Military Wiki
Italian Navy
Marina Militare
CoA Marina Militare Italiana.svg
Active 1946 – Present
(1861 as Regia Marina)
Country  Italy
Type Navy
Size 35,200 personnel
62 ships
82 aircraft

Italian language: Patria e Onore

"Country and Honour"
March La Ritirata (Retreat March) by Tommaso Mario
Anniversaries June 10 - Sinking of the Austro-Hungarian battleship SMS Szent István by Luigi Rizzo
Decorations 1 Cavalier Cross of the Military Order of Savoy
3 Cavalier's Crosses of the Military Order of Italy
2 Gold Medals of Military Valor
1 Silver Medal of Military Valor
1 Gold Medal for Merited Public Honor
capo di stato maggiore della marina
(Chief of Naval General Staff)
ammiraglio di squadra
Giuseppe De Giorgi
Ceremonial chief ammiraglio di squadra
Claudio Gaudiosi
Naval Aviation roundels LV Italian Air Force roundel.svgRoundel of Italy (Naval Aviation).svg
Naval Ensign Naval Ensign of Italy.svg
Jack Naval Jack of Italy.svg

The Italian Navy (Marina Militare) is the navy of the Italian Republic. It is one of the four branches of Italian Armed Forces and was formed in 1946 from what remained of the Regia Marina (Royal Navy) after World War 2. As of 2008, the Italian Navy had a strength of 35,200 active personnel with approximately 62 ships in commission (excluding minor auxiliary vessels) and around 80 aircraft. The total displacement of the navy was around 295,000 tonnes in 2002.[1]


Before and during World War II

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

After World War II

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:

  • 5 battleships
  • 10 cruisers
  • 10 destroyers
  • 20 frigates
  • 20 corvettes
  • 50 fast coastal patrol units
  • 50 minesweepers
  • 19 amphibious operations vessels
  • 5 school ships
  • 1 support ship and plane transport
  • various submarine units

The peace Treaty

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

  • A ban on owning, building or experimenting with atomic weapons, self-propulsion projectiles or relative launchers, etc.…
  • A ban on owning Battleships, Aircraft carriers, Submarines and Amphibious Assault units.
  • A ban on operating 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: R.N. Aquila just before being scrapped.

Great changes in the international political situation, which were developing into the Cold War, convinced the United Kingdom and United States to discontinue the transfer of Italy's capital ships as war reparations. Some had already been dismantled in La Spezia between 1948 and 1955, including the flagship aircraft carrier "Aquila". However, the Soviet Union demanded the surrender of the warship "Giulio Cesare" and other naval units designated for transfer. The cruisers "Attilio Regolo" and "Scipione Africano" became the French "Chateaurenault" and "Guichen", while the "Eugenio di Savoia" became the Greek "Helli". After break up and/or transfers, only a small part of the fleet remained to be recommissioned into the Marina. As Western attention turned to the Soviets and the Mediterranean Sea, Italian seas became one of the main sites of confrontation between the two superpowers, contributing to the re-emergence of Italy’s naval importance 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). As the Marshall Plan began to rebuild Italy and Europe was rapidly being divided into two geo-politically antagonistic blocs, Italy began talks with the United States to guarantee adequate security considerations. The government in Washington, wished to keep its own installations on the Italian Peninsula and relaxed the Treaty restrictions by including Italy in the Mutual Defense Assistance Programme (MDAP). On 4 April 1949, Italy joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and, in order for the navy to contribute actively in the organization, the Treaty restrictions were definitively repealed 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 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 to rebuild and transform the fleet; it also required aid from the United States to reach the necessary standards. Progress was slow due to economic pressures on Italy due to post-war rebuilding and some European governments who were concerned at seeing an Italian Navy capable of rivaling the Western naval forces imposed political obstacles to prevent Italian naval development.

Naval ensign

Naval ensign of Italy.

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):

  • 1st quarter: on red, a golden winged lion (the Lion of St. Mark) wielding a sword (Republic of Venice);
  • 2nd quarter: on white field, red cross (Republic of Genoa);
  • 3rd quarter: on blue field, white cross (Republic of Amalfi);
  • 4th quarter: on red field, white cross (Republic of Pisa).

The shield has a golden crown, that distinguishes military vessels from merchant: the crown, "corona rostrata", was proposed in 1939 by Admiral Domenico Cavagnari to the Government, as an acknowledgement of the Italian Navy's origin in 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 rostra, 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, does not hold the gospel in its paw (as it does on the civil ensign, where the book is open at the words "Pax tibi Marce, evangelista meus", meaning "Peace to you Mark, my Evangelist") and is wielding a sword instead: such an image is consistent with the pictorial tradition from Venetian history, in which the book is shown open during peacetime and closed during wartime.


Ships and submarines

The new Cavour aircraft carrier.

Today's Marina Militare is a modern navy with ships of every type. The fleet is in continuous evolution and as of 2013 ocean going fleet units include; two aircraft carriers, three small 7,500 tonne amphibious assault ships, four destroyers, seven frigates and six attack submarines. Patrol and littoral warfare units include; three light frigates, six corvettes and 14 patrol vessels. 10 mine countermeasure vessels and a varied fleet of auxiliary ships are also in service. In the near future, the navy will see at least six FREMM multipurpose frigates enter service to replace the older frigates in service and two more Type 212 submarines to join the two existing Type 212 submarines already in service and replace the four older submarines due to be decommissioned.


Harrier strike aircraft operating from the aircraft carrier Cavour.

Aircraft Origin Role Version Quantity[2] Note
Fixed-wing aircraft
Boeing AV-8B Harrier II United States
Strike aircraft AV-8B
Operated from the aircraft carrier Cavour, to be replaced by 15 F-35B
Piaggio P.180 Avanti  Italy Utility aircraft P.180 3
Agusta-Bell 212  Italy Maritime helicopter (ASW/ASuW)
Transport helicopter
being replaced by NH90, 26 already withdrawn
NHIndustries NH90  Italy Maritime helicopter (ASW/ASuW)
Transport helicopter
40 on order
10 on order
Agusta-Sikorsky ASH-3D Sea King  Italy Maritime helicopter Transport helicopter ASH-3DNLA 2 being replaced by AgustaWestland AW101, 16 already withdrawn
AgustaWestland AW101  Italy Maritime helicopter (ASW/ASuW)
Transport helicopter

Structure and organisation


Marina Militare is divided into seven corps (by precedence):

  • Corpo di stato maggiore - Corps of Staff Officers (SM) (line officers)
  • Corpo del genio navale - Corps of Naval Engineering (GN)
  • Corpo delle armi navali - Corps of the Naval Arms (AN)
  • Corpo sanitario militare marittimo - Maritime Military Medical Corps (MD) for medics; (FM) for Pharmacists
  • Corpo di commissariato militare marittimo - Corps of Military Maritime Commissariat (CM) (administration)
  • Corpo delle capitanerie di porto - Corps of the Port Captaincies (CP) the coast guard
  • Corpo degli equipaggi militari marittimi - Corps of the Military Maritime Crews (CEMM)


  • Capo di Stato Maggiore della Marina (Navy Chief of Staff)- Ammiraglio di squadra Bruno Branciforte
  • Sottocapo di Stato Maggiore della Marina (Navy Deputy Chief of Staff)- Ammiraglio di squadra Maurizio Gemignani
  • Fleet Command - Comandante in Capo della Sqaudra Navale (CINCNAV) Ammiraglio di squadra Luigi Binelli Mantelli
    • 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):
      • San Marco Marine Regiment
      • Logistics and Training Regiment Carlotto
      • Gruppo Mezzi da Sbarco
    • 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)

Rank structure

Future of the Italian Navy

As of June 2013, three FREMM multipurpose frigates have been launched, with three more currently undergoing construction, a further two financed within June 2013 and a further two planned. These ships will replace the eight Maestrale class and four Lupo class frigates, the latter already phased out. Two Type 212 submarines are under construction to replace older types currently in service. An ARS (USSP), about 8.000 t rescue and command ship for submarines (Auxiliary Rescue Ship / Nave Appoggio Incursori), with hydrographic capability, is scheduled for commissioning in 2015, financed since 2013 with initial 5 million Euro in budget, on about 390 million Euro, total cost.

In addition, the Navy is planning:

  • 1 improved squadron replenishment ships (LSS, Logistic Support Ship, 23,000 ton) to replace Stromboli and Vesuvio, in about 2018
  • 2 15,000/20,000-ton amphibious assault ship (LHD), which will start replacing the San Giorgios from 2018/2020; a third vessel, notionally configured as an LHA is also planned for replace the Giuseppe Garibaldi (551).[3]
  • 12 new MSS Maritime Security Ships to replace Soldati, Cassiopea & Minerva classes (4,000-ton, 125 m length, 15 m width, 1 x OTO Melara 127/64 mm Vulcano, 1 x OTO Melara 76/62 Strales, hangar for 2 helos NH-90 or 1 AW-101, 90 crew with accommodation for 230, 35 kts speed with TAG & diesel engines, Selex MFRA 3D four fixed arrays radar), from 2018, one per year.

Historic ships

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

See also


  2. RID, Rivista Italiana Difesa, n.4, aprile 2013; pag. 31.

External links

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