The Italian-French Multi Mission European Frigates (FREMM) international program is one of Europe’s biggest industrial cooperation projects in the shipbuilding industry. Ten new frigates for the Italian Navy and nine frigates for the French Navy are at the program’s core. The first vessels, the frigates Aquitaine and Carlo Bergamini, were delivered to France and Italy respectively in 2010 and 2011. In 2015, the Italian Navy took up its option on the purchase of the ninth and tenth units, for delivery after 2020.
The FREMM program, state of the art in Italian and European defense, serves the purpose of replacing the Italian Navy’s fleet of the Lupo class (already decommissioned) and Maestrale class (some already decommissioned, some close to the end of their operating lifetimes), built in the 1970s.
The new FREMM vessels contain leading-edge technology and are suitable for a highly diversified spectrum of maritime duties. They are 144 meters long with a beam of about 20 meters and displacement (volume and weight of the water shifted) when fully laden of about seven thousand tons.
Avio Aero has been involved since the start of the program, fitting the vessels with the GE LM2500 +G4 series gas turbines, installed inside the base & enclosure designed and built exclusively by the Italian born business.
Avio Aero also supplies the Turbine Control System (TCS), an electronic monitoring system for aircraft-derived turbines built at Rivalta, a number of engine auxiliary systems and the turbine lubrication system. Working closely with Fincantieri, which builds the ships, Avio Aero takes care of commissioning—which includes the mechanical setup of the turbine on board to render it operational, as well as the actual installation—and oversees the first sea trials to verify and optimize engine performance. GE’s LM family turbines enable these gigantic vessels to plow through the waves with a power of 35 megawatts (MW) at a speed of 27 knots (just over 50km/h on land).
The Avio Aero Brindisi plant—in charge for the LM family turbines service and installation—thanks to an intensive teamwork, satisfied a customer’s need, setting a new record too: for the first time a module was built in just six weeks, allowing delivery to the customer well ahead of time.
The Brindisi site’s involvement in the FREMM program began in 2006, and it also supplies the propulsion modules for the new Pattugliatori Polivalenti Altura (PPA) program for seven Offshore Multipurpose Patrol Ships for the Italian Navy.
“The level of teamwork reached with this delivery is a major milestone for Avio Aero in terms of proving the Brindisi site’s potential,” stated Antonio Marchesano, Marine & Industrial Center of Exellence Leader. “It will help us to consolidate our partnership with major customers such as Fincantieri and the Italian Navy.”