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C552 Conte di Cavour
New Major Unit
Nuove UnitÓ Maggiore (NUM)

The future flagship of the Italian Navy, CAVOUR, was initially conceived as a LHD, then the design was changed to a pure 27,500 tons STOVL carrier - though fitted with accommodations for 325 marines. The Cavour is the most important Italian shipbuilding program since the Second World War. The Nuova UnitÓ Maggiore (NUM - New Major Unit) ship-aerodrome will become the second operational unit of this type in the Italian Navy. The first one was the much smaller Giuseppe Garibaldi (C551), commissioned in 1985.

The official assignment of these ships is Incrociatore Portaeromobili (door-aircraft carrier cruiser), and both are destined to operate it with aircraft STOVL (Short Takeoff/Vertical Landing), of short take-off (with the aid of a slope Ski Jump in the nose) and vertical landing. Initially it was projected that the Nuove UnitÓ Maggiore would be named after Luigi Einaudi, and then Andrea Doria, and finally Conte di Cavour (C552). The experience with the operation of helicopter carrying warships that first led the Italian Navy to include a small ship that initially operated only with helicopters in the program of the Legge Navale (Naval Law) of 1974-85.

C552 Conte di Cavour Construction

The contract for construction of the new Italian NAe was signed between the Direzione Generale to per gli Armamenti Navali (NAVARM) and the state-owned company Fincantieri, on 22 of November 2000. The value of the contract was approximately 1,750 billion liras, of which 140 billion destines it the integrated logistic support. The new carrier was laid down in June 2001. The assembly and construction of the hull, in the installations of the shipyard in Muggiano (vante section) and Riva Trigoso (sections central and of reverse speed), next Genoa, began in July 2001.

On the base of the comprehensive plan developed in the Navy General Staff, in November 2000 was stipulated with the Industry the first relative contract for the comprehensive platform of minimal combat systems; subsequently, according to contract, stipulated in July 2002, it has comprised the residual supply of combat systems. In November 2003 it has been finally stipulated a third party contracted relative to the completion and integration of combat systems. The construction continued regularly according to the established program.

The building of the "CAVOUR", the largest for its size and for its planning requirements represents the most significant expression of the productive integration between the two shipyards of the Naval Vessel Business Unit. The building of the prow section and the superstructure of the "CAVOUR", the new aircraft carrier of the Italian Navy took place in Cantiere di MUGGIANO while the stern section was constructed in Cantiere di RIVA TRIGOSO. In 2004, the two prow sections were linked together in the Muggiano floating basin, and the superstructures were added. This vessel was the most complex, but also the most prestigious undertaking of the shipyard, consisting in the completion of the outfitting and in the stages of activation and testing of the Platform plant and Combat System up to its handover.

Italy launched the first and only unit of the Conte di Cavour-class aircraft carrier 20 July 2004 from Fincantieri's Riva Trigoso shipyard. When launched, it lacked part of the prow, that would be welded to the rest of the hull in the yard of the Muggiano, to La Spezia. In order to cover this lacking part the coat of arms of Navy was placed tricolour of 700 meters squared with to the center one. Formerly known as Andrea Doria, the new carrier was expected to begin sea trials in 2006 with commissioning scheduled for November 2007. The tests in sea were forecast beginning from December 2006, the delivery of the platform to aimed at 2007 and the forecast completion of the combat system installation was March 2008.

Destined to replace the missile launcher cruiser Vittorio Veneto (C550), the NUM was originally scheduled to enter service in 2007. But as of 2007 it was clear that C552 Conte di Cavour will enter in service not before 2008, when "Garibaldi" would have already 23 years old and waiting for retirement. Some analysts say the new aircraft carrier, which would have accompanied the Garibaldi, will be destined to replace and not to flank the Garibaldi.






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