The Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) today held the commissioning ceremony for the new offshore patrol vessel (OPV) P71 at the Maritime Squadron’s Base, Haywharf.
The vessel which was delivered to the AFM back on November 7th, 2022 by Cantiere Navali Vittoria also reported by Horizon here, is the largest ever vessel built for the AFM.
The OPV P71, which has room for 50 crew members and an additional 20 special operations unit operatives, is outfitted with cutting-edge sailing technology to guard the nation’s borders.
“A few years ago, the idea of having a new offshore patrol Vessel was just a dream, an ambition. Today this dream has become reality. This vessel is the result of years of hard work and dedication from all those involved, and it represents a significant milestone in our efforts to modernise and strengthen the capabilities of our armed forces.”Brigadier Clinton O’Neill, Commander, Armed Forces of Malta
The new flagship, co-financed by the EU through the Internal Security Fund and totalling over €50 million, will conduct SAR operations in the central Mediterranean as well as surveillance in coastal and offshore monitoring.
“Undoubtedly this new patrol vessel, the first ever vessel exclusively tailor-build to cater for the Armed Forces’ needs, will be an instrument of great support for surveillance and control operations in the heart of the Mediterranean.”Hon Dr Byron Camilleri,
Minister for Home Affairs, Security, Reforms and Equality
The patrol boat is outfitted with advanced equipment for sailing as well as a variety of duties that may be necessary, including sensitive operations. In addition, it features a helicopter deck at the back where the AW139 of the AFM may land for refuelling or operate directly from the ship if necessary, or else up to six containers or vehicles can be loaded.
The ship is equipped with a cutting-edge radar and communication system, a 25-millimetre gun, an armoury, and two nine-meter rigid-hull inflatable boats (rhib). The crew’s amenities range from accommodations, a restaurant, a gym, and a modest medical facility with a medic on board who can use telemedicine to follow instructions from a doctor on land. The P71 can move at a speed of more than 20 knots despite having a length of about 75 meters and a width of 13 meters, the vessel has a full displacement of over 2,000 tons.