In an Italian shipyard a new vessel for the AFM’s Maritime Unit was launched and lowered into the water on the way to forming part of the Unit in the largest investment ever having been made in the Armed Forces.
The investment of about €50 million has exceeded the half-way point in its construction and the launch has been lowered into the water over the weekend in a delicate operation culminating the lengthy period spent in providing a new appearance.
A Television Malta crew followed the ceremony and recorded the event in an unique video for the broadcasting station.
The launch is a priority vessel for the Cantiere Navale Vittoria in Adria in the north of Italy, the latest of 890 vessels that have been constructed at this shipyard. Its construction has been taking piece by piece on land and the structure, engines and generators are now in place and thus enabled its lowering into the water where installation of onboard services will now take place.
The authorities in the province and the President of the ‘yard, Luigi Duo, said the company had taken the greatest of care in the construction of the launch, the largest ever military project that has been undertaken. He said that over and above the effects of the pandemic, the project had its own challenges because of the high levels of proficiency necessary, a project which he said is an enhancement for the ‘yard as well as for Malta.
The AFM were represented by its Commander-in-Chief, Brigadier Jeffrey Curmi.
The significant ceremony was widely anticipated to crown months of work on land to lead it to this stage of being lowered in the water for the first time. The excitement and satisfaction of engineers and technicians were highly evident in the expressions of ‘yard employees as well as the suspense that the lowering would be successful.
In line with tradition, the boat was blessed by the Parish Priest from a local parish. Earlier, the hulk had been smeared with fats and lowered in a wooden cradle. The President of the ‘yard then ordered the removal of all rope restraints and the removal of metal strands that were holding the cradle. In anticipation of its future, Brigadier Curmi released a bottle of champagne to smash and splash over the prow, and the vessel was perfectly lowered into the water.
Brigadier Curmi said that many skilled specialists had been involved in the construction and were rewarded by the smooth launching which went as desired.
The Minister for Internal Affairs said that beside an initiative to present better work conditions and greatest investment in human resource, the Government is also committed to provide the AFM with the best tools possible for them to carry out their duties. He said it is satisfactory that such a large investment has been made to enable the AFM give a better service to the country.
In the coming days the launch will be towed into a canal into an area about two kilometres inland from the Adriatic Sea and on board facilities will be installed such as accommodation for officers and the bridge. Some structures had to be dismantled to enable the launch to pass under a bridge.
The structure will then be loaded on a barge and work will continue. Within the AFM Maritime Unit the vessels will be known as Patrol Boat P71 and this will greatly strengthen the capacity of the Unit to carry out operations that are far out at sea.