Italian shipyard Fincantieri has delivered the Algerian Navy’s flagship amphibious warfare vessel Kalaat Beni-Abbes at its Muggiano Shipyard.
The delivery ceremony took place on 4 September and was attended by dignitaries that included General Malaoui, Head of the Supervisory Board of the Algerian Navy, General M L Haouli, President of the Acceptance Commission of the Algerian Navy, Alessandro Concialini, CEO of Orizzonte Sistemi Navali, Angelo Fusco, Executive Senior Vice President Italy of Fincantieri Naval Shipbuilding Division, and Ferdinando Tognini, the Riva Trigoso-Muggiano yard manager.
The Kalaat Beni-Abbes was ordered in July 2011 by the Ministry of Defence of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria from Orizzonte Sistemi Navali, a company controlled by Fincantieri in which Selex ES also holds an interest. The vessel was ordered at a cost of more than 400 million euros.
The 9 000 tonne vessel belongs to the BDSL class (Bâtiment de Débarquement et de Soutien Logistique – landing and logistic support ship), and developed from the Italian San Giusto amphibious class vessel. Fincantieri said its most important feature is an internal floodable dock, capable of accommodating a ready-to-go 20-metre landing craft; two landing craft of the same size can travel attached to the ship’s deck, and can be deployed using a system of davits. If necessary, the dock can be emptied to accommodate other types of vehicles.
The vessel can accommodate 15 main battle tanks or 30 light tanks or armoured personnel carriers. Five medium helicopters can be carried in a hangar. Armament includes Aster 15 missiles, a single OTO Melara 76 mm gun at the bow and two 25 mm cannons. Electronics include Selex Sistemi Integrati EMPAR radar, SCLAR-H chaff/flare decoy launchers and Athena-C combat management system.
The Kalaat Beni-Abbes is 143 metres long with a 21.5 metre beam and has a full load displacement of about 8,800 tons. With two diesel engines, it can reach speeds of over 20 knots, and carry more than 430 soldiers, 12 flight service specialists and 152 crew, for a total of about 600 people.
It has a full-length flight deck, with two helicopter landing spots, fore and aft. It is also equipped with a 60-bed hospital and several operating theatres, to provide medical support to both troops and civilians during humanitarian operations.
The contract with Algeria also includes the provision of logistical support during crew training. Training of Algerian personnel by the Italian Navy has taken place since 2013 using the facilities of the Fincantieri Training Academy, a project initiated by Fincantieri in conjunction with the Italian Navy with the aim of training the crew of ships in the process of delivery.
Fincantieri Training Academy, which is already serving the United Arab Emirates Navy, is a positive example of cooperation between the armed forces and industry through which Italy’s naval excellence is made available to Navies around the world, Fincantieri said.
The order has required Fincantieri not only to build the main vessel, but also to oversee the design and to manage and coordinate the local construction of three smaller Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel (LCVP) vessels, built at the Mers El Kebir naval shipyards in Algeria. These support vessels, known as chaland, are able to carry 140 men or a heavy tank, with a maximum weight of 30 tons, and are an integral part of the equipment of the Kalaat Beni-Abbes.
At the flagship’s launch in January this year, the Italian Navy said the vessel would be delivered in November, with full operational capability expected in early 2015.