Italian Navy Harrier AV-8B II+
Copyright: Gianni Scuderi

Italian Navy exercise Mare Aperto (Open Sea) 2019

We are in the waters of the Central Mediterranean, in full “hot zones” having to face a situation of crisis in the environment with the presence of asymmetric threat … the naval forces of the Italian Navy are already deployed in their field of competence ready to intervene for the defense of national interests … ” so the Admiral Donato Marzano, commander of the CINCNAV (Commander of Italian Naval Group), begins the briefing aboard a Garibaldi ship, headquarters of the command of a fleet that is for several days in the Mediterranean.

Also this year the “Mare Aperto (Open Sea) 2019” exercise comes to life with the Garibaldi ship that resumes its role as a light aircraft carrier embarking the Grupaer Harrier AV8B II plus; starting from the military base in Catania we embarked and, having arrived on board Italian Navy unit, we followed closely the initial phases of the exercise that will take place in the waters of the “Mare Nostrum” for twelve days, from April 29th to May 10th, with activities focused on training and testing the abilities of the Commanders and embarked Staffs of italian Naval Grup, to conduct operations in possible areas of international crisis.

As pointed out by Admiral Marzano… one of the priority needs of this exercise is precisely to test the ability of the Italian Command Coordinator 2, as a Team Force to project a NATO force in hypothetical but possible hostile environments with very little notice, in addition to favoring the process of inter-force integration with the other Armed Forces, national agencies and with allies and partners …“. The choice of the scenario located in the central-northern Mediterranean is not accidental, since this sector in recent years has been the scenario of international crises alternating “warm periods with other hot” … even at this moment there is a particular focus on Libya with the negative effects at sea “monitored” by Italian Navy.

The forces placed in “field” are indeed important to the exercise “Mare Aperto (Open Sea)” 2019 with as many as eight nations with about 6000 soldiers, over 40 naval surface units, 5 submarines of which 3 of Italian Navy, 30 embarked air assets and naval units of NATO countries such as Canada, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United States. The air component of the exercise, in addition to the embarked air assets of the Italian Navy and US Navy, is enriched by the participation of aircraft of the Italian Air Force. Eurofighter, AMX and Tornado alternated themselves in missions of reconnaissance, escort and suppression of enemy area defenses, a CAEW (Conformal Airborne Early Warning) asset with functions of aerial surveillance, command and control and communications, an MP-72A used in MPA mission, and a KC-767A which ensures support and air to air refueling.

The units of the italian Naval Group will in fact also conduct specific training in the field of marine pollution prevention and control, and in the “Law Enforcement” operations on the sea, together with the Italian Coast Guard and the Italian Guardia di Finanza naval units, all thanks to the multi-connotation step given to the various training phases with the creation of scenarios characterized by a multidimensional threat with increasing difficulty, where all the participating forces will practice in the main forms of struggle on the sea and from the sea, such as the anti-aircraft, anti-submarine and anti-ship, of mine countermeasures, to combat illicit sea traffic, to manage crisis situations in environments with conventional and asymmetrical threats, in addition to the management of on-board emergencies and the projection of an amphibious force from the sea to land in a cyber environment.

Hence the presence of a landing force composed of 400 men and women from Italian Navy Brigade San Marco, a military rate of the Serenissima Regiment of the Italian Army and 180 Fusiliers of the Spanish Navy Tercio de Armada, all from the compartment of the amphibious troops. On board the Etna ship, a “Medical Role 2” was set up with surgical skills, thanks to a team of 19 units including doctors, nurses and laboratory technicians supported by a representative of the Military Corps of the Red Cross and Nurse Corps Volunteers of the Italian Red Cross. Furthermore, also on the Etna ship, a rate of civil defense employees is also embarked, which will operate from the ship’s workshops for the technical support to the Naval Squad units.

The US Navy USS A. Lincoln aircraft carrier and a Burkley class unit of its task force are also participating in the Mare Aperto (Open Sea) 2019, providing F-18 Hornet Carrier Wing 7 sorties in “Aggressor” functions to train air crews and air defense units.

Finally, the Mare Aperto (Open Sea) 2019 also includes the participation of 48 students from the Aldo Moro University of Bari, the University of Genoa, the Sapienza University of Rome, the Ca ‘Foscari University of Venice and the Free International University of Social Studies (LUISS) Guido Carli of Rome. Students and teachers, in the perspective of “contamination” with the excellence of the academic world, will be actively involved within the Staff that participate in the exercise as “Political and Legal Advisors”, “Public Information Service”, in the engineering field and in the marine geology and geophysics fields.

Light Aircraft Carrier C551 “G. Garibaldi “

Italian Navy Garibaldi aircraft carrier

Next June 4 the cruiser and light aircraft carrier C551 “Giuseppe Garibaldi” will reach the historic milestone of the thirty-sixth anniversary of its launch. Built at the Cantieri Navali di Monfalcone and launched in 1983, Garibaldi is the fourth unit to bear the name of the Risorgimento hero. The first unit was a propeller-driven Pirofregata, the former “Bourbon” of the “Real Marina of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies”, which entered service in the pre-unification “Sabauda Marina” in September 1860; the second was an Armored Cruiser of the “Regia Marina”, of which he was the headmaster, launched in the Ansaldo Shipyards of Sestri Ponente on 28 June 1899, and during the Italian-Turkish war was the teaching ship of Admiral Thaon di Revel, distinguishing himself for his brilliant work in the waters of Libya, the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean. The third unit launched in 1936 was a light “Condottieri” class cruiser, which took part in the Second World War with the “Regia Marina” and, later re-modernized and placed in the ranks of the Navy, was the first European missile cruiser, remaining the fleet’s Ammiraglia until 1971 with the optical code C551. The fourth is the current Garibaldi ship, which entered into operational service at the end of September 1985 and is the first aircraft carrier in the history of the Navy, and has held the prestigious role of flag-ship of the fleet until 2011.

The C551 “Giuseppe Garibaldi” cruiser has a standard displacement of 10,100 tons (increased to 14150 tons following the changes in 2003). Length 180.2 m, waterline width: 23.4 m, draft 6.7 m, flight deck 174 m x 30.50 m, GOGAC propulsion 4 GE-Avio LM-2500 turbines, Power: 82,000 HP on two axes ( 60,400 kWv total), 2 propellers, speed 30 kts, total load capacity 18 structures (12 in the hangar and 6 aircraft on the flight deck), 550 men crew and up to 230 employees for the air component besides the Command staff for a total of 830 men.

The unit was conceived to carry out command and control functions in the context of complex operations, being able to deploy an embarked air component in the theater. In the last three decades the Garibaldi ship has played a key role in several missions in which the Navy took part.

Italian Navy SH-90 helicopter

The first activity in which the unit participated was the operation Restore hope in Somalia (1994), in support of the amphibious operations for the return of the Italian contingent. Subsequently, the unit was part of the UNOSOM Task Force in support of the UN contingent (1995). Employed in the Adriatic Sea in 1999, it played a strategic role by providing operational and logistical support to the Allied operations for the resolution of the Yugoslav crisis, in the context of the DINAK operation. Following the 2001 attacks, it was the headquarters of the ENDURING FREEDOM operation, remaining at sea for 87 days, covering about 20,000 miles.

In the summer of 2006 the Garibaldi ship intervened in the crisis in Lebanon, participating in the LEONTE operation as a command headquarters unit. In 2011, he took part in the UNIFIED PROTECTOR operation, aimed at ensuring compliance with the arms trafficking embargo by sea and the implementation of the no-fly zone towards Libya. Between 2016 and 2017, the unit was used as a “flag-ship” of the Sophia operation, in the EUNAVFORMED device, with over 300 days of stay in that operating theater to counteract the trafficking of human beings and weapons in the Mediterranean .

Within the capacity projections of the sea and the sea, Garibaldi is able to operate as Landing Helicopter Assault (LHA), a unit on which utility helicopters are used to transport troops and materials to be used in amphibious operations.

Italian Navy Harrier

This is the prestigious prize list that accompanies Garibaldi ship which, in the last few years, has still taken part in all the main national and international exercises of the Italian Navy and joint exercises, such as the Joint Stars and the Mare Aperto (Open Sea) in the various editions. Under motto of “Obbedisco” Garibaldi light aircraft carrier renews the unconditional loyalty to the country and the spirit of self-denial of all the Sailors who, during the 36 springs, formed its crew.

The author and Aviation Report wish to express their thanks to the Public Information Office of the Navy Staff at CINCNAV Amm. Squadra Navale Donato Marzano, to the Commander Garibaldi ship CV Stefano Frumento, to the P.I. CC F. Mariani, and all the men and women of the Italian Navy.

Article and images: Gianni Scuderi