Home Americas Italy, Pakistan launch ships in weekend events as US carrier Ford completes...

Italy, Pakistan launch ships in weekend events as US carrier Ford completes 1st deployment

PPA ITS Marcantonio Colonna launch
Photo: Fincantieri

Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri hosted a launch ceremony for the fifth of seven PPA multipurpose offshore patrol ships it is building for the Italian Navy.

Launched at Fincantieri’s Riva Trigoso (Genoa) shipyard on November 26, the ship is named after Marcantonio Colonna, one of Italy’s most distinguished captains of the 16th century, also a protagonist of the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.

Fincantieri is expected to deliver all seven ships by 2026, and has so far handed over two units in the class.

The 133-meter vessels will be capable of operating high-speed vessels such as RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat) up to 11 meters long through lateral cranes or a hauling ramp located at the far stern. Crewed by 145 sailors, the ships will have a top speed of more than 31 knots, and a hangar that will be capable of accommodating two NH90 helicopters.

PNS Khaibar launch ceremony in Turkey

A day before the Italian event, Turkish shipbuilder Istanbul Naval Shipyard launched the third of four MILGEM corvettes it is building for Pakistan. The launch of PNS Khaibar (282) was attended by high-ranking officials from both countries, including Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Pakistan’s prime minister Shehbaz Sherif.

Pakistan’s MILGEM ships, also referred to as the Babur-class, are based on the design of Ada-class corvettes built for the Turkish Navy. The corvettes measure 99.5 meters in length and employ the CODAG propulsion system. Turkey is delivering four ships to Pakistan under a contract from 2018.

USS Gerald R. Ford wraps up maiden deployment

This weekend also saw the world’s largest and most expensive warship, US Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), complete its shake-down deployment in the Atlantic.

The carrier returned to Naval Station Norfolk on November 26, after seven weeks of operations alongside NATO allies and partners.

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) returns to Naval Station Norfolk after completing their inaugural deployment to the Atlantic Ocean with the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group (GRFCSG), Nov. 26. Photo: US Navy

The inaugural deployment was a short one and is expected to be followed by a “global” operation in 2023.

The flagship set sail from Norfolk, Virginia, on October 4, and traveled more than 9,275 nautical miles with GRFCSG. Ford sailors made their first international port visit in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and their first European port visit in Portsmouth, UK.

“This deployment brought together an incredible group of allies and partners with one single focus – to contribute to a peaceful, stable, and conflict-free Atlantic region through our combined naval power,” said Vice Adm. Dan Dwyer, commander, US 2nd Fleet and Joint Force Command Norfolk. “Opportunities to interoperate and integrate make our nations, our navies, and the NATO alliance stronger.”

While deployed, Ford and its carrier strike group participated in exercise Silent Wolverine, demonstrating high-end naval warfare and integrated NATO interoperability in the maritime approaches to Europe. Earlier this month, Ford was also one of five NATO carrier strike groups on patrol in NATO areas of operation.