The ceremony for the launch of the frigate “Emilio Bianchi,” the tenth and final ship of the FREMM (European Multi Mission Frigate) class, took place today at the integrated shipyard of Riva Trigoso (Genoa), with Italian Minister of Defence Lorenzo Guerini in attendance. The ten Fremm ships were ordered from Fincantieri by the Italian Navy within the framework of an Italian–French cooperative program coordinated by OCCAR (Organisation Conjointe de Cooperation sur l’Armement), the international organization for cooperation on armaments. The godmother of the ceremony was Mrs. Maria Elisabetta Bianchi, eldest daughter of Emilio Bianchi, winner of the Italian Gold Medal for Military Valor.
Fincantieri President Giampiero Massolo welcomed the Chief of Staff of the Italian Navy, Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragone, representing the Chief of Defence, General Enzo Vecciarelli, the Governor of the Liguria Region, Giovanni Toti. After the launch, fitting-out activities will continue at the integrated naval shipyard of Muggiano (La Spezia), with delivery scheduled in 2021. The “Emilio Bianchi,” like her sister-ships, features a high degree of flexibility and is capable of operating in all tactical situations. With a length of 144 metres and a beam of 19.7 metres, the ship will have a displacement of approximately 6,700 tonnes at full load. She has a top speed of over 27 knots and will be able to accommodate a up to 200 people, including crew and passengers.
The FREMM (Fregata Europea Multi-Missione or European Multi-Purpose Frigate) is a class of multi-purpose frigates designed by Naval Group and Fincantieri for the navies of France and Italy. The lead ship of the class, Aquitaine, was commissioned in November 2012 by the French Navy. In France the class is known as the Aquitaine class, while in Italy they are known as the Bergamini class. Italy has ordered six general purpose variants and four anti-submarine variants. France has ordered six anti-submarine variants, and two air-defence variants. The class is one of the five finalists for the U.S. Navy’s FFG(X) program. The FREMM program, representing the European and Italian state of the art in naval systems, stems from the Italian Navy’s requirement to replace the “Lupo”-class (now all retired) and “Maestrale”-class frigates (now being decommissioned), both built by Fincantieri in the 1970s.
The ships “Carlo Bergamini” and “Virginio Fasan” were delivered in 2013, the “Carlo Margottini” in 2014, the “Carabiniere” in 2015, the “Alpino” in 2016, the “Luigi Rizzo” in 2017, the “Federico Martinengo” in 2018, and the “Antonio Marceglia” in 2019. The Italian portion of the Fremm program was fully implemented with the option exercised in April 2015 for the construction of the ninth and tenth ships, whose delivery is scheduled after 2020. Orizzonte Sistemi Navali (51% Fincantieri, 49% Leonardo) acts as prime contractor for Italy in the initiative, while Armaris (Naval Group + Thales) is prime contractor for France. This cooperation has applied the positive experience gained in the previous Italo-French program “Orizzonte” that led to the construction for the Italian Navy of the two frigates “Andrea Doria” and “Caio Duilio”.