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 ships (excl. minor auxiliaries)
70 aircraft [1]
Motto 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 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 (Italian: Marina Militare; 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 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]


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.[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.

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]

La Spezia, 1951: 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 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.

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.


The aircraft carrier Cavour in 2008
The carrier Cavour in the Gulf of Oman, 2013

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 August 2014 oceangoing fleet units include: two aircraft carriers, three amphibious assault ships, four destroyers, 15 frigates and six attack submarines. Patrol and littoral warfare units include: 10 offshore patrol vessels and five corvettes. Ten mine countermeasure vessels, 4 coastal patrol boats and a varied fleet of auxiliary ships are also in service.


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

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 del Primo Gruppo Navale (COMGRUPNAV 1 - First Naval Group Command) - based in La Spezia: ships Caio Duilio, Carlo Bergamini, Virginio Fasan, Carlo Margottini Maestrale, Grecale, Libeccio, Scirocco, Bersagliere, Vesuvio, Elettra
    • Comando del Secondo Gruppo Navale (COMGRUPNAV 2 - Second Naval Group Command) - based in Taranto: ships Andrea Doria, Cavour, Luigi Durand de la Penne, Francesco Mimbelli, Aliseo, Euro, Zeffiro, Espero, Artigliere, Granatiere, Etna, Stromboli
    • Comando del Terzo Gruppo Navale (COMGRUPNAV 3 - Third Naval Group Command) - based in Brindisi): ships Garibaldi, San Giorgio, San Marco, San Giusto
    • 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):
      • COMFLOTSOM: submarines Pelosi, Prini, Longobardo, Gazzana, Todaro, Scirè
    • Centro di Addestramento Aeronavale MARICENTADD
    • Comando Forze Aeree COMFORAER (Italian Navy Fleet Air Arm - based in Santa Rosa)
    • Centro per le Telecomunicazioni e l'Informatica MARITELE (based in Roma)
    • Comando delle Forze di Contromisure Mine MARICODRAG (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 May 2015, five FREMM multipurpose frigates have been launched, with three more currently undergoing construction and last two (ninth and tenth) ordered on April 16, 2015 (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 two older types currently in service (Sauro III class), by 2015 and 2016 (S 528 Pietro Venuti - were launched October 9, 2014 - and S 529 Romeo Romei werw launched July 4, 2015).
  • 1 improved squadron replenishment ships (Logistic Support Ship):
    - 23,000 ton
    - 4 side replenishment stations
    - double hull
    - hangar for 2 x EH101
    - accommodations for 200
    - containers transport capability, with 2 x 30 t cranes
    - LNG transport and at sea replenishment capability
    - dual-fuel (diesel & LNG) propulsion system
    - hospital capability with 12 beds
    - 1 x OTO Melara 76/62 mm Strales
    - 2 x OTO Melara KBA 25/80 mm
    - to replace one Stromboli class AOR, for commissioned in 2019
    - ordered May 7, 2015 for about € 350 millions
  • 6 (+ 4 on option) new PPA (Pattugliatore Polivalente d'Altura, previously defined MSS Maritime Security Ships or UPAD) to replace four Soldati frigate & eight Minerva classes
    - first 6 ordered May 7, 2015, for about € 3,150 millions (R&D included):
    - 4,500 ton (f.l.)
    - 129 m length
    - 16,5 m width
    - CMS with SAAM-ESD++ AAW/ABM system
    - 1 x OTO Melara 127/64 mm Vulcano
    - 1 x OTO Melara 76/62 mm Strales overdeck
    - 2 x OTO Melara KBA 25/80 mm
    - 2 x OTO Melara Decoy Launch Systems (ASW too)
    - hangar for two helos, EH-101 and NH-90
    - crew 90, accommodation for 171
    - 25 kn cruiser speed (diesels only), +32 kn max speed
    - CODAG propulsion system ( Wärtsilä dual-fuel engines + one LM-2500G4+ or Rolls-Royce MT-30 TAG )
    - bi-fuel engines (diesel and LNG) with at sea replenishment capability for both
    - electric propulsion within 7 knots
    - range 6,000 miles to 15 kn
    - 1/3 RHIBS or special forces boats (or combined containers load)
    - 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.) or 5 ISO 20" containers
    - MFRA C-band AESA radar Selex ES Kronos, with 4 fixed flats
    - new X-band AESA radar Selex ES, with 4 fixed flats
    - CIC and bridge integration
    - conformal IFF, Selex ES
    - solid IRST
    - ESM / ECM Elettronica
    - tri-band satellite communications system, Selex ES
    - €350 million every one
    - 4,600 ton (f.l.)
    - + 16 VLS A50 for Aster 15 and 30 missiles (possible CAMM-ER missiles, on development by MBDA Italia)
    - + 8 x Teseo Mk2/A missiles (ASuW and land attack, on 4 double launchers)
    - + containerized VDS WASS sonar
    - + 2 x 324 mm torpedo launch system
    - + 2 x 533 mm torpedo launch system
    - crew 135, accommodation for 171
    - € 450 million every one.
    € 2.620 million for first 6 PPAs; First hull (PPA Light) will be commissioned on 2021 and first PPA Full will be commissioned on 2023, followed by others hulls in 2022 (1), 2023 (1), 2024 (2) and 2025 (1). € 4.580 million for all 10 PPAs (with options). PPA Full version will have ATBM capability (beginning with Aster 30 Bloch 1NT).
  • 2 advanced ultra fast vessels (Unità Navale Polivalente ad Altissima Velocità - UNPAV) for special forces use:
    - length about 39 m
    - width about 8 m
    - 150-ton
    - 1 x OTO Melara Hitrole remote control weapon, 1 x 40 mm grenade-launcher, 6 x 7,62 mm
    - crew 9
    - CODAG propulsion system with 2 diesels and 1 TAG
    - 46 m3 F76 fuel
    - 60/70 kn max speed
    - 40 kn cruise speed
    - range 1.600 miles to 16 kn
    - troops, 20 (navy special forces), with dry dock for special warfare crafts
    - already financed in 2014 for, at least, € 40 million
  • 1 assault ship financed in 2014
    - + 25,000-ton LHD/LHA, which will replacing Giuseppe Garibaldi (C 551) LPH
    - CMS with SAAM-ESD+ system
    - X band AESA 4F Selex ES radar
    - L band LRR AESA Selex ES radar
    - FFBNW 8 VLS A50 for Aster 15 and Aster 30
    - FFBNW 8 VLS for 24 CAMM-ER missiles, on development by MBDA Italia
    - stern floodable dock ( 50 x 15 m ) will can accommodate LCM-1E, L-CAT and LCAC
    - about + 200 x 32 m flight deck
    - F-35 friendly (but only on emergency, without weapons)
    - CH-47/CH-53/V-22 Osprey friendly
    - without sky-jump
    - 5 spots on flight deck for simultaneously operations by 6 AW-101 and 2 A-129/SH-90
    - 2 spot (at least) fitted for CH-47/CH-53/F-35B operations
    - internal deck for 5 AW-101/SH-90s recovery
    - 1.200 linear meters for vehicles parking on internal deck (total 4.500 m2, for hangar deck and truck-deck)
    - crew 450
    - troops 700
    - About 1100 beds of which 50 for hospital roles
    - CODOG propulsion system, for 25 kn max speed
    - vessel will be commissioned within 2022
    - already ordered july, 1 2015 to Fincantieri/Finmecannica for € 1,126 millions

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

  • further PPA (Pattugliatore Polivalente d'Altura), with target of 10 PPA (3 Full & 7 Light)
  • 2 further improved squadron replenishment ships (Logistic Support Ship, 23,000 ton), to replace Vesuvio & Etna ships
  • 2 further assault vessel, in LHD version, 21,000-ton, on the same LHA hull, planned for replace two San Giorgio class LPD
  • 10 COP Cacciamine Oceanico Polivalente (OPV/MHC), to replace Lerici & Gaeta classes
  • Another 2, "New Generation" SSK
  • An ARS (USSP) to replace Anteo
    - about 10,000-ton
    - 127 m length
    - 23 m width
    - 18 kn max speed
    - 6.000 nmi range
    - 80 crew with accommodation for 180
    - hangar for 2 helicopters EH101
    - DSRV 650
    - rescue and command ship for submarines (Auxiliary Rescue Ship / Nave Appoggio Incursori)
    - 2 x bi-fuel engines (diesel + LNG) for total 5 mW
    - about 300 million Euro, total cost
  • An Hydrographic Oceanic Vessel (UIOM), with artic capability (to replace Ammiraglio Magnaghi)
  • 16 AW-101 helos
  • 9 V-22 Osprey
  • 13 UAV/UAS

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]