The 1991 commissioned offshore patrol vessel of the Italian Navy (Marina Militare Italiana) ITS SPICA P 403 paid a diplomatic visit to Malta during February 2020 with Commanding Officer LT (N) Peppino Sambiagio.
She entered Valletta on Friday 14th February, 2020 at 0726 hrs assisted by 2 tugs LIENI and ST. ANGELO and berthed Port Side alongside Pinto 4 Wharf at Valletta Cruise Port. She’s the third OPV in her class – Cassiopeia. She was built by Fincantieri as Hull no 5848, laid down on the 5th September 1988, launched on the 27th May 1981 and commissioned 23rd March 1981.
This is her second call at Valletta since she called back in July 1994, berthing at the same berth with a special delivery to the Maltese Government from the Italian Government – The return of the restored painting of St Jerome writing, by Michelangelo Merisi de Caravaggio, that was stolen in December 1984 of which two years later, on 24th November 1986, the thieves were demanding LM250,000 (€582,342) as ransom from the government. The robbers threatened that if the sum was not paid, the painting would be torched and Fr Marius Zerafa who was the director of the Arts Museum would pay dearly.
Her armament includes the Oto Melara 76/62mm and KBA 25/80mm guns and her motto is VIGILE ATTENDO.
She can carry a helicopter and for this deployment she has 1 x Agusta AB212 ASW MM81378/7-68 with construction no 5214 of which back during the Libyan Uprising in 2011 she was active.
Apart from her personnel launches MBN 1151 and NB 79 –
She was also carrying 2 ribs DCNr24 and IDP 1257 –
Morning of Saturday 15th February exchange of gifts was done by the author Capt Lawrence Dalli and Commanding Officer LT(N) Peppino Sambiagio where various issues were discussed followed by a ship tour.
She left Valletta on Sunday 16th February, 2020 at 1139 hrs.
Photos by Capt. Lawrence Dalli. Do not use these images without my permission. © All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos – www.maltashipphotos.com
Published – Saturday 22nd February 2020