Home Europe OPV P71: An Offshore Patrol Vessel Delivered to Armed Forces of Malta

OPV P71: An Offshore Patrol Vessel Delivered to Armed Forces of Malta

A new 246-foot (75-meter)  OPV P71 vessel, worth 50 million euros and built by Italy’s Cantiere Navale Vittoria, has become the new flagship of the Armed Forces of Malta. The largest patrol vessel entered the port of La Valletta on November 7, 2022, to start its mission of coastal and offshore surveillance and SAR operations in the Central Mediterranean. OPV P71 is the result of the contract obtained by the Venetian company through its participation in a preselection first and in an international public tender that was then headed by the Ministry of Defence of the island and also co-financed (75% by the EU), which is under the Internal Security Fund (ISF) 2014–2020. The fund has been established by the Union for the implementation of the internal security strategy, the management of the external borders of the European countries, and law enforcement cooperation.

About OPV P71

With a full load displacement of over 2000 tons, a length and width of 74.8 and 13 meters, respectively, and a draft of 3.8 meters, the OPV P71 can accommodate a crew of nearly 50 and an additional 20 staff. With 360-degree vision capability, the platform is characterized by an elevated bridge, which is equipped with ballistic protection according to level 2 of STANAG 4569 (NATO standard) and with protected side passages for personnel on the main deck and around the same bridge.

The OPV P71 has an aft flight deck that is designed to accommodate a telescopic hanger with equipment for day and night flight operations. It also can refuel a helicopter of up to 7 tons, such as the AW139 supplied to the Armed Forces of Malta. The aft area below the flight deck features a launch and recovery ramp for a 9.1-meter RHIB. It has additional space for material and personnel, as well as hatches on the flight deck above for loading and unloading materials.

A second station for RHIB of 9.1 meters has been located at the starboard side of the platform in the central area of the ship along with a compensated A-frame crane. It can launch and retrieve the RHIB even with units underway. Both RHIBs reach a maximum range of speed of over 40 knots, and ready aid is provided to maritime traffic control, and search and rescue operations in which the mother unit is engaged.

Alternatively, at patrol speeds between 9 and over 12 knots, the ship can be propelled. It is done by two electric motors keyed to the power take-off of the gearboxes (PTI), which are powered by two of the three main generators of 750 kW at medium speed. The vessel is equipped with two transverse thrusters, one forward and one aft, and retractable active stabilizing fins, guaranteeing seaworthiness and great stability. The P71 is designed and built under the surveillance of the US Naval Registry ABS, which is equipped with a 25mm remotely controlled weapon and light machine guns of diverse calibres along with an integrated command, control, and navigation system that includes a 2D surveillance radar, a navigation radar, and satellite communications.