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Marina Militare
Italian Navy
Naval Ensign of Italy.svg

Ensign of the Marina Militare. Merchant navy adopts a similar ensign, where no crown appears and the lion holds the opened book instead of a sword.
Active 1946 - today
(as Regia Marina 17 March 1861 - 1946)
Country Italy
Branch Navy
Type Navy
Size 35,200 active personnel

85 commissioned ships, 123 aircraft

Motto Patria e Onore
Country and Honour
Anniversaries June 10 - Sinking of the Austro-Hungarian battleship SMS Szent István by Luigi Rizzo
Capo di Stato Maggiore della Marina Ammiraglio di Squadra
Paolo La Rosa
Sottocapo di Stato Maggiore della Marina Ammiraglio di Squadra
Luigi Binelli Mantelli

The Marina Militare is the navy of the Italian Republic. It is one of the four branches of military forces of Italy; formed in 1946, from what remained of the Regia Marina (Royal Navy). The Marina Militare has 35,200 active troops (2008) with 85 commissioned ships and 123 aircraft of all types in service. The Italian Navy is considered to be the 5th or 6th most powerful navy in the European Union. The Marina Militare also has minor Blue water capabilities though rarely operates out side of Europe.



Jack of the Italian Navy.

The ensign of the Italian Navy is the Italian tricolour defaced with the coat of arms of the Marina Militare. The quarters refer to the four Medieval Italian Thalassocracies, or "Maritime Republics" (Italian: Repubbliche Marinare):

The shield has a golden crown, that distinguish military vessels from merchant: the crown, "Corona rostrata", was proposed in 1939 by Admiral Domenico Cavagnari to the Government, as an acknowledge of the Italian Navy's origin since the Roman times. In the proposal, Adm. Cavagnari wrote that "in order to recall the common origin [of the Navy] from the Roman sailorship, the Insignia will be surmounted by the towered Crown with rostrums, the emblem of honour and valour the Roman Senate awarded to the leaders of naval victories, conquerors of lands and cities across the seas".

A further difference is that St. Mark's lion, symbolising the Republic of Venice, is holding the gospel in its paw closed (on the civil ensign it is open at the words "Pax tibi Marce, evangelista meus", meaning "Peace to you Mark, my Evangelist") and is instead wielding a sword.


The Regia Marina was formed on 17 March 1861, after the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy; it assumed its present name after the Italian monarchy was abolished following a popular referendum held on 2 June 1946.

After World War II

Aircraft Carrier Aquila, damaged by Allies bombing in 1943.

At the end of its five years involvement in World War II, Italy was a devastated nation. After the end of hostilities the Regia Marina, which at the beginning of the war was the fourth largest navy in the world with a mix of modernised and new battleships, started a long and complex rebuilding process. The important combat contributions of the Italian naval forces after the signing of the armistice with the Allies on 8 September 1943 and the subsequent cooperation agreement on 23 September 1943 left the Regia Marina in a poor condition, with much of its infrastructure and bases unusable and its ports mined and blocked by sunken ships. However, a large number of its naval units had survived the war, albeit in a low efficiency state, which was due to the conflict and the age of many vessels. The vessels that remained were:

  • 2 aircraft carriers
  • 5 battleships
  • 9 cruisers
  • 11 destroyers
  • 22 frigates
  • 19 corvettes
  • 44 fast coastal patrol units
  • 50 minesweepers
  • 16 amphibious operations vessels
  • 2 school ships
  • 1 support ship and plane transport
  • various submarine units

The peace Treaty

The Peace Treaty signed on February 10, 1947 in Paris was onerous for Regia Marina. Apart from territorial and material losses, also the following restrictions were imposed:

  • A ban to own, to build or to experiment with atomic weapons, self-propulsion projectiles or relative launchers, etc…
  • A ban to own Battleships, Aircraft carriers, Submarines and Amphibious Assault units.
  • A ban to operate military installations on the islands of Pantelleria, Pianosa and on the archipelago of Pelagie Islands.

The treaty also ordered Italy to put the following ships at the disposals of the victorious nations United States, Soviet Union, Great Britain, France, Greece, Yugoslavia and Albania as war compensation:

  • 3 Battleships: Giulio Cesare, Italia, Vittorio Veneto;
  • 5 Cruisers: Emanuele Filiberto Duca d'Aosta, Attilio Regolo, Scipione Africano, Eugenio di Savoia and Eritrea;
  • 7 Destroyers, 5 of the "Soldati" class and Augusto Riboty and Alfredo Oriani;
  • 6 Minesweepers: like Aliseo and Fortunale;
  • 8 Submarines: 3 of the "Acciaio" class;
  • 1 Sailing School ship: Cristoforo Colombo.

The total displacement, battleships excluded, of the future navy was not allowed to be greater than 67,500 tons, while the staff was capped at 25,000 men.

The entry into NATO

La Spezia, 1951: RM Aquila just before being scrapped.

The great changes in the international political situation convinced the United Kingdom and United States to cease the process of handing in of the navy's large ships, which had been dismantled in La Spezia between 1948 and 1955, including the flagship aircraft carrier "Aquila". The Soviet Union, instead, claimed the handing in of the warship "Giulio Cesare" and much of units to her attributed. The cruisers "Attilio Regolo" and "Scipione Africano" became the French "Chateaurenault" and "Guichen", while the "Eugenio di Savoia" became the Greek "Helli". So only a small part of the fleet, that which was not transferred or demolished, could be reinserted in the Marina.

As US attention turned to the Soviets and the Mediterranean Sea it transformed Italian seas in one of the main places of confrontation between the two superpowers, contributing to the re-emergence of Italy’s importance and of its ports thanks to her strategic geographical position.

With the new elections in 1946, the Kingdom of Italy became a Republic, and the Regia Marina took the name of Marina Militare (Military Navy). In full Marshall Plan and in a context where Europe was going to be divided in two set against blocks, Italy began to entertain talks with the United States aimed to obtain adequate safety guarantee. The government in Washington, greatly interested to keep its own installations on the Italian Peninsula, loosened peace Treaty bonds by inserting the Italian nation into the Mutual Defense Assistance Programme (MDAP).

On 4 April 1949, Italy joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), corroborating her impossibility to contributing actively in the organization: that lead to the definitive repeal of the peace Treaty bonds by the end of 1951, with the consent of all of Western nations.

Within NATO, the Marina Militare was assigned the control of the Adriatic Sea and Strait of Otranto, as well as the defence of the naval routes through the Tyrrhenian Sea. To ensure these tasks was carried out a "Studio sul potenziamento della Marina italiana in relazione al Patto Atlantico" (Study about the Development of the Italian navy with reference to the Atlantic Pact) was undertaken, which researched the structures and the methods for the development of the Marina Militare.

This solution required a great economic effort aimed at the rebuilding and transformation of the fleet; it also required aid from the United States to reach the necessary standard. However the program carried on slowly both due to the economic pressures on Italy due to the post-war period rebuilding process and by the obstacles placed by some of European governments who were concerned at seeing an Italian Navy capable of rivalling the Western naval forces.

Present Day Marina Militare

The new Cavour aircraft carrier.

Today's Marina Militare is a modern navy with ships of every type, such as:

  • 2 aircraft carriers,
  • 4 destroyers
  • 12 frigates
  • 6 submarines
  • 8 corvettes
  • 14 patrol boat
  • 3 Landing Platform Docks
  • 15 auxiliares

The fleet is in continuous evolution; the Marina Militare is now equipping herself with a bigger aircraft carrier (the Cavour), new destroyers, submarines and multipurpose frigates. In modern times, the Marina Militare, being a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), has taken part in many coalition peacekeeping operations. The "Marina Militare" maintains the San Marco Regiment who serve as the marines of the Italian navy. The Italian Navy also owns Polaris A3 in La Spezia arsenal.[citation needed]

Structure and Organization


Marina Militare is divided into six corps:

  • Stato Maggiore (line officers)
  • Genio Navale (engineering)
  • Armi Navali (weapons and combat systems)
  • Commissariato Militare Marittimo (administration)
  • Corpo Sanitario (medical service)
  • Capitanerie di porto (coast guard)


  • Capo di Stato Maggiore della Marina (Navy Chief of Staff)- Ammiraglio di Squadra Paolo La Rosa
  • Sottocapo di Stato Maggiore della Marina (Navy Deputy Chief of Staff)- Ammiraglio di Squadra Luigi Binelli Mantelli
  • Fleet Command - Comandante in Capo della Squadra Navale (CINCNAV) Ammiraglio di Squadra Giuseppe Lertora
    • Comando Forze d'Altura COMFORAL (based in Taranto): ships Garibaldi, Espero, Etna, Durand de la Penne, Mimbelli, San Giorgio, San Marco, San Giusto, Elettra
      • COMSQUAFR 1 (based in Taranto): ships Aliseo, Euro, Zefiro, Espero, Artigliere, Bersagliere, Granatiere, Aviere, Stromboli
      • COMSQUAFR 2 (based in La Spezia): ships Maestrale, Grecale, Libeccio, Scirocco, Vesuvio
    • Comando delle Forze da Pattugliamento per la Sorveglianza e la Difesa Costiera COMFORPAT (based in Augusta):
      • COMSQUACORV: ships Minerva, Urania, Danaide, Sfinge, Chimera, Driade, Fenice, Sibilla
      • COMSQUAPAT 1: ships Cassiopea, Libra, Spica, Vega
      • COMSQUAPAT 2: ships Cigala Fulgosi, Borsini, Foscari, Bettica, Sirio, Orione
    • Comando delle Forze Anfibie COMFORSBARC (based in Brindisi):
    • Comando Forze Subacquee COMFORSUB (based in Taranto):
      • COMGRUPSOM: submarines Da Vinci, Pelosi, Prini, Longobardo, Gazzana, Todaro, Scirè
    • Centro di Addestramento Aeronavale MARICENTADD
    • Comando Forze Aeree COMFORAER (based in Santa Rosa)
    • Centro per le Telecomunicazioni e l'Informatica MARITELE (based in Roma)
    • Comando delle Forze di Contromisure Mine COMFORDRAG (based in La Spezia):
      • COMSQUADRAG 53: ships Numana, Rimini, Sapri, Termoli, Viareggio, Vieste
      • COMSQUADRAG 54: ships Alghero, Chioggia, Crotone, Gaeta, Lerici, Milazzo
    • Quartier Generale Marina QUARTGENMARINA (based in Roma)

For the Italian Navy Rank Structure see: Italian Navy ranks.


Fleet composition

Aircraft carriers (2)

Destroyers (4)

  • Orizzonte
    • Andrea Doria (D 553)
    • Caio Duilio (D 554)
  • Durand de la Penne class
    • Luigi Durand de la Penne (D 560) (formerly Animoso)
    • Francesco Mimbelli (D 561) (formerly Ardimentoso)

Amphibious transport dock (3)

Frigates (12)

  • Maestrale class
    • Maestrale (F 570)
    • Grecale (F 571)
    • Libeccio (F 572)
    • Scirocco (F 573)
    • Aliseo (F 574)
    • Euro (F 575)
    • Espero (F 576)
    • Zeffiro (F 577)
  • Artigliere class
    • Artigliere (F 582)
    • Aviere (F 583)
    • Bersagliere (F 584)
    • Granatiere (F 585)
  • FREMM Class
    • (10 frigates under construction)
    • Carlo Bergamini (F 586)
    • Carlo Margottini (F 587)

Corvettes (8)

  • Minerva class
    • Minerva (F 551)
    • Danaide (F 553)
    • Urania (F 552)
    • Sfinge (F 554)
    • Driade (F 555)
    • Chimera (F 556)
    • Fenice (F 557)
    • Sibilla (F 558)

OPV & Patrol boats and corvettes (14)

  • Cassiopea class
    • Cassiopea (P 401)
    • Libra (P 402)
    • Spica (P 403)
    • Vega (P 404)
  • Esploratore class
    • Esploratore (P 405)
    • Sentinella (P 406)
    • Vedetta (P 407)
    • Staffetta (P 408)
  • Cassiopea 2 class
    • Sirio (P 409)
    • Orione (P 410)
  • Comandanti class
    • Comandante Cigala Fulgosi (P 490)
    • Comandante Borsini (P 491)
    • Comandante Bettica (P 492)
    • Comandante Foscari (P 493)

Mine Counter-Measure Vessels (17)

  • Lerici class - 1st series
    • Lerici (M 5550)
    • Sapri (M 5551)
    • Milazzo (M 5552)
    • Vieste (M 5553)
  • Lerici class – 2nd series
    • Gaeta (M 5554)
    • Termoli (M 5555)
    • Alghero (M 5556)
    • Numana (M 5557)
    • Crotone (M 5558)
    • Viareggio (M 5559)
    • Chioggia (M 5560)
    • Rimini (M 5561)
  • Ponza class
    • Ponza (A 5364)
    • Levanzo (A 5366)
    • Tavolata (A 5367)
    • Palmaria (A 5368)
    • Procida (A 5383)

Submarines (6)

  • Todaro class
    • Salvatore Todaro (S 526)
    • Sciré (S 527)
  • Sauro IV class
    • Primo Longobardo (S 524)
    • Gianfranco Gazzana Priaroggia (S 525)
  • Sauro III class
    • Salvatore Pelosi (S 522)
    • Giuliano Prini (S 523)
    • another three in reserve

Auxiliaries (3)

  • Squadron Replenishment Ships
    • Etna (A 5326)
    • Stromboli (A 5327)
    • Vesuvio (A 5329)
  • Gasoline Tankers (4)
    • Panarea (A 5370)
    • Linosa (A 5371)
    • Favignana (A 5372)
    • Salina (A 5373)
  • Water Transports (2)
    • Ticino (A 5376)
    • Tirso (A 5377)
  • Vehicle Transport Ships (6)
    • Gorgona (A 5347)
    • Tremiti (A 5348)
    • Caprera (A 5349)
    • Pantelleria (A 5351)
    • Lipari (A 5352)
    • Capri (A 5353)
  • Weapons Test Ships (3)
    • Carabiniere (F 581) (ex Frigate)
    • Raffaele Rossetti (A 5315)
    • Vincenzo Martellotta (A 5320)

Other (2)

  • Anteo (A 5309): Submarine Rescue and Salvage Ship
  • Elettra (A 5340): Electronic Warfare Ship

Decommissioned Ships

Submarine Evangelista Torricelli (S-512), former USS Lizardfish (SS-373).

Under Construction (10)

Planned (10)

  • 1 Assault Helicopter Carrier 25,000 tonn
  • 2 U212A submarines
  • 1 Orizzonte class anti-air warfare destroyer
  • 2 improved Etna squadron replenishment ships to replace Stromboli and Vesuvio
  • 3 LPD/LHD to replace San Giorgio San Giusto San Marco
  • 1 Logistic and command ship for minehunters
  • 1 Logistic, rescue and command ship for submarines


Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service[1] Notes
Agusta AB212  Italy antisubmarine helicopter AB212 30 built by Agusta, originally 67
AgustaWestland EH101  Italy
 United Kingdom
multirole naval helicopter ASW
for major unit
4 TTH, 4 ASH and 2 AS2H
for aircraft carrier
NHI NH90  European Union naval helicopter NFH
Boeing AV-8 Harrier  United Kingdom fighter
lost 1 AV-8B
F-35B  United States Stealth multi-role fighter F-35B 0 22 on order


  1. ^ "World Military Aircraft Inventory", Aerospace Source Book 2007, Aviation Week & Space Technology, January 15, 2007.

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