TechItalian Frigate Luigi Rizzo Bolsters NATO's Defense in Baltic Sea

Italian Frigate Luigi Rizzo Bolsters NATO's Defense in Baltic Sea

Frigate Luigi Rizzo of the FREMM type
Frigate Luigi Rizzo of the FREMM type
Images source: © Licensor | MACIEJ_HYPS
10:03 PM EDT, March 26, 2024
On March 10, the Italian frigate Luigi Rizzo (F595), a FREMM class ship, docked at the port of Gdynia. As part of efforts to strengthen NATO's eastern defense, the vessel is participating in the "Brilliant Shield" operation in the Baltic Sea. This initiative aims to safeguard shipping lanes and enhance the alliance's air defense capabilities in the area. Having operated in the Baltic since January, the vessel plans to continue its mission for several more months, periodically stopping at ports for crew rest and resupply. This latest visit coincides with the twenty-fifth anniversary of Poland's NATO membership, marked by opening the ship for public tours.
The FREMM frigates (FRegata Europea Multi-Missione) are the outcome of a joint venture between France and Italy. Naval Group spearheads the project on the French side, while the Italian contribution comes from Orizzonte Sistemi Navali, a partnership between Fincantieri and Leonardo. The development of these multifaceted ships began in 2005, targeting to replace multiple ship types in both the French and Italian navies. Initially designed to offer various configurations on a singular hull—anti-submarine warfare, general-purpose, and land attack— the land attack variant was eventually dropped from the plans.
Initially, the Italian Navy sought four anti-submarine warfare ships and six general-purpose vessels. However, in 2013, it added two more general-purpose frigates to its order. By 2020, two under-construction universal units were sold to Egypt, subsequently replaced by two modified ships blending anti-submarine and general-purpose features for Italy. Recently in 2023, Italy announced intentions to commission two additional frigates in a novel FREMM-EVO configuration, featuring modified sensors and armaments.
The frigate is equipped with a helipad and two hangars.
The frigate is equipped with a helipad and two hangars.© Licensor | MACIEJ_HYPS
The Luigi Rizzo, built in the general-purpose variant, measures 472 feet in length, with a beam of 66 feet and a draught of 28 feet. Displacing 7,400 tons, it achieves a top speed of 30 knots and a range of 6900 nautical miles at 15 knots, powered by a single GE/Fiat-Avio LM2500+G4 turbine of 58,000 horsepower driving two propellers. Its crew comprises 131 officers and sailors, including helicopter personnel and support staff, amounting to either 14 or 23 soldiers depending on the number of helicopters onboard.
NH90 anti-submarine warfare helicopter
NH90 anti-submarine warfare helicopter© Licensor | MACIEJ_HYPS
The ship's armory features 16 vertical launch system (VLS) cells of Sylver A50 for Aster-15 and Aster-30 anti-air missiles, a universal Oto Melara 127/64LW gun with 5-inch caliber for Vulcano rounds, and a Oto Melara 76/62SR Super Rapid gun with 3-inch caliber for firing STRALES and DART rounds. Additionally, it carries two remote-controlled KBA 25/80 stations with 1-inch caliber guns, two quad anti-ship missile launchers Teseo Mk.2, two triple torpedo launchers for 12.75-inch MU90 Impact torpedoes, and two chaff launchers SCLAR-H.
Equipped for two NH90-size helicopters or a combination of one NH90 and one AW101, the frigate includes hidden inspection boats and reserved space for an extra set of 16 VLS cells. However, Italy currently opts not to utilize the latter feature.
Key sensors include the Selex EMPAR SPY-790 MFRA multifunction radar for comprehensive target tracking and weapon guidance, capable of observing up to 300 targets. Another essential detection system is the Selex RAN-30X radar, aiding in navigation, helicopter guidance, and missile detection.
Inspection boat in the hangar
Inspection boat in the hangar© Licensor | MACIEJ_HYPS
Completing its detection capabilities are two Selex NA-25X fire control stations, the thermal imager SASS, and a suite for electronic intelligence and warfare, ensuring robust surveillance, target acquisition, and electronic defense capacities.
View of the forecastle deck. Visible is the Oto Melara 127/64LW cannon and the covers of 16 anti-aircraft missile launchers.
View of the forecastle deck. Visible is the Oto Melara 127/64LW cannon and the covers of 16 anti-aircraft missile launchers.© Licensor | MACIEJ_HYPS
Guarding the Polish Coast
The Luigi Rizzo's mission in Gdynia underscores the "Brilliant Shield" operation's goal to protect vital shipping routes and boost air defense along the Polish coast, a crucial area for both Poland and NATO. The FREMM frigates' advanced anti-aircraft artillery, including 16 VLS cells for Aster missiles, plays a pivotal role in defending the airspace in this strategic region.
The frigate's bridge with a steering wheel in the form of a flywheel.
The frigate's bridge with a steering wheel in the form of a flywheel.© Licensor | MACIEJ_HYPS
The Aster missiles, essential for the ship and broader area defense, utilize sophisticated guidance systems to ensure high-accuracy targeting. The Luigi Rizzo, alongside other Italian vessels operating in the Baltic, significantly contributes to a layered defense akin to Poland's future Miecznik-class frigates' role in the national air defense architecture.
Frigate from the stern. Under the cover, there is a boom with an inspection boat hidden.
Frigate from the stern. Under the cover, there is a boom with an inspection boat hidden.© Licensor | MACIEJ_HYPS
Related content