A five month long voyage by an Italian Navy (Marina Militare) task group came to an end this week in the port of Civitavecchia.
The 30th naval group, led by the aircraft carrier Cavour (CVH550), left Italian shores in November on the voyage making stops in 20 countries, including South Africa, to fly the flag for the European nation on the military, diplomatic and humanitarian fronts.
Naval aspects included maritime security, anti-piracy, co-operation and support activities in countries where the group ported. Training and co-operation with the Mozambican Navy in that country’s capital of Maputo was the direct result of a technical collaboration agreement signed between the two countries.
The two month long joint Italian/Mozambican naval co-operation saw training at sea and on land with specific emphasis on anti-piracy taskings and patrolling in Mozambican territorial waters. Protection of commercial shipping, preventing trafficking in arms, drugs and people as well as search and rescue operations at sea were also on the training agenda.
Other vessels in the group, under the command of Rear Admiral Paolo Treu, were the frigate Bergamini (F590), patrol ship Borsini (P491) and supply ship Etna (A5326).
Named “A country on the move” the naval group was a joint Italian Navy and industry campaign involving, apart from pure naval operations, humanitarian work and the promotion of Italian industry.
Speaking at the group’s return home Italian Navy chief of Staff, Admiral Guiseppe De Giorgi, said the initiative “epitomised a country’s will to restart. A nation that does not want to be seen as a beggar holding out his hat and quaking before hardship.
“It has been a symbol of a people proud of their traditions, their background, aware of their potential and proud of being Italian.”
Speaking in Cape Town when the group ported at Table Bay harbour early in February Treu said the overall mission was “a complex one”.
“We are trying to do many different things. Put together different capabilities. We need to train at sea. We are here for co-operation with other navies to build competence. We are trying to provide our experience in the field of maritime security to other navies. We are here for diplomatic support and we are also here to promote Italian industry.”
The industry promotion saw a large portion of the Cavour’s hangar deck transformed into an exhibition area. Exhibitors, who sponsored the voyage, set up exhibition stands displaying products ranging from furniture through to products and services from the Mediterranean country’s defence industry.