Earlier this week the new AFM patrol boat was launched in Italy. Work now begins on the finishing touches to equip the boat for various delicate military operations to be carried out specialised military personnel. Two years of work have been devoted to the vessels five levels.
Two years ago work commenced to ensure crucial tests to ascertain the vessel will meet the speed and sea worthiness required in high seas. At the same time work was ongoing to put together the metal structure as from April 2019. Since then, the shipyard Cantiere Navale Vittoria – in the north of Italy – has utilised over 1,000 tons of steel and 60 tons of aluminium to form the hull structure for the AFM vessel. Stages of the work were supervised by AFM officials throughout as confirmed by Commander-in-Chief, Brigadier Jeffrey Curmi.
He explained there is commitment by the personnel who will be using the vessel and although this was constructed to specifications there were also various ancillary requirements requested by AFM who after all will be operating the vessel.
The patrol boat has five levels. At the underwater level there are two engines that will propel the boat. There are also two electric motors that may be used when the maximum speed is not required. The boat has no generators and an emergency generator that will generate on-board electricity. The prow of the boat has a plant for the treatment of affluence that will purify sea water into potable water, equipment to warm the water, a cold store and a facility to store foodstuffs.
The boat has a double hull and contains fuel and water tanks. Besides the fuel needed to propel P71 there are stores for two other types of fuel in case this is needed for helicopters or to be used by other vessels.
At the second level, water level, in the stern there is space for a dinghy that will slide into the sea when needed, the control room for the engines, accommodation space for soldier personnel, small workshops for repairs needed at sea, and a gym.
A kitchen has been installed at the third level, with space for eating, accommodation, offices and an armoury.
The remaining two structures have been manufactured and by the middle of this month will be put in pace and will be wielded to the structure. The bed of the fourth level is devoted to the placement of a cannon. In the stern there is place for a helicopter or for the placing of vehicles and containers in cases of humanitarian rescues. On the side there is another dinghy. At the stern of the structure there is a garage, a helicopter control room and accommodation and facilities for officers, as well as a small medical centre.
The top deck is dominated by the Bridge for navigational purposes and as an operational centre.
The aim has been to provide a vessel with technological balance needed for a vessel such as this and thus a balance that can be maintained.
In the coming days completion will enter its final phases when the boat will be moored alongside a wharf and a boost will be given for the installation of needed on-board services as well as the placement of military equipment. With a length of 75 metres and a width of 13 metres, the P71 will be able to attain speeds above 20 knots per hour and provide for a crew of 40 personnel and an additional 20 military personnel from the Special Military Operations Unit if required.