Regolo, Scipione Africano, Eugenio di Savoia and Eritrea;
  • 7 Destroyers, 5 of the "Soldati" class and Augusto Riboty and Alfredo Oriani;
  • 6 Minesweepers: like Aliseo and Fortunale;
  • 8 Submarines: 3 of the "Acciaio" class;
  • 1 Sailing School ship: Cristoforo Colombo.

The total displacement, battleships excluded, of the future navy was not allowed to be greater than 67,500 tons, while the staff was capped at 25,000 men.

The entry into NATO[edit]

La Spezia, 1951: R.N. Aquila just before being scrapped.

Great changes in the international political situation, which were developing into the Cold War, convinced the United Kingdom and United States to discontinue the transfer of Italy's capital ships as war reparations. Some had already been dismantled in La Spezia between 1948 and 1955, including the flagship aircraft carrier "Aquila". However, the Soviet Union demanded the surrender of the warship "Giulio Cesare" and other naval units designated for transfer. The cruisers "Attilio Regolo" and "Scipione Africano" became the French "Chateaurenault" and "Guichen", while the "Eugenio di Savoia" became the Greek "Helli". After break up and/or transfers, only a small part of the fleet remained to be recommissioned into the Marina. As Western attention turned to the Soviets and the Mediterranean Sea, Italian seas became one of the main sites of confrontation between the two superpowers, contributing to the re-emergence of Italy’s naval importance thanks to her strategic geographical position.

With the new elections in 1946, the Kingdom of Italy became a Republic, and the Regia Marina took the name of Marina Militare (Military Navy). As the Marshall Plan began to rebuild Italy and Europe was rapidly being divided into two geo-politically antagonistic blocs, Italy began talks with the United States to guarantee adequate security considerations. The US government in Washington wished to keep its own installations on the Italian Peninsula and relaxed the Treaty restrictions by including Italy in the Mutual Defense Assistance Programme (MDAP). On 4 April 1949, Italy joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and, in order for the navy to contribute actively in the organization, the Treaty restrictions were definitively repealed by the end of 1951, with the consent of all of Western nations.

Within NATO, the Marina Militare was assigned combat control of the Adriatic Sea and Strait of Otranto, as well as the defence of the naval routes through the Tyrrhenian Sea. To ensure these tasks a "Studio sul potenziamento della Marina italiana in relazione al Patto Atlantico" (Study about the development of the Italian Navy with reference to the Atlantic Pact) was undertaken, which researched the structures and the methods for the development of the Marina Militare. This solution required a great economic effort to rebuild and transform the fleet; it also required aid from the United States to reach the necessary standards. Progress was slow due to economic pressures on Italy (because of the tremendous resources needed for post-war rebuilding of Italy and its military-industrial complex) and due to opposition from other European governments. These nations were concerned at seeing an Italian Navy capable of rivaling the Western naval forces, so they imposed political obstacles to slow Italian naval development.[citation needed]

Naval ensign[edit]

Naval ensign of Italy.

The ensign of the Italian Navy is the Italian tricolour defaced with the coat of arms of the Marina Militare. The quarters refer to the four Medieval Italian Thalassocracies, or "Maritime Republics" (Italian: Repubbliche Marinare):

The shield has a golden crown, that distinguishes military vessels from merchant: the crown, "corona rostrata", was proposed in 1939 by Admiral Domenico Cavagnari to the Government, as an acknowledgement of the Italian Navy's origin in Roman times. In the proposal, Adm. Cavagnari wrote that "in order to recall the common origin [of the Navy] from the Roman sailorship, the Insignia will be surmounted by the towered Crown with rostra, the emblem of honour and valour the Roman Senate awarded to the leaders of naval victories, conquerors of lands and cities across the seas".

A further difference is that St. Mark's lion, symbolising the Republic of Venice, does not hold the gospel in its paw (as it does on the civil ensign, where the book is open at the words "Pax tibi Marce, evangelista meus", meaning "Peace to you Mark, my Evangelist") and is wielding a sword instead: such an image is consistent with the pictorial tradition from Venetian history, in which the book is shown open during peacetime and closed during wartime.


Ships and submarines[edit]

The Cavour aircraft carrier in 2008
Cavour aircraft carrier in Indian Ocean, 2013

Today's Marina Militare is a modern navy with ships of every type. The fleet is in continuous evolution and as of August 2014 ocean going fleet units include: two aircraft carriers, three amphibious assault ships, four destroyers, fourteen frigates and six attack submarines. Patrol and littoral warfare units include: six corvettes and fourteen patrol vessels. Ten mine countermeasure vessels and a varied fleet of auxiliary ships are also in service.


Model Origin Picture Version Quantity[4] Note
Fixed-wing aircraft
Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II  United States
 United Kingdom

An F-35B Lightning II aircraft lands aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1).jpg F-35B 0 Order of 15 F-35 B, They are planned to be operated from the aircraft carrier Cavour.[5]
Boeing AV-8B Harrier II  United States
 United Kingdom
Marina Militare AV-8B Harrier II.jpg AV-8B [6]
- Operated from the aircraft carriers
- 2 TAV-8B and 16 AV-8B delivered between 1994 and 1998
- 13 was assembled in Italy
Breguet BR-1150 Atlantic  France
Breguet.atlantic.fairford.arp.jpg BR-1150 Atlantic 4 - 18 Delivered between 1972 and 1974
- aircrafts operated by 41° Stormo Antisom of Italian Air Force but with mixed crew, from Italian Navy too
Piaggio P.180M Avanti  Italy MM62211 (8491330939).jpg Piaggio P.180M Avanti II 3 Delivered in 2003
Agusta-Bell 212 ASW  Italy
 United States
MM81176 7-59 an Agusta-Bell AB.212ASW.jpg AB-212ASW [7]
64 delivered in 4 batches since 1976 to end years '80 [8]
being replaced by SH90/NH90 SH90/NH90
NHIndustries NH90  Italy
NH Industries NH-90NFH, Italy - Navy JP7306250.jpg SH90 NFH
36 on order
10 on order
Agusta-Sikorsky SH-3D Sea King [9]  Italy  United States 551-sh3d-esDragon-Hammer92.jpg ASH-3DNLA [10] 2 24 Agusta-Sikorsky SH-3D Sea King delivered between 1968 and 1974
6 Agusta-Sikorsky SH-3D/H Sea King delivered between 1981 and 1982
6 Agusta-Sikorsky SH-3D/H Sea King delivered to end years '80
being replaced by AgustaWestland AW101
AgustaWestland AW101 [11]  Italy Agusta-Westland EH-101-410 Merlin, Italy - Navy JP7306257.jpg 110-ASW
delivered between 2000 and 2009
Schiebel Camcopter S-100 UAV [12]  Austria Schiebel Camcopter S-100 at ILA 2010.jpg S-100 [13] 2 Delivered in 2014
Boeing ScanEagle UAV  United States US Navy 060823-N-8547M-040 An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) called Scan Eagle launches from a pneumatic wedge catapult launcher.jpg Scaneagle [14] 2 Delivered in 2013 (2 systems with 10 UAV [15] )

Structure and organisation[edit]


Marina Militare is divided into seven corps (by precedence):

  • Corpo di stato maggiore - Corps of Staff Officers (SM) (line officers)
  • Corpo del genio navale - Corps of Naval Engineering (GN)
  • Corpo delle armi navali - Corps of the Naval Arms (AN)
  • Corpo sanitario militare marittimo - Maritime Military Medical Corps (MD) for medics; (FM) for Pharmacists
  • Corpo di commissariato militare marittimo - Corps of Military Maritime Commissariat (CM) (administration)
  • Corpo delle capitanerie di porto - Corps of the Port Captaincies (CP) the coast guard
  • Corpo degli equipaggi militari marittimi - Corps of the Military Maritime Crews (CEMM)


  • Capo di Stato Maggiore della Marina (Navy Chief of Staff)- Ammiraglio di squadra Giuseppe de Giorgi
  • Sottocapo di Stato Maggiore della Marina (Navy Deputy Chief of Staff)- Ammiraglio di squadra Claudio Gaudiosi
  • Fleet Command - Comandante in Capo della Squadra Navale (CINCNAV) Ammiraglio di squadra Filippo Maria Foffi
    • Comando Forze d'Altura COMFORAL (based in Taranto): ships Garibaldi, Espero, Etna, Durand de la Penne, Mimbelli, San Giorgio, San Marco, San Giusto, Elettra
      • COMSQUAFR 1 (based in Taranto): ships Aliseo, Euro, Zefiro, Espero, Artigliere, Bersagliere, Granatiere, Aviere, Stromboli
      • COMSQUAFR 2 (based in La Spezia): ships Maestrale, Grecale, Libeccio, Scirocco, Vesuvio
    • Comando delle Forze da Pattugliamento per la Sorveglianza e la Difesa Costiera COMFORPAT (based in Augusta):
      • COMSQUACORV: ships Minerva, Urania, Danaide, Sfinge, Chimera, Driade, Fenice, Sibilla
      • COMSQUAPAT 1: ships Cassiopea, Libra, Spica, Vega
      • COMSQUAPAT 2: ships Cigala Fulgosi, Borsini, Foscari, Bettica, Sirio, Orione
    • Comando delle Forze Anfibie COMFORSBARC (based in Brindisi):
    • Comando Forze Subacquee COMFORSUB (based in Taranto):
      • COMGRUPSOM: submarines Da Vinci, Pelosi, Prini, Longobardo, Gazzana, Todaro, Scirè
    • Centro di Addestramento Aeronavale MARICENTADD
    • Comando Forze Aeree COMFORAER (based in Santa Rosa)
    • Centro per le Telecomunicazioni e l'Informatica MARITELE (based in Roma)
    • Comando delle Forze di Contromisure Mine COMFORDRAG (based in La Spezia):
      • COMSQUADRAG 53: ships Numana, Rimini, Sapri, Termoli, Viareggio, Vieste
      • COMSQUADRAG 54: ships Alghero, Chioggia, Crotone, Gaeta, Lerici, Milazzo
    • Quartier Generale Marina QUARTGENMARINA (based in Roma)

Rank structure[edit]

Main article: Italian Navy ranks

Future of the Italian Navy[edit]

  • As of October 2014, four FREMM multipurpose frigates have been launched, with three more currently undergoing construction, a further one financed within June 2013 and last two (ninth and tenth) authorized on June 18, 2014 to contract (with AAW & ATBM capabilities and with A70 VLS for cruise missiles). These ships will replace the eight Maestrale class and four Lupo class frigates, the latter already phased out.
  • Two Type 212 submarines are under construction to replace older types currently in service (Sauro III class), by 2015 and 2016 (S 528 Pietro Venuti - were launched 9 October 2014 - and S 529 Romeo Romei).
  • 1 improved squadron replenishment ships (Logistic Support Ship, 23,000 ton, double hull, hangar for 2 x AW101, crew 80, to replace Stromboli and Vesuvio, in about 2018. Already financed in 2014.
  • 6 (+4 in option) new PPA (Pattugliatore Polivalente d'Altura, previously defined MSS Maritime Security Ships or UPAD) to replace Cassiopea & Minerva classes (4,500/5,500-ton, 135 m length, 16,5 m width x 10,5 m, 1 x OTO Melara 127/64 mm Vulcano, 1 OTO Melara 76/62 mm Strales, hangar for 2 helos NH-90 or 1 AW-101, crew 30 (Light version, without helos personnel) accommodation for 200, 25 kts cruiser speed (diesels only), 35 kts max speed with TAG & diesel engines, range 5,000 miles to 15 kts, 2/3 RHIBS or special forces boats up to 15 m, 25 x 15 x 5 m internal area for UAV, UUV or other modular systems (MHC, rescue & relief, emergency hospital, etc.): in service from 2017, one per year. First five will be "Light" version, fitted for but not with missiles. 4 of 10 PPA (beginning since the sixth) will be fitted as frigate, to replace Soldati & De la Penne classes, with SAAM-ESD++ AAW/ABM system, with 8 VLS A70 for Aster 30 & Scalp Navale cruise missiles and 6/8 VLS for CAMM-ER missiles (on development by MBDA Italia); 8 x Teseo missiles (ASuW and land attack); 2 x MU-90s torpedo launchers, MFRA AESA 4 fixed flats, double band (C/X) radar. First 6 PPA financed by 2014, with 4 more in option; PPA Full will have ATBM capability (beginning with Aster 30 Bloch 1NT).
  • 2 advanced vessels for special forces use: about 60/70 m length and 60/70 kts max speed, already financed in 2014.
  • 1 assault ship financed by 2014. Rumors says: more than 27,000-ton LHA, which will start replacing one San Giorgio LPD and Giuseppe Garibaldi, LPH from 2018/2020, with SAAM-ESD+ system with VLS A50 for Aster 15 and Aster 30 Block 1 (AAW/ABM missile). The stern floodable dock will can accommodate LCM and LCAC. F-35 and V-22 Osprey friendly, but without sky-jump.
  • An ARS (USSP) - about 10.000 t, 127 m length, 23 m width, 18 kts max speed, 6.000 nm range, 80 crew with accommodation for 180, hangar for 2 helicopters NH90/AW101, DSRV 650 - rescue and command ship for submarines (Auxiliary Rescue Ship / Nave Appoggio Incursori), with hydrographic and artic capability, is scheduled for commissioning in 2018, financed since 2013 with initial 5 million Euro in budget, on about 300 million Euro, total cost. Maybe this one will be delayed.

In addition, the Navy is planning, for middle years '20s:

  • Another improved squadron replenishment ships (Logistic Support Ship, 23,000 ton)
  • Another assault vessel, planned for replace the other San Giorgio class LPD
  • 6/10 COV Cacciamine Oceanico Veloce (OPV/MHC), to replace Comandanti, Sirio & Gaeta classes
  • Another 2 SSK, to replace Sauro IV class
  • Further AW-101 helos (up to 16) or a combination including 3+3 V-22 Osprey.

Coast Guard[edit]

The Corps of the Port Captaincies – Coast Guard (Italian language: Corpo delle Capitanerie di porto - Guardia costiera) is the Coast Guard of Italy and is part of the Italian Navy under the control of the Ministry of Infrastructures and Transports. In Italy, it is commonly known as simply the Guardia costiera.

Guardia di Finanza - Naval service[edit]

The Guardia di Finanza (Italian pronunciation: [ˈɡwardja di fiˈnantsa]; English: Finance Guard) is an Italian law enforcement agency under the authority of the Minister of Economy and Finance and part of the Italian armed forces. The Guard is essentially responsible for dealing with financial crime and smuggling; it has also evolved into Italy's primary agency for suppressing the drugs trade. The Guardia di Finanza maintains over 600 boats and ships and about 100 aircraft to serve in its mission of patrolling Italy's territorial waters and European water borders.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]