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
184 vessels (incl. minor auxiliaries)
70 aircraft[1]
Motto(s) Italian: Patria e Onore
"Country and Honour"
March La Ritirata ("Ritirata" in Italian means the return of soldiers to their barrack, or in this case of sailors to their ship after a leave) 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 Staff of the Italian Navy)
ammiraglio di squadra
Valter Girardelli
sottocapo di stato maggiore della marina
Deputy Chief of Naval Staff
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 (Italian: Marina Militare, lit. "Military Navy"; abbreviated as MM) is the maritime defence force 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 184 vessels in service, including minor auxiliary vessels.[2] The total displacement of the navy was around 295,000 tonnes in 2002.[3]


Before and during World War II[edit]

Main article: Regia Marina

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.[citation needed]

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[citation needed]

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.
La Spezia, 1951: carrier Aquila just before being scrapped.

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.[citation needed]

The entry into NATO[edit]

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 battleship Giulio Cesare and other naval units designated for transfer. The cruisers Attilio Regolo and Scipione Africano became the French Chateaurenault and Guichen, while 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.

The carrier Cavour in the Gulf of Oman, 2013

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.

Structure and organisation[edit]


In 2012 the Navy began a restructuring process that will see a 21% decrease in personnel by 2025. A new structure was implemented in January 2014.[4] The command structure is depicted below:[5]

Reporting to the Logistics Command is Maritime Command - divided into four areas who provide logistic support for their areas.[4]

Italian Navy org chart 2016.jpg

Position Italian title Rank Incumbent
Navy Chief of Staff Capo di Stato Maggiore della Marina Ammiraglio di squadra Valter Girardelli
Navy Deputy Chief of Staff Sottocapo di Stato Maggiore della Marina Ammiraglio di squadra Maurizio Gimignani
Commander in Chief Naval Fleet (CINCNAV) Comandante in Capo della Squadra Navale Ammiraglio di squadra Donato Marzano
Commander in Chief Logistics Command (MARICOMLOG) Comandante Logistico Ammiraglio di squadra Raffaele Caruso[6]
Commander in Chief Schools Command (MARICOMSCUOLE) Comandante Scuole Ammiraglio di squadra Salvatore Ruzittu[7]

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. The Coast Guard has approximately 11 000 staff. [8]


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

  • 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)


Command of the Italian Fleet (ships, submarines and amphibious forces) and Naval aviation[9] falls under Commander in Chief Naval Fleet


Ships and submarines[edit]

Today's Marina Militare is a modern navy with ships of every type. The fleet is in continuous evolution, and as of October 2016 oceangoing fleet units include: two aircraft carriers, three amphibious assault ships, four destroyers, 14 frigates and seven attack submarines. Patrol and littoral warfare units include: 10 offshore patrol vessels and four corvettes. Ten mine countermeasure vessels, four coastal patrol boats and a varied fleet of auxiliary ships are also in service.[10]

The flagship of the fleet is the carrier Cavour.


The Italian Navy operates a diverse fleet of aircraft including fixed-wing, rotary and UAVs.


With 2014 Naval Act has been financed, for Euro 5.4 billion:[12]

  • 1 LHA Trieste (for commissioning in 2022: 32.000 t, 244 m, 12 helos AW101, 4 LCU, 620 San Marco marines); to replace CVL Giuseppe Garibaldi (551)
  • 1 LSS Vulcano (for commissioning in 2019: 23.500 t, 185 m, 2 helos AW101); to replace AOR Stromboli (A5327)
  • 7 PPA "Pattugliatori Polivalenti d'Altura" (with three more on option: for commissioning between 2021/2026: 5.800/6.200 t, 140 m, 1 x 127/64 mm, 1 x 76/62 mm, 34 kn, 2 helos NH90/AW101); to replace Minerva class
  • 2 UNPAV "Unità Navale Polivalente Alta Velocità" (high speed special forces boat: for commissioning between 2018/2019: 180 t, 36 m, 40 kn)

Rank structure[edit]

Main article: Italian Navy ranks

See also[edit]


External links[edit]