The Malta Independent 15 April 2021, Thursday

New AFM flagship patrol boat takes to the water

Monday, 1 March 2021, 14:53 Last update: about 2 months ago

The newest patrol boat of the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) has taken to the water for the first time as works on it continue.

The 48.5 million ship, co-financed by the EU as part of the Internal Security Fund, will be used for surveillance operations, monitoring of the coastline and on the high seas, and search and recovery (SAR).

The OPV P71 is a 75-metre-long vessel designed and constructed by the Venetian Vittoria shipyard that specializes in building ships up to 100 metres in overall length for military, paramilitary, commercial, transportation and work-related use.

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It is destined to become the flagship of the Armed Forces of Malta and to be used to carry out coastal monitoring operations, extended patrol missions offshore and SAR operations.

The launch ceremony was held in the presence of AFM Brigadier Jeffrey Curmi.

The delivery ceremony was attended by Maddalena De Luca, prefect of Rovigo, Omar Barbierato, mayor of Rovigo, Raffaele Cavallo, police commissioner of Rovigo, and some of the highest representatives of the Port Authority of Venice and Chioggia, who witnessed the traditional blessing and christening by water of the ship when it entered the Bianco Canal.

With a full-load displacement of 1,800 metric tons, an overall length of 74.8 metres, a beam of 13 metres, a draft of 3.8 metres, the OPV P71 is ready to host 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 design of 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 the service of the Armed Forces of Malta.

The aft end below the flight deck has a launch and recovery control station for a 9.1-metre RIB with additional space for supplies and personnel. There are also doors on the overhead flight deck for the loading/unloading of supplies thanks to a purpose-made davit on the port side of the ship.

Another station also intended for a 9.1-metre RIB is located on the starboard side of the platform in the central area of the vessel. Both RIBs are capable of a maximum speed of more than 40 knots for the control of sea traffic and search and rescue operations.

The hybrid propulsion system of the P71 is based on two diesel engines, 5,440kW each, that integrate the same number of electric motors, of non-specified power output, two shafts with variable-pitch propellers and as a whole are able to provide a speed of more than 20 knots.

The new unit is equipped with a bow and stern thruster as well as active-fin stabilizers to guarantee maximum stability. The vessel has been designed and built under the supervision of the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS).

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