cold war Italian Navy Archives - naval encyclopedia

Aircraft Carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi (1983)

Giuseppe Garibaldi, 1st Italian STOVL carrier

Built 1981-85 currently in service

Italy Unification Day !
Giuseppe Garibaldi is one of the two current Italian aircraft carriers, and the first “through-deck” aviation ship ever built for the Italian Navy, first to operate fixed-wing aircraft (Aquila was never completed and Miraglia only operated floatplanes). She is equipped with short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) which limited the aircraft types she could carry, but also carried all sorts of helicopters usable for assault missions. Giuseppe Garibaldi saw combat air operations off Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Libya.

Genesis of the Design

Initial Fincantiery project in 1978 More
The program for such new ship originated into the need in 1970 already to plan the replacement of the two Doria class Helicopter cruisers (1962) of which Duilio was intended to act as training ship for Livorno Academy cadets, replacing San Giorgio.
Construction was planned in the Naval Law of 1975, and the previous yer, the Navy had submitted to the Italian industry a project prposal for the construction of an all-deck naval unit. The initial project included a flat flight deck typical of helicopter carrier. Italcantieri won the contest over a project from Breda. After another year of working out the design, the Marina Militare naval staff eventually ordered it on 21 November 1977. The contract with Italcantieri stipulated to start work on 20 February 1978.
The choice conformed in 1979 its through-deck appearance, instead of a hybrid cruiser as Veneto and the Dorias, enabling more spots for anti-submarine warfare.

1978 Fincantieri project

It was believed a continuous deck would enable a larger group of anti-submarine helicopters indeed. Nothing was precised about STOVL aicraft at this stage, due to an ancient naval law (see later). In addition of these fonctions and those of a cruiser, she had to combine command and control capabilities, in order to lead a an offshore operational group and coordinate a task force, placing its resources at the fleet disposal and of external ships (for a NATO oriented closer cooperation).

Indeed, the first Italian aircraft carrier was originally limited in its capabilities by a law dating from 1923, preventing the Italian Navy from operating combat aircraft from ships. When this law was changed in 1992, sixteen AV-8B+ were purchased. The design envisaged VSTOL aircraft operations, since it ultimately included a ski-jump ramp forward.


Launch in 1984

The construction of the unit took place in the Monfalcone factories. The cutting of the first sheet took place on 28 April 1980 and on 9 September of the same year construction of the first block began. On 26 March 1981 the first block was completed at Monfalcone shipyard. During construction of the deck it was decided to adopt a ski-jump not envisaged in the planning phase as planning the future adoption of aircraft.
On January 31, 1983, the assembly of the last block on the slipway was completed. By April 19, construction of the superstructure was complete. At last she was launched on 4 June 1983. The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Amintore Fanfani, defense Minister Lelio Lagorio, who gave the inaugural speech. She was christened by Mrs. Flavia Donata Solvetti Garibaldi, wife of the last descendant of the namesake hero of the unification.

In drydock completion at Montfalcone

The ship started her initial sea trials on 3 December 1984 and she was eventually was delivered on 30 September 1985, the largest Italian warship so far in the Marina Militare, but she paled in comparison of Regia Marina designs, the Caraccoiolo and Litorrio class battleships or even the unfinished aicraft carrier Aquila (211 m long and 30,000 tonnes). She also was smallest aircraft carrier in the world at the time, considering she was completed as such. She would be dethroned by the Thai Chakri Naruebet in the 1990s.
Garibaldi received her symbolic battle flag in Naples, on October 3, 1987, delivered by the president of the National Sailors Association of Italy and by the presidency of the Italian Naval League. The flag was carried by the cruiser of the same name, WW2 Condotierri class veteran and entirely rebuilt as a missile cruiser.

Design of the class

Cutaway of the ship, from pinterest
Giuseppe Garibaldi was designed for anti-ship, anti-aircraft and anti-submarine warfare. But also perform command and control functions with a large combined force.
Thus, it had a sizeable crew and needed good accomodations to go with it. So between the core crew, needed for basic working of the ship (600), was added their air group crew, both pilots and ground personal (230), and above this, the command personnel close to 100+, and on top of it all in some conditions up to 600 troops.

The island is grouped around the single funnel, venting exhaust gases from the two propulsion units with diesel generators and auxiliary boilers (see later). This island was positioned on the starboard side, 60 meters long. It housed the command bridge, operating rooms. There two masts supporting most of the numerous electronic equipment, radars and sensors. Initially, a second continuous bridge was envisioned below the flight deck but stability rapidly imposed a more classic approach.

The design issue observed was that due to the limited width of the deck and placement of axial hangars instead of side ones, the elevators blocked communications between the two sides of the hangar during air operations, at least of aicraft recovery. Helicopter could be operated at all times from their spots, and VTOLs launched when still.

To operate at all times, Garibaldi is equipped with air conditioning. It also helps with the NBC protection for colective protection: All doors had seams and could be shut hermetically, and a constant flow of air and slight overpressure was unsured by 6 centrifugal electrocompressors, placed in pairs on three air conditioning stations. They were provided by Termomeccanica an together procured 3,000,000 Refigreration/h in summer, whereas the two heat exchangers procured 700,000 Cal/h in winter.
Hot and cold fresh water production units were distributed in 6 water tanks, four at the bow and two at the stern. They initially comprised two SCAM ScamFlash evaporators each capable of producing 120 tons daily. In 2002/2004 they were replaced by four ROCHEM-MARINE reverse osmosis desalination plants, also in pairs in the engine rooms. Hot water came from the mixed electric-steam boilers fed by 105°C steam fed by the four Bono auxiliary boilers 2 by 2 in the engine rooms, and electric heaters alternative or simultaneousl depending on onboard requests and crew size.

Hull and general design

The hull was divided into 13 watertight compartments by vertical bulkheads. Longitudinally she was given six decks and during the design phase, particular attention was paid to the hull’s external shape. A model was subjected to numerous tests at the INSEAN (National Institute for naval architecture studies and experiences) in Rome. At the request of Italcantieri, a basin was specially prepared for largeer model tests in rough sea conditions. It was also proceeded to a serie of cavitation tests on an aft shape hull section, as large as possible to be realistic. Maneuverability tests also took place on another 8.57 metre model on Lake Nemi (the famous lake on which Caligula’s floating palace once stood).

The hull as built was equipped with normal anti-roll fins and when speed exceeded 18 knots, two pairs of retractable fins went out so further stabilize her roll, powered by electro-hydraulic control. They allowed a roll reduction from 30° to just 3°, quite an achievement for a deck carrier, enabling air operation even in foul weather. There was also a system in place for a rebalancing of loads, wirh an internal sismic-type gyroscopic system that following movements by helicopters or planes. There was also transversal balancing system using two active compensation tanks located in the main area. The were filled and emptied using water expulsion using two electric pumps. The system was automatic also and contributed to counteract the roll and weight moving deck weights above. In the 1980s this was groundbreaking.


Garibaldi in sea trials, 1985
The propulsion scheme chosen was the new COGAG type arrangement: It comprised three sets of units working together. The powerplant area was divided into two groups separated by two other watertight compartments to survive flooding survival of at least one unit, and ship full controllability even with three adjacent compartments flooded. It comprised four General Electric/Avio LM2500 gas turbines, 60,400 kW (81,000 hp) in two twin unit rooms, and six diesel engine generators Grandi Motori Trieste B230/12, 9,360 kW (12,550 hp), coupled with electric generator Ansaldo-Elettrital, 1,560 kW (2,090 hp) each. This procured 30 knots and Range at 20 knots was approximatively 7,000 miles (13,000 km) depending on the sea conditions and use.

-Four LM 2500 gas turbines (From Avio under license from General Electric) which were rated for 25,000 HP and usually capped to 20,000 HP in order to prolongate their operational life,for a total in operation of 82,000 hp (60 MW) (4x 20,500), driving the two shafts, ending with fixed five-blade propellers.
The left transmission comprised two gas turbines placed closest to the bow, direct line, with the left propeller turning in the same direction as the turbines. The left transmission line placed starboard comprised two gas turbines closeer to the stern and reversed (the prop rotates inverse to the turbines, with a rotating arrangement of 180° of the engine for the coupling.

-Two Vulcan/Tosi reducers/reversers. There was a tranmission allowed in forward gear to turn thes inwards at a top speed of 30 knots and managed reverse of slow rotation at the lowest output available in case some systems fails. The transmission allowed using a single shaft line, driven by one or two gas turbines if needed.

-Six B230/12 diesel engine generators: They were manufactured by Grandi Motori Trieste and rated total for 9,360 kW (12,550 hp). They are coupled with electric generator Ansaldo-Elettrital developing 1,560 kW (2,090 hp) each (see later).

-A main funnel: Air was drawn to feed the turbines and boilers from stainless steel ducts independent of each machinery space and present on both sides between the 1st corridor and the flight deck. They had a smoke reducer, altair dehumidifier filters, silencers, anti-icing. Smoke and associated residues are exhausted in the island’s funnel through pipes, with gas temperature reducer and outer cooling filters to reduce her infrared signature.

The SEPA Console
The whole powerplant is controlled from a centralized S.E.P.A. 7614 with all command and control consoles. This POC (Platform Operations Centre) relays orders from the bridge and monitors all critical systems of the power units as well as C.A.M. auxiliary for the degraded pipeline of the gas turbines located in the bow and stern.

Onboard Electric Power

Electricity needed to power all aboard systems, from the radar to the bridge, also comprises a part in the main propulsion system: The six generators (two usable in emergency) are comprose of fast diesel engines from Grandi Motori, supercharged, charging in turn three-phase synchronous alternators (from Ansaldo-Elettrital) rated for 440 V-1560 kW. They could function independently or with the four power plants and managed from the SEPA console and SACIE integrated system.
Two of these power units are located in the forward engine rooms and two in the stern rooms. The diesels are enclosed separately, in soundproofed anti-acoustic modules and had their own internal fire-fighting systems. The two emergency groups are placed in outside rooms forward and aft ensuring even with full flooding some remaining power for essential systems (like pumps). For this, they are placed on the safety bridge, with discharges port of the flight deck. The are used to power deck operation systems like aircraft engine starters.


Designed a bit as a cruiser, the Garibaldi was given a substantial self-defence capabily in case her escort would be compromise or when operating alone. Proportionally she is better armed than standard USN aicraft carrier for example, which relied more on their task force and own air group.

2×8 Selenia SAM

For medium-range air defence, the ship is equipped with two eight-cell Selenia “Albatros” hand-held missile launchers, located on the forward and aft deckhouses of the island and equipped with an exhaust gas dispersion barrier to protect the flight deck, each of which it has eight missiles ready to launch and sixteen in reserve for a total of forty-eight Aspide missiles.


Originally an anti-ship guided missile system based on four OTOMAT missile launchers was also installed, positioned laterally at the extreme stern, with the possibility of using a total of eight containers superimposed in pairs for the Mk-2 version with folding wings, landed in 2003 to allow an enlargement of the flight deck.

Breda OTOMAT 40mm/70

For the close anti-aircraft defense there are three twin turrets equipped with Breda 40mm/70 light cannons integrated into the Dardo point defense system; the three turrets, with a rate of fire of 300 rounds/minute (and a range of 4km against missiles and aerial targets and 12km against surface targets) are positioned so as to guarantee a 360° optical view, with two turrets positioned on the lateral sides and one at the extreme stern.

ASW Protection

For anti-submarine defence, the ship has two triple torpedo launchers of the 324mm ILAS-3 type, similar to the American MK 32 type, armed with Mk 46 and A-244 light torpedoes[14]. The same light torpedoes also equip the onboard ASW helicopters.


The console of the Selenia IPN 20 system

The vital center aboard was the COC (Combat Operations Center) scaning and managing all ship activities both in exercises or real crisis. It was located behind the Command Bridge and hosted the Selenia IPN 20 system collecting data from all sensors and communication arrays as part of SADOC-3 (System Automated for the Directorate of Combat Operations) receiving and processing and providing redigested information in real time, for better situation awareness, and from analogical to digital means. It was tasked of activating defensive systems according to threat level encountered and guiding combined responses.
The room comprised ten single operator vertical consoles displaying the integrated data processing system Selenia IPN-20 tracking and following a single selected activity for each, while the center two multiple consoles followed all the activities diplaying the overall tactical situation. There was also a large horizontal display console to have the most important data on sight at all time.
The Automated System for the Management of Combat Operations was pioneered on the Audace class destroyers, as part of SADOC 1 but with command-only capability, and had been expanded to Command and Control (C2), Communications (C3) and C4I (+Computer and Information tasks) with transmission by the Elmer communications system (Link 11 HF and UHF Link 14) and Link 16 from 2003.

Main Warning & Detection Radars

Hughes AN/SPS-52C: A long range air search 3D E-band radar with 400 km range working with the following:
Selenia MM/SPS-768 (RAN-3L): 3D long-range air detection radar, D band, 200 km range, fitted with IFF Mk. XII.
Selenia SPS-774 (RAN-10S): 2D radar with 150 km range, for medium range/low altitude air search fitted with IFF Mk. XIII.

FCS Radars

S.M.A. MM/SPS-702: Surface search only, 2D, band I radar installed on a bracket of the bow mast also tasked to spot low-flying air targets (like sea-skimming missiles) fitted with the MM/UPC-718 with IFF transponder MM/UPC-719 and G/H band antenna for remote control of the Teseo missiles.
Radar MM/SPS-702 CORA New antenna installed in the 1990s enclosed in a smaller radome, one the starboard vertex.
Three SPG-75 Albatross/Aspide system firing directions coupled with Selenia RTN-30X Orion radar and Elsag NA-30B Argo control unit (top of the helm station and aft of the funnel). Three SPG-74: FCS of the three Dardo CIWS, coupled with with Selenia RTN-20X radar and Elsag NA-20 control unit, close to the mounts.


Low-frequency sonar Raytheon DE 1160LF mounted on the hull. Replaced by an Italian DMSS-2000 unit after the overhaul of 2003.


GEM Elettronica MM/SPN-749 navigation radar: operates in band I with a peak power of 20 kW, with two separate antennas, master and slave on the bridge.
SMA MM/SPS-703 navigation radar: Planned to be placed on a shelf positioned on the bow mast below the MM/SPS-702 radar, planned but not installed.
MM/SPN-749 system: GEM Elettronica using two antennas positioned in the forward/aft areas of the island.
Tacan URN-25: Usef for aviation take-off and landing, and with radio IFR flight procedures.

Electronic Warfare

For electronic warfare operations, the unit is equipped with the integrated ESM/ECM Elettronica MM/SLQ-32 Nettuno system, whose elements operate both in ECM (Electronic Counter Measures) function active for disturb and deceive enemy radars and enemy missile guidance systems, both in passive ESM (Electronic Support Measures) function, for the localization and analysis of emissions from electronic equipment deemed not friendly.

AN/SLQ-25 Nixie system: Electronic anti-torpedo protection system, NATO stan,dard. It is given a source of anti-torpedo decoys emitting fake propeller/engine noises deceive and deflecting incoming torpedoes. Replaced by the AN/SLQ-25B with better sensors locating incoming torpedoes.
Breda SCLAR launchers: Located on the aft part of the island are two twenty launcher 105mm flares/chaff for missile jamming. After 2003 they were repositioned.

Air Facilities

She had a through deck with an island with a total superficy of 5,000m² (), and below a 1,650m² () hangar for a total parking space of 9,900m³ (). The Flight deck measured 173.8 meters long by 30.4 meters wide (). The Hangar measured 110 meters long by 15 wide and 6 meters tall, served by two elevators of a semi-rounded shape, each measuring 18 m long for 10 m wide () and 15 tonnes ( Ibs.). There was no catapult but a 6.5°-inclined, 28.5 meters long () ski-jump.

The Deck configuration of the aircraft carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi comprised an offset setting from the longitudinal axis. The in-construction addition of a ski-jump inclined at 6° had a total superficy of 174 meters for 30 meters, with the excluzion area formed by the large island. The deck was surrounded by a side walkway for safe personnel movement, the arrangement of ancillary equipment: Refueling points, power sockets, fire-fighting services. This walkway was placed one meter below the flight deck. To compensate for the slight increase in height with the bow, further improvement of the ship stability in rough sea conditions was done (as seen above for the hull design).

The hangar below the flight deck was divided into three sections for fire fighting with rapid-closing fire proof curtains, and two rigid fire walls. Sprinklers and smoke detection systems were also installed under the roof. The decks elevators could carry 18 tons, and hed been provided by Navalimpianti. They were placed respectively forward and aft of the island superstructure and practically aligned with it.
There were deck sprinklers, enabling to clean the deck from combustion residues, but also to rapidly extinguish any fires. Markings comprised a straight track in white (the deck was dark grey), running straight from aft to bow, parallel to the island, and divided into six areas and four internal guiding lines for the jets. However there was a further marking, double lines colored in black off-set for VTOL landings. It was not usable when the six spots were used though. The latter was also placed to the port side, three parallel and two more inwards the deck, the last being placed at the end of the forward deck section.

Air Group

The first fixed-wing aircrafts of the Italian Navy

Due to the legislation from 1923 banning fixed-wing military aircraft from the Navy, the Giuseppe Garibaldi had to wait for the law being changed in 1989. It was expected sooner, and during construction a ski-jump was added. The Law 36 of 1 February 1989 authorized this and given the size of the ship, any CATOBAR configuration with catapults was out of questions. The choice fell early on to British Sea Harrier and its more modern equivalent AV-8 Harrier II.

The latter was chosen due to its most sophisticated multi-mode radar, equal to the one carried by the F/A 18 Hornet. In 1990 the order of two AV-8B+ was confirmed and soon pilots and technicians were sent for training in the US. On June 7, 1991 official delivery took place at the Marine base of Cherry Point in North Carolina. They were received aboard Garibaldi on August 23 aboard the Garibaldi as she was moored off Norfolk, Virginia.
Garibaldi only embarked them operationally at the end of 1991 for international exercises with flight deck operations going on through NATO Dragon Hammer 90.. Italy was part of the coalition deployed against Iraq in the first gulf war and these came right on point. The park comprised both Sea Harrier in the single and dual seat versions (the latter being called TAV-8B). It is assumed they carried ten single-seat and two dual seat versions.
(to come)
HD Author’s illustration of an Italian AV8B Harrier

Helicopter Group

(to come)
HD Author’s illustration of a Sea King SH3D of Garibaldi

HD Author’s old illustration of a Sea King SH3D

Old Author’s illustration of the AB-212

Old Author’s illustration of an Italian AW-101
Her final air component was to be alternatively composed of up to a maximum of 12 STOVL AV aircraft of the 8B Harrier II and 6 helicopters for a total of 18 aircraft total, 12 parked in her Hangar and 6 on the flight deck, although she had a total capacity of 36 when taxing them. She also could only take aboard 18 Agusta SH-3D helicopters.
However it varied in time:

In 1990 she carried typically 16 SH-3D Sea King. In 1991 she received her first two AV8s and more followed in 1992-93. In 2005 she had a permanent park of six AV-8B Harrier and four SH-3D Sea King. In 2012 this went up to ten AV-8B Harrier (she only had a nominal capacity of 12) and a single SH-3D Sea King and the latter in 2017 was replaced by an AW101 AEW Merlin. But in 2017 she retained an all-helicopter park of eighteen AW101 Merlin, AW101 AEW Merlin and NH90 NFH models.

Conway’s profile

⚙ specifications

Displacement 10,100 t standard, 13,850 t FL and 14,150 t after 2003 MLU
Dimensions 180.2 x 33.4 x 8.2 m (591 x 110 x 27 ft)
Propulsion 4× GE/Avio LM2500 GTs 60,400 kW (81,000 hp), 6× diesel Gen. 9,360 kW (12,550 hp), electric Gen. 1,560 kW (2,090 hp)
Speed 30 kn (56 km/h; 35 mph)+
Range 7,000 nmi (13,000 km; 8,100 mi) at 20 kn (37 km/h; 23 mph)
Armament 2×8 Mk.29 Sea Sparrow/ Aspide SAM, 3×2 40L70 DARDO 2× 324 mm TTs, 4× Otomat Mk 2 SSMs
Air Group 12 AV-8B Harrier II/ASH-3D/AW101 helicopters
Sensors MM/SPS-768, SPS-774, AN/SPS-52C, SPS-702, SPN-749 nav, SPN-728, 3x RTN-30X & RTN-20X FCR, DE 1160 LF sonar, CMS SADOC-3 TACAN URN-25, SLQ-732, 2x SCLAR, AN/SLQ-25 Nixie
Crew 830: 550 Crew, 180 Fleet Air Arm, 100 C4 staff

Reception and Modifications

The hangar was designed to accommodate either twelve SH-3D Sea King helicopters or ten AV-8B and one Sea King. Garibaldi was ordered on 20 February 1978, starting sea trials on 3 December 1984 and in about c1990 the original four Otomat SSMs was replaced by eight Otomat 2 SSMS (folding wing type). Only four missiles are usually carried, however. She is equipped as a fleet flagship and also serves as an ‘interpreter’ between the on-shore Italian air defence system and deployed ships (their electronic data links are not compatible with the land-based system). Like the British Invincible class she can carry troops (up to 600).
So in the late 1980s her four single Otomat Mk 1 SSM were replaced by four twin Teseo Mk 2 SSM (8 Otomat Mk 2) and in 2004, the latter were removed as well as the SPN-728(v)1, SPN-749(v)2 radars and DE1160 sonar: Her electronics suite was completely modernized with the installation of a SPS-753 radar, DMS 2000 sonar and SLAT anti-torpedo system.


Italian aircraft carrier Cavour in the Gulf of Oman, 2013, with the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75, 5th fleet) and FS Charles de Gaulle in the background as TF 473.
A second, larger, ship was planned as of 1995, with possible names are Giuseppe Mazzini or Conti di Cavour (which was the name chosen in the end). This programme was confirmed in 2000 after a long gestation and construction started of a far greater ships displacing 30,000 tonnes (29,900 t) fully loaded, launched 20 july 2004 and completed 27 marzo 2008, the costiest and largest Italian warship ever. In capabilities head and shoulders above the Garibaldi albeit with the same basic requirements, she carried up to 36 VTOL aicraft and helicopters between her deck and hangar, with a permanent park of ten STOVL/V/STOL Harrier II AV-8B and/or F-35B and well as 12 EH-101 AEW/ASW, SH-3D, and AB-212 ASW or NFH-90.

Garibaldi in 1988

Garibaldi (C550) Entered service on 30 September 1985, and was assigned to the 2nd Naval Group, 2nd Division in Taranto. She acted as flagship and headquarters, CiC Naval Squadron. Her first arir group of AB212 helicopters was soon partly replaced by EH101s and she soon took part in intense fleet training and representation activities with several goodwill visits in 1985-91. In the summer of 1991 she sailed to the US for the first time and taked part in the ceremony delivery of her first two two-seat TAV-8B, returning to Italy on 24 September 1991, the two Harrier beiong sent to Grottaglie AB. It seems she took no part at this stage to Operations in the first gulf war.

Crisis in Somalia
She next took part in Indian Ocean operations and the crisis in Somalia. In 1994 she was part of Ibis II mission as command ship for 25th Naval Group centered around her, with the supply ship Stromboli, LPDs San Giorgio and San Marco and covered by the Frigate Scirocco. They covered the Italian contingent deployed there for Operation Restore Hope.

Garibaldi and USS America in 1996

By the spring of 1994 Garibaldi sailed back a second time for the United States and to receive tthree AV-8B+ single-seat, also visiting Baltimore, Boston and New York. Back to Italy, from 11 January and 23 March 1995 she was back in Somali waters for Ibis III, covering the withdrawal of US peace contingent, also acting as command ship for the 26th Naval Group, with Scirocco relieved by Libeccio. Three AV-8B Harrier II , two SH-3D, four AB-212 NLA and four A-129 Mangusta (Army attack helicopter) operated together. The ship also hosted 198 paratroopers and cavary units, 320 men of the San Marco battalion and 30 Comsubin commandos.
From March to June 1997, she took part in Operation Alba Neo off Albania with the air group from Grottaglie AB. F
ollowing the reorganization of the Fleet of 1999, she was assigned to COMFORAL (Offshore Forces Command) in Taranto.

Garibaldi moored in Taranto, early life

Kosovo war:
In 1999, she took part in the Kosovo war, Operation Allied Force. Her AV-8B II+ Harrier carried out 30 sorties, 63 flight hours. They used Mk 82 and GBU-16 bombs, AGM-65 Maverick missiles during the operation. The Italian naval force was also covered by the frigate Zeffiro.

Operation Enduring Freedom
Following the attacks of 11 September 2001 Italy a,swered the call for Operation Enduring Freedom. Garibaldi became the command ship of GRUPNAVIT I (1st Italian naval group) which was escorted by Zeffiro, Aviere and refueler Etna. The group left Taranto on 18 November 2001 for the Indian Oceanvia Suez, operating there from 3 December 2001 to the 1 March 2002, and back to Taranto on 18 March 2002. Garibaldi’s AV-8B Harriers performed 288 flights over 860 hours with a mission of control and interception as well as air support and interdiction over Afghanistan.

2003 modernization

In 2003, Guiseppe Garibaldi started modernization brining her C4I capabilities and Teseo launchers removed, one SCLAR rocket launcher repositioned for an extension of her starboard aft flight deck. She had a completely new Maritime Coordination Center and data system large enough for 100 personal, new SATCOM communication system with data Link 11, 14, 16 and Wide Area Network (WAN), new sonar. After recommissioniong, she took part in NATO Exercize Majestic Eaglein the Atlantic by 2004.

Garibaldi underway in the Atlantic Ocean

2000s Operations

In the summer of 2006, she sortied to take part in the Lebanon crisis but participating first to Operation Mimosa ’06 and Operation Leonte with San Giusto and San Marco, San Giorgio, covered by the frigate Aliseo, destroyer Durand de La Penne. They arrived in the port of Beirut now secured by the San Marco Regiment. A large tonnage of relief aid for the population was landed, including field kitchens, ambulances, electric generators, pneumatic tents, medicine & food delivered by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Civil Protection and Italian Red Cross as well as the UN World Food Programme.

Garibaldi off Malaga, 2004

Mimosa 06 operation had Durand de la Penne sailing out for an exercise in Greece, and later enter the port of Beirut to evacuate compatriots and other Europeans to Cyprus in trips. The San Marco battalion landing from San Giusto nad carrying first relief for the population and proceeding to further evacuations. Operation Leonte in September was under a UN resolution as part of UNIFIL 2. Garibaldi, San Giusto, San Giorgio and San Marco under escort of the corvette Fenice, made a demonstration of Italy’s full amphibious forces and capabilities of Projection force when landed in Tire beach. The “San Marco” Marine Brigade and Lagunari regiment took part in it.
Fior this, Garibaldu deployed her air group for reconnaissance missions on merchant traffic off the Lebanese coast, preventing arms smuggling. Giuseppe Garibaldi was joined the brand new commissioned Conte di Cavour, just completed in 2008 and operational since 2009. She was to replace Vittorio Veneto placed in reserve since 2003. Cavour became the new flagship of the Marina Militare and the fleet deployed in Lebanon.

In September 2008, Garibaldi left for Italy, entiring the drydock for a new long maintenance work scheduled and overdue for years. This 2008 overhaul was in fact the first time the fleet had the Cavour, not yet fully operational as sole aicraft carrier of the Marina Militare available, acting as new flagship.

Garibaldi and Charles de Gaulle

Libya: Operation Unified Protector (2011)
Back to service, Garibaldi took part in Operation Unified Protector dealing with the Libyan civil war, and taking active part in the coalition support to the rebels against Ghadaffi. She had by the time eight Harrier available put to good use withing NATO frame, and took the role of command vessel from 25 March to 26 July. Her AV-8B Harrier IIs launched 160 laser-guided missiles/bombs strikes (1221 flight hours total).

2013 Modernization and subsequent Operations

After the navy reorganization of 2013 Garibaldi was assigned to COMGRUPNAVIT together with San Giorgio, San Marco and San Giusto, creating the main Italian assault group whereas Cavour was to act more as a fleet task force center. From 12 September 2014, various commands reaorganized around main bases, made Garibaldi’s group renamed COMGRUPNAV 3, and the ship was tasked to act as command of the naval group and coordinate a national/multinational amphibious force withing NATO procedures.

This 3rd Naval Group consituted the core of the “projection force from the sea”, operating notably the “San Marco” marine brigade Helicopter Assault Department as main air component, meaning Garibaldi’s air group was modified to be more helicopter-centered.
On 13 October 2013 Garibaldi was transferred to the military maritime arsenal of Taranto and was overhauled and modernized again for her service to be extended until 2022.
The work involved almost all of the ship’s systems, mainly concerning the propulsion system, all auxiliary systems, (generators, maintenance systems), plus a full careening, removal of asbestos. The overhaul was to last until 15 March 2015 at an estimated cost of 11 million euros, but was completed ahread of schedule in November 2014 with perfect budget restraint.

Exercize Dragon Hammer, 3 May 1990

She had new gas turbines, new diesel generators, new electrical network, new flight deck, all support systems for flight operations modernized, new air conditioning system, new lits, cranes, deck vehicles, equipment, hull accessories and finally full overhaul of the armaments of main combat system, electronics. Her oil bilge water treatment system was also made conform to internaitonal ecological regulations, and so was the new painting treatment of the hull, ensuring a longer life and with a coating unsuring fuel consumption lowered by 8-13% and to reduce CO2 emissions. In total her paint was on 5,200 m² of her hull and 4,400 m² of flight deck. But it went beyond as 30 tons of external plating as been replaced, 29,348 m³ treated, 4,880 meters of piping replaced.

Garibaldi, Foch and Asturias in Dragon Hammer 1992

By June 2016, recommissioned and after refreshing training, she became flagship of Operation Sophia, EUNAVFOR mission, replacing Cavour which herself underwent her first overhaul. On 22 August 2016, off Ventotene island she hosted an UE summit between Italian PM Matteo Renzi, French Pdt. François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. This laied the groundwork for larger Bratislava meeting, after the Brexit.

040712-N-7748K-0620.Atlantic Ocean (July 12, 2004) –The USS Hary S. Truman (CVN 75) and the Italian aircraft carrier ITS Giuseppe Garibaldi (C 551) steam together through the Atlantic Ocean while participating in Majestic Eagle 2004. Majestic Eagle is a multinational exercise involving multiple allied nations working side by side in a realistic and challenging training environment to prepare for and conduct integrated operations with multiple aircraft carriers and other vessels. Official U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Josh Kinter. Image released by LT. K.R. Stephens, PAO-CVN-65. . . . .

A new career to the horizon ?

In 2021, the General Staff decided not to withdraw Garibaldi despite her incoming retirement date. The expected entry into service of Trieste in 2023 was to mark her official retirement indeed, but it was decided to maintain Garibaldi as platform for the national space strategy, as part of the Joint Force Command for Space Operations, putting her communication systems to good use.

Read More/Src

Official photo, src:


Robert Gardiner Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1947-1995, NIP 1996


Model Kits

Apparently they had been 1/700 scale kits by Tamiya and Fujimi (waterline kits). – More to come.

Vittorio Veneto helicopter cruiser (1967)

Helicopter cruiser Vittorio Veneto (1967)

In service 1969-2003

The last Italian helicopter missile cruiser

Within the frame of NATO’s ASW policy, Italy developed and launched two helicopter cruisers armed with US Terrier missiles in the early 1960s, following the success of the conversion of the Giuseppe Garibaldi: The Andrea Doria class. They were found successful but soon reports came in service about their small size and limited upgrade capabilities. A new, more modular design was seeked out already as they were just delivered to the Marina Militare.

Design development history

Andrea Doria’s stern

The initial design was derived directly from the Andrea Doria class, the first helicopter missile cruisers of the Italian Navy. They had a forward Mk.10 missile ramp and anti-aircraft guns around bridge, plus an aft flight to operate, housed in the associated hangar, two Sikorsky SH-3D Sea King or Agusta-Bell AB 204 heavy helicopters.

But operating only helicopters did not justified the overall cost of the ships, and that force was not efficient enough to justify the whole design. If one helicopter was in maintenance that left only one to operate, the same as any destroyer at the time. Soon the small flight deck and hangar were identified as the main issue to sold with the next design.

The design was therefore revised and expanded, the admiralty being informed that to operate at least six helicopters, a 50% displacement increase was necessary. The Marina Militare wanted to operate indeed six SH-3 Sea King helicopters, or nine light AB-204 ASW helicopters. The new design produced had had the same missile and guns arrangement but a much larger hangar and fligh deck aft, solving the whole cost-effectiveness of the program, but the Vittorio Veneto still cost much more than the first class, and after entering service in 1969, remained unique. Bugdetary constrains just prevented the construction of a siter ship at the time, which was postponed indefinitely after the 1973 crisis.

Launch of Veneto at ItalCantieri, 5 February 1967. Her motto was “Victoria nobis vita”, she had the pennant number C550 and hull number: 639 (790).


Veneto profile 1970 src navypedia

Vittorio Veneto’s overall standard displacement was 7,500 tons standard (still light compared to her side), and 8,850 tons fully loaded. Unlike the Andrea Doria class and their separate funnels, the new cruiser’s larger machinery space authorized more separaration between the turbines and thus, exhausts were split into two separated macks (combination of mast/funnels).

The second major difference was the location of helicopter facilities, with a raised rear deck aft, in order to moved the hangar below the flight deck, rather than the classic frigate/destroyer superstructure hangar arrangement of te previous ships, which made them cramped. To access the main flight deck, two renctangular elevators were managed, in the axis, to transfer wings-folded helicopters.

The much longer hull authorized better balanced and slightly lower superstrctures to be built, and more space for the electronics. The main bridge supported two forward FCS radars, one for each missile. The main Mack was installed aft of the bridge, supporting the main air search radar, with the main electronic mast at the end of the platform. The space in between superstructures housed notably service boats. The aft superstrcture started at the bas of the aft mack, which carried the remaining radars. These were dedicated FCS for the AA guns, one forward and one aft.


The Vittorio Veneto had a much larger machinery space, and she was propelled by two steam turbines, with an output of 73,000 shp (54,000 kW) total, for 30.5 knots (56.5 km/h; 35.1 mph). She received a set of stabilizing fins to improve stability for helicopter operations, like the previous class, a solution that proved useful.


Originally the same armament of the Andrea Doria class was planned: A Terrier SAM forward with dual role depending of the magazine used, for ASROC ASW missiles or SAMs. The magazines were completed by a third drum, for better capacity, making a total of sixty missiles of all types combined.

The Secondary armament comprised eight dual-purpose 76 mm (3 in) guns, all grouped around the superstructure and two triple 324 mm torpedo launchers, with homing Mk.46 ASW torpedoes. This was “light” for a cruiser of that size, and later additions saw this augmented considerably.

The evolution of technology cast serious doubts about the cruiser’s anti-aircraft and anti-ship defense capabilities, and the cruiser was updated and overhauled, modernized twice during her career at the Taranto Arsenal, notably in 1980-1983. At the time, Veneto had a very powerful and diversified armament suitable for many needs of the fleet and making her righfully the head of any squadron.

The flight was modernized also at the time, with the replacement of the AB 204 with the AB 212 ASW helicopter. Sea Kings in fact were seldom used due to the fact they were found too high for the cramped space in the hangar, and the few carried were stored permanently on the deck. This was not a problem in the Mediterranean though, to some extent.


RIM-2 Terrier/ASROC

The same weapon system was installed on the converted Garibaldi. A trusted USN and NATO missile system, here used in the classic twin launcher. It used a blast-fragmentation system. The first wing-controlled and beam-riding missile capable of mach 1.8 Mach over 10 nautical miles it was by the time Veneto was completed, tail-controlled, with a semi-active homing radar, mach 3.0 over 40 nautical miles, 80,000 feet ceiling. Carried in two 20-missile barillets (40 missiles), the third reserved with 20 launcher-compatible ASROC ASW missiles. Replaced after 1985 by the more capable Standard SM-1ER and RUR-5 “ASROC”.
For the detail, a dedicated page in the armament section is in writing.

Otomat Mk.2 SSM (after modernization)

Second generation of the anti-ship missile, placed in two pairs of canister either side of the superstructure amidship. The Teseo Mk.2 SSM (1977) weighted 780 kg (1,720 lb) with booster for 6 m (19.7 ft) long,
400 mm (15.7 in) diameter and carried a 210 kg (463 lb) warhead using Impact and proximity fuse. With its turbojet engine the Mk 2 Block IV was capable of reaching 180 km (97 nmi) at 310 m/s (690 mph; 1,100 km/h; Mach 0.91), using Inertial guidance, GPS and active radar homing.


Eight OTO Melara 76mm/62 (1962)

Eight AA guns was unusual for a modern cruiser, as the Veneto had Oto Melara 76/62mm MMI or 76/62 mm Compact guns, all grouped alongside the superstructure, two forward, two amidship, and two elevated on either side of the aft superstructure. They were an inheritance of the 1950s when trust to SAMs was limited, and to constitute a close quarters AA barrage for the area protection against air threats. Against modern mach-2 low-flying jets they were of limited usefulness but were dual-purpose.
In brief: 12 tonnes (26,000 lb), 62 caliber or 4,724.4 mm (186.00 in), one operator inside the turret,
76×636mmR shell caliber 76.2 mm (3.00 in), automatic loading, Elevation -15°/+85° at 40°/sec., Traverse 360° at 70°/sec, 55/60 rpm, Muzzle velocity 900 m/s (3,000 ft/s) and with the HE round at 45° 16,000 m (17,000 yd) range. Connected to a chain and ammo storage below the barbette. This weapon system was standard in the cold war Marina Militare, and cincluded destroyers, frigates, corvettes and OPVs.

Three OTO Melara 40mm/70 rapido (after modernization)

A more modern and smaller weapon system, two twin turrets installed, either side of the hangar lift aft in the 1980s refit and another forward, centerline on an elevated position with its FCS radar behind. The close-in weapon system (CIWS) Dardo was manufactured by Breda and Oto Melara, composed of two Bofors 40 mm firing HE shells, directed with a fire-control radar RTN-10X and the fire-control system RTN-20X/Dardo. Although much slower than 600/900 round per minute it is reputed able to destroy incoming missiles in flight by shrapnels. Its competitors US, Dutch or Russian are 20-30 mm indeed with barelled guns (Gatling system).


324 mm triple torpedo tubes standard US Pattern, firing Mark 48 homing acoustic torpedoes for ASW warfare. They were placed deck aft, close to the aft main 76 mm guns and still there after the modernization.

Onboard Aviation

Vittorio Veneto could operate up to nine light helicopters, of the types Agusta-Bell AB-204 or later AB-212 or six heavy helicopters of the type AB-61 (Sea King under licence) which could be housed in the hangar beneath the long rear deck.

Agusta-Bell 61 Sea King

Agusta-Bell 205

Agusta-Bell 212


The electronics were rather advanced for the time, comprising a three-dimensional AN/SPS-52 B radar and an SPS-768 (RAN 3L) air search radar. For anti-submarine warfare an AN/SQS-23 sonar set was installed.

  • 1 × SPS-52 early warning radar
  • 1 × SPS-768 long range radar
  • 1 × SPQ-2 surface radar
  • 2 × SPG-55 missile fire control radar
  • 4 × Orion 10X fire control radar
  • 2 × Orion 20X fire control radar
  • 1 × navigation radar
  • 2 × SCLAR decoy launcher
  • 1 × ECM system
  • 1 × TACAN

Vittorio Veneto (1967)

Dimensions 179.6 x 19.4 m x 6 m (589ft x 64ft x 19.7ft)
Displacement 7,500 tons standard, 8,850 tons FL
Crew 557
Propulsion 2 shafts geared steam turbines, 4 FW boilers 73,000 hp
Speed 30.5 knots (56.5 km/h; 35.1 mph) Range 5,000 nm/16 kts
Armament RIM-2 Terrier/ASROC, 4 OTOMAT SSM, 8×76mm, 3×2 40mm, 2×3 ASW 324mm TTs
Sensors SPS-52, SPS-768, SPQ-2, SPG-55, Orion FCR, nav, ECM, SCLAR, Tacan
Aviation 6-9 ASW helicopters, see notes

Early career of Vittorio Veneto 1969-80

Early career, in Operation with the destroyer Impetuoso and frigate Margottini, 1970s

Sometimes called the third Andrea Doria class ships (the first design was the same with just a large hangar aft) the design was so strongly modified as to constitute a new class of its own. The Cruiser “Vittorio Veneto” was built at the Shipbuilding Yards of Castellammare di Stabia, the concrete result of years of redesign, seraching for the best compromise solution between demands of air defence and anti-submarine operations. It was to be assigned to multiple tasks, which include antiaircraft protection, antisubmarine and antiship protection of naval forces and convoys; antisubmarine warfare; and antiaircraft defense of a zone. The second prospective unit, to be named “Italia” was cancelled in favor of the “Garibaldi” aicraft carrier programme.

Completed at Navalmeccanica, still in Castellammare di Stabia, the cruiser, launched on 5 February 1967 was officially commissioned on 12 July 1969, with captain Vittorio Marulli in command, directing since 1966 the outfitting. Her became admiral in September 1981-January 1984 as well as Commander in Chief of the Naval Squadron. From February 1984 to 15 October 1985 he became also Chief of Navy General Staff. A veteran of WW2 he served already in the battleship Vittorio Veneto.

Veneto reached her operational base in Taranto for he first yearly deployment starting on 30 October. On 4 November, she was certified, receiving the Combat Flag in Trieste donated by the city of Vittorio Veneto. This combat flag was handed over by Countess Maria Francesca Frascara, widow of Admiral Corso Pecori Giraldi (former captain of the battleships Vittorio Veneto and 1955-1962 Chief of Staff).

After a year of service, she left for a long training cruise from April 25 to August 23, 1970 in the North Atlantic, visiting American and European ports along the way. Back to her operating base she trained with the missile cruiser Garibaldi. In 1971 Vittorio Veneto assumed the role of flagship for several years, only ceded to the aircraft carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi in 1987.

During her activity, the cruiser Vittorio Veneto participated in numerous national and international exercises within great NATO coalition manoeuvers always as command ship of escort groups to aircraft carrier units or large convoys. In 1972, (August 16, to October 29) she sailed with two frigates of the Bergamini class in a long training campaign in South America.

Veneto moored as TS in Malaga last years of service

The winter and spring of 1973 saw her teaming with Andrea Doria and the 3rd Helicopter Group in a relief effort towards the Tunisian populations affected by a major flood. She took part in a rescue operation of nationals hit by earthquakes at Friuli in 1976, and Irpinia in 1980. She made a world-cruise in 1977 which took a strain on the ship in general.

In 1978, Vittorio Veneto participated in the summer training cruise, with Livorno Academy’s second year students, replacing San Giorgio still under completion. Her navigation in the Indian Ocean saw hir hit hard by the monsoon. Her hangar was managed as a dormitory for the students during this cruiser and she only had a token provision of helioipters. In the summer of 1979, with Andrea Doria and the refueling vessel Stromboli (VIII Naval Group) she operated in the waters of the Gulf of Thailand , South China Sea, coming to rescue boats people. She carried back to Italy a thousand Vietnamese refugees fleeing their country back to Venice.

1980s refits

Veneto in 1985

The ship underwent an extensive update for three years at Castellamare di Stabia. Electronics were of course updated, Otomat Mk.2 missiles launchers for antiship warfare installed and a SPS-40 radar to go with these. Three OTO Melara twin 40 mm/70 Bread Compact (1.6 in) DARDO CIWS compact guns were also added for mixed AA/AM warfare. Her powerplant was modernized, using a new feeding system, without heavy oil but now diesel fuel.

Her improvements were suited to her multiple roles as anti-aircraft, anti-submarine protection and anti-ship, plus convoy escort and anti-submarine warfare, command and area air defence tasks. In hand from 1981 to early 1984 for modernisation which included the installation of four Teseo launchers and the three twin Breda compact 40 mm. Terrier missiles were removed, replaced by 40 Standard SM1 and 20 ASROC ASM – SM-1ER SAM/ASROC (40 RIM-67A, 20 RUR-5)- SAM/ASW twin missile launcher. Two SPG-55C Standard fire control systems were added, and Italian-built RAN-3L (SPS-768) and two RTN-20X (SPG-74) radars were installed to manage the new systems.

Profile of the Veneto in 1985. Src navypedia

Operations in Lebanon and Achille Lauro assault

In February 1984, she covered Italian troops operating under supervision of a UN operation to the second phase of “Lebano Due”, escorting convoys to and from Italy and with her helicopter, covering and transporting national contingents deployed in Beirut. In February 1985 she carried the italian president of the Republic Pertini during an official visit to Egypt. In October she took part in Operation Margherita, shadowing the transatlantic Achille Lauro seized by Palestinian terrorists. The whole operation was coordinated by Vittorio Veneto, using for the first time COMSUBIN paratroopers.

The 1990s: No longer a flagship

Veneto in Malaga, Spain, 2001

As the new aircraft carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi entere service on 30 September 1985, Vittorio Veneto lost her flagship role, but still went on participating in the most important national and international exercises of the Mediterranean, like Operation Ibis (1992-1993) in which she was the command ship of the 24th Naval Group with the Frigate Grecale, the fleet refueller Vesuvio, landing ships San Giorgio and San Marco carrying the “San Marco” Battalion in a large landing exercize.

In April-September 1993, Vittorio Veneto became the HQ Ship for STANAVFORMED, NATO permanent naval force in the Mediterranean. She took part in Operation Maritime Guard in the Adriatic.
Vittorio Veneto ran aground in bad weather off Vlorë on 22 April 1997, as flagship of a multinational task-force protectin a humanitarian relief operation to Albania. Four tugboats pulled free but she suffered no serious damage nor injuries.

After 1985 the guided-missile helicopter-carrying cruiser Vittorio Veneto was mainly -if not exclusively- operated as a training ship for 2-3 month yearly during her deployments to different parts of the world. At the time of her decommission in November 2003, she was not the last European cruiser in service, as the French cruiser Jeanne d’Arc (2010) remained longer. Her ASW air support role was assumed by the new generation V/STOL aircraft carrier Conte di Cavour. After lingering for some time in a mothball she was eventually stricken formally on 29 June 2006, but not sold yet. She was eventually purchased to be scrapped at Aliaga, Turkey, in 2021, so very recently indeed.

Veneto in Taranto

About the name:

Veneto in taranto after decommission.

Veneto at sunset in taranto’s mothball, waiting to be sold for scrap, 2010s

The battle of Vittorio-Veneto was the largest Italian-Austro-Hungarian fight of the Great War, the Verdun on Italy. Engaging nearly two million combatants on a front of about 250 km in snow, from marshes in the south to icy fields in the plains and among lofty peaks and sometimes above the clouds in the Alps, it was planned and prepared in secret and executed on schedule like a vast tactical exercise, resulting on a crushing victory that erased the bad souvenir of Capporetto.

Read More/Src


J. Gardiner, Conway’s all the world’s fighting ships 1947-95
John Moore, ed. (1981). Jane’s Fighting Ships, 1981-1982. New York: Jane’s Information Group.
Gardiner & Chumbly, p.205


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Video: The last cruiser built in Western Europe
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Doria class helicopter cruisers (1962)

Doria class helicopter cruisers (1962)

Andra Doria, Caio Duilio, in service 1964-1992

The first Italian helicopter missile cruisers:
The Andrea Doria class became an important step in the reconstruction of the Italian Navy after WW2, following the modernization of former cruisers, such as the Garibaldi, reconfigured as a Terrier missile cruiser. Italian engineers were given in 1956 the greenlight to develop a brand new cruiser from scratch, adapted to modern warfare. Plans were approved in 1957 and voted under the 1957-58 new construction law. Since top speed, artillery and armour protection were no longer the main focus, the space freed by machinery helped to devise a smaller, yet better distributed hull around two main assets: A Terrier missile system, and helicopters for ASW warfare. One of NATO’s priorities at that time was indeed the threat of the black sea fleet numerous Soviet submarines. These ships formed the backbone of the Italian fleet with Garibaldi until the latter was replaced by Vittorio Veneto in 1970, another helicopter cruiser, but with twice the displacement of the Doria class.

The term “Helicopter cruiser”, like “helicopter destroyer” in cold war nomenclature usually refers, as a convention, to the fact the ship is capable of carrying more helicopters than the usual number (one or two) with extensive facilities. In the Italian case they were both “missile” and “helicopter” cruisers. The term of missile cruiser was abandoned in the 1980s as conventional cruisers were, in principle, all disarmed. An existing cruiser was assumed to be missile-equipped. The helicopter was a considerable asset as its vertical take off/landing capabilities (STOVL) allowed to use a reduced deck surface contrary to an aircraft carrier. Helicopters proved more efficient and versatile for SAR operations as well as reconnaissance and ASW warfare, and could be carried in some numbers, while keeping the ship’s deck surface free and capabilities intact, leading to the creation in all navies of hybrids.
The new names given to these ships were prestigious ones. They referred to the Genoese Renaissance admiral Doria, and Roman consul Gaius Duilius respectively.

Design development history

The two ships that made up this class were initially planned as multi-role vessels, designed to perform in a balanced command and control, anti-aircraft and anti-submarine warfare, defending naval formations. They were designed also with NBC protection in mind, with the possibility of full isolation from the environment and to be able to carry out washing and radioactive de-pollution of the superstructures. After all it was the cold war and a nuclear war was a very real and realistic threat the military trained for.

Displacement and the dimensions were rather limited, in part because of cost issues, and because their role did not required much space. They were characterized by a continuous flush deck, with find entries but rather wide stern. The aft area as characterized by its large flight deck and hangar. Initially a third cruiser of this class was planned, Enrico Dandolo (C 555). Its construction was cancelled, as the Vittorio Veneto (C 550) was ordered instead, 50% heavier, carrying twice as much helicopters. The Dorias, recently entering service in 1964, already showed they were a bit too small. Veneto was ordered in 1965.

Aft OTO Melara gun, hangar and AB-47 on Duilio’s deck



The propulsion was steam powered with four Foster & Wheleer boilers and two steam turbines connected by two-propeller turbo-reducer groups, with a power of 60,000 HP which allowed a speed of 31 knots with a range of 6,000 miles at 15 knots.


For medium and long range AA defense, a Mk 10 Mod.10 launch pad for Terrier missiles was located in the forward area. The Terrier was the standard US/NATO naval SAM. It used on the Doria the horizontal loader Mod.10, also able to load the SM-1, Typhoon LR and ASROC in case (this was never done). The loader was fed by four barillets under the main deck, down to the bottom of the ship. It was also adopted by the Veneto, making the Italian Navy the last foreign user of the Terrier, in 2006.
The short-range AA defense, eight single 76/62 mm O.T.O. Melara were provided. They were arranged amidships, laterally placed, with four on each side around the main bridge. Only the two abreast the main mast were just above deck level, two forward were on the roof superstructure level, the four aft on the hangar roof. These versatile, reliable, compact and fast weapons proved one of the most stunning Italian cold war industrial successes.
The ships were equipped with two triple 324 mm Mk 32 torpedo tube banks. The Mk.32 were standard US/NATO ASW acoustic torpedoes, with a effective firing range of 9600 yards, a 24-minute search duration at 12 knots, fitted with a 107 pounds HBX warhead using a Mk 19 Mods 4/11 contact exploder.

SH-34J on board Andrea Doria during a review


Agusta-Bell 204/205 src
At first it was designed to house four Sea King helicopters, which had a long range and fully amphibious capabilities (landing and taking off from water).
But in service, it proved too cramped and instead, the space available only allowed for accommodating four AB-204 medium helicopters (Agusta-Bell, UH-1 licenced model) or two SH-34 heavy helicopters while the poop below the flight deck was reserved for mooring. The hull was given Denny Brown stabilizing fins for roll reduction.


-The Terrier were guided by two Sperry AN/SPG-55A radars allowing for simultaneous guidance of both missiles.
-The OTO Melara AA guns were served by four Argo NA-10 furing direction centers.
-The ASW component consisted of the AN/SQS-23 sonar placed in the foward hull section, locating targets, data passing to the TT command.
The electronic warfare adopted also initially comprised a three-dimensional Frescan AN/SPS-39 air warning and search radar, and the R.C.A. AN/SPS-12. The ship’s main mast also carried the navigation radar S.M.A. MM-SPQ-2 and a TACAN beacon for aviation navigation.
Although it was sufficient to ensure minimal cooperation with NATO’s multinational naval forces both ships were criticized as lacking automated command and control systems. They were implemented during subsequent modernization works.

Caio Dulio in Completion in 1963

Doria class (1964)

Dimensions 149.3 x 17.3 m x 5 m (490ft x 56ft 5in x 16ft 5in)
Displacement 5,000 tons standard, 6,500 tons FL
Crew 485
Propulsion 2 shafts geared steam turbines, 4 FW boilers 60,000 hp
Speed 30 knots ( km/h; mph) Range 5000 nm/7 kts
Armament 1×2 Terrier SAM (30), 8× 76mm/62, 2×3 ASW 324mm TTs
Sensors SPS-12, SPS-39A, SPQ-2, Sonar SQS-39
Aviation 4 Agusta-Bell helicopters

Doria class early career 1964-72

Andrea Doria firing her terrier missile

The Doria and Duilio were built at CNR, Riva Trigoso and Castellammare di Stabia respectively, ordered the same day and laid down at six days interval in May 1958. They were launched in December 1962 (Duilio – so the class could have been named after her) and February 1963, and completed in 1964, February for Doria and November for Duilio.
These represented a leap forward in the future by their general concept, suitable for anti-aircraft and anti-submarine escorts of naval formations, and the the result of a controversial confidence of N.A.T.O. and the USA towards the Italian Government in a difficult phase of the cold war.
Although sufficient to ensure cooperation with NATO multinational forces these ships were soon recognise as being too small and lacking automated command and control systems. They would be modernized later.

Before this, their operational career was intense and eventful. Doria received the combat flag from Admiral Mario Bussola, coming form the previous Battleship Andrea Doria, on 3 August 1964. After her first missile launch, she took to the sea for a training campaign in the Far East, at the occasion of the Tokyo Olympics. She returned from this long cruise on 5 December, after travelling some 22,294 miles under command of her first Captain, Giuseppe Galluccio.

For most of their career, the ships carried the SH-34 helicopter, after the Agusta AB-47 (Bell 47), and before the AB 204/205 and Sea King.

In the 1980s, tests were made of landings and take-offs of the AV8B Harrier deployed on the aircraft carrier Garibaldi.

She made another another cruise of 13,010 miles in South America under command of Captain Claudio Celli. She trained in Taranto on January 19, 1965 in a massive exercize. Considered a prestigious Unit and ambassador of the Italian Navy, she roamed the length and breadth of the Mediterranean, participating in the most complex national and NATO inter-allied exercises. Down Patrol and Quick Draw, Iles d’Or, were among these. In the latter, she was awarded the 1973 “Ship of the Year” prize. During an overhaul in 1976-1978 her powerplant was retired and completely modernized, converted from oil to diesel. The missile system was also modernized and standardized along NATO’s latest setup.


During the seventies, the two ships saw the installation of the first automatic systems of the combat operations direction (SADOC 1). This was a first for Italian ships. In the meantime, their electronic suite was also overhauled, with the R.C.A. AN/SPS-12 replaced by the Lockheed Electronics AN/SPS-40 radar, and later by the MM/SPS-768 long-range air-naval discovery radar. It was in fact manufactured in Italy, by Selenia, and became standard for the large units of the fleet. Its installation needed to modify the support bracket of the rotating antenna dish. Added to this, the ship’s original three-dimensional Frescan AN/SPS-39 long range aerial detection radar was replaced by the US-manufactured Hughes AN/SPS-52. Her TACAN tube apparatus was replaced by a modern, solid state system. Diesel and missile system brought to current US standards was also carried out. Instead of three sea kings, the ship was given four AB 212 medium helicopters or down to two SH 3D Sea King heavy helicopters.

Andrea Doria late in her career

Modernization also implied the addition of two 105 mm SCLAR multiple rocket launchers. They could elevate and pivot, and were able to simultaneously load different types of rockets such as Chaff, flares or smoke, as well as explosive rockets at a radius of 10 km. Rate of fire was one rocket per second. These were mounted along the main deck, roughly halfway along the ship, one on each side, in two semicircular protruding pads. The rest of the armament was left as it was.

Late career 1979-90

In 1979 Doria was deployed in the Far East, with the Vittorio Veneto and Stromboli, for a humanitarian operation in favor of Vietnamese refugees. She was seen in operation in 1980 in the waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, participating in search and rescue operations (SAR) for an Italian DC-9 crashed at sea near Ustica. On 29 November 1980, she was in Naples, helping populations hit by the earthquake Irpinia.
Transferred from La Spezia to Taranto, she assumed the role of command headquarters for the 2nd Naval Division. She participated in a peace keeping mission off Lebanon in 1984, in support of the Italian land forces, and later part of the Multinational 1986 peacekeeping mission in the Libyan crisis.
On 11 September 1992, she was at sea for the last time, carrying the 2nd Naval Division HQ on board. Upon returning, she was berthed for a disarmament. Her keel had seen 577.00 miles, in all the seas of the world. On 30 September she was at berth no. 23, Torpedo Station in Taranto. A last flag hoisting ceremony was held, chaired by the Commander in Chief of the Ionian Sea and Otranto canal, Admiral Alfeo Battelli. The 30 officers which were in command of Doria also took part. Officially though, she was stricken in 1991, seeing the most part of the cold war.

About Caio Dulio

Doria, Duilio and Garibaldi in an epic photo, 1970s

The ship bears a name seemingly associated with the previous Fascist regime, which was fond of using the image of the Roman Empire. How it was so ? The Roman leader Caio Duilio, consul of Rome in 260 BC was indeed the only one honored that way because of its specific connection to the Italian naval history: He was indeed victorious over the powerful Carthaginian fleet, having the idea of building and training crews for a fleet of 120 ships, a first for Rome, a land power until then. He also had the idea of equipping she ships with the “corvus”, the famous assault mobile bridge and exploit the Roman hand-to-hand combat abilities, helping to win the first Punic war. The battle of Milazzo helped the Romans becoming the new masters of the western Mediterranean.

The name Caio Duilio was used on an ironclad, also built in Castellammare di Stabia in 1880. With its 450 mm guns, it was considered the most powerful warship in the Mediterranean. The second was a 1915 dreadnought, was discarded in 1956 after reconstruction in 1937-1940 and ww1 and ww2 service. The last to bear this name is a large frigate of the Orizzonte Class, D 554, built this time by Fincantieri, Riva Trigoso/Muggiano in 2009.

Italian cruiser Caio Duilio underway in the early 1970s with destroyers and frigates

If not lackluster, Duilio’s career was less prestigious than her sister ship: Assigned to the 2nd Offshore Naval Group, 2nd Naval Division, she was based in Taranto in the 1980s, after refit. She was transferred from Taranto to La Spezia while her sister ship Andrea Doria made the reverse trip. After her relocation, Caio Duilio became a training ship for the Naval Academy of Livorno, replacing the old AA cruiser San Giorgio decommissioned in 1980 (a former, rebuilt “Capitani Romani” class ship). She needed to be adapted for this new task, and it was necessary to make changes in her accomodation and decrease her armament, removing two of her 76/62mm guns and reduced AB helicopters to just two. She made numerous training cruises. The 1984 one brought her to the United States and it was held in conjunction with the Los Angeles Olympic Games. Duilio passed for this the panama canal and stopped at many cities along both coasts of the United States. The 1988 cruiser saw her in the Pacific, stopping in Australia in conjunction with the bicentennial of the continent’s discovery. She was decommissioned in 1991.
Both could be compared to the 1960s Moskva-class helicopter carrier and the French cruiser Jeanne d’Arc.

Caio Diulio off Lebanon in 1984

Read More/Src

J. Gardiner, Conway’s all the world’s fighting ships 1947-95
John Moore, ed. (1981). Jane’s Fighting Ships, 1981-1982. New York: Jane’s Information Group.

Illustrations on

Missile cruiser Garibaldi (1960)

Missile cruiser Garibaldi (1960)

Giuseppe Garibaldi (1936), converted 1957-61, in service 1962-1972

The Condottieri are back in action!

In 1948, Italy still had a considerable fleet of cruisers, survivors of WW2: Most of them were light cruisers of the superclass ‘Condotierre’, the old Cadorna (discarded 1951), the Raimondo Montecuccoli (taken in hands for modernization later), the Duca d’Aosta (To USSR in 1949), the Eugenio di Savoia (To Greece 1951), the two Duca Degli Abruzzi class, and four Scipione Africano class, of which two were transferred to France in 1948. Only the R.Montecuccoli, the two D.D.Abruzzi and two ‘Africano’ class left. The admiralty decided that due to their hull age, it was sound to modernize them in some extent. Therefore during the early phase of the cold war, Italy had seaworthy five cruisers, all pending modernization. It varied according to their size and age, and differed on all five. The smallest one, the G. Germanico and P. Magno were in-between destroyers and cruisers, and were rebuilt as large AA destroyers escorts and of course, renamed, San Giorgio and San Marco. Situation was more complicated for the mush larger three other Condottiere. The 8,500 tonnes R.Montecuccoli was the first modernized, taken in hands in 1947, and completed in 1949: This was a significant modernization as she was indeed converted as a cadet training ship (see later) and served in this role until replaced by San Giorgio, discarded in June 1964, so after a thirty years career.
But the most interesting and ambitious conversion was applied to the two Duca Degli Abruzzi class (which kept their names, still relevant in the context of cold war Italy), modernizations staged in 1949-51 and 1951-53 for the Guiseppe Garibaldi and D.D.Abruzzi respectively, and a second round for Garibaldi in 1960, which became for all intent and purposes, the first Italian missile cruiser, and one of the most extensive cruiser modernization in Europe, only comparable to the Colbert and Suffren in France, or the USN Cruisers of the Camberra class.

About the Montecuccoli

Launched in 1934, Raimondo Montecuccoli was the oldest of the large London treaty ‘Condotierri’ cruisers. At the armistice, Montecuccoli carried out 32 war missions covering 31,590 miles. During the co-belligerence period and until the end of the conflict, she participated in numerous missions of fast transport and repatriation of prisoners. After 1945 she was mothballed, pending her fate during peace negotiations. Granted eventually to Italy but only as a training cruiser, she was available for modernization.
R. Montecuccoli resumed her activity from 1947 until 1949 and after a maintenance refit involving minor changes, the admiralty prepared a design fit to best perform her new task of training ship for the students of the Naval Academy of Livorno. She was to carry out summer school cruises from the summer of 1949 in the Mediterranean and beyond, like to Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1951, London in 1952. In 1953, she resumed her activities in the Mediterranean while the conversion draft was ready. In 1954, she was taken in hands for a reconstruction. This was performed by the Arsenal of La Spezia from June 1954. These modification made her more suitable as a training ship, fully compatible with NATO requirements as Italy just entered the organization. As completed, she was given the new serial number C552 acccording to NATO classification (C for cruiser).

Changes involved the elimination of two boilers, of the nº2 turret, together with its barbette and ammunition storage, the 100mm/47 AA turrets and their FCS, the four twin 20 mm/70 Breda machine guns, while their 37/54 twin mounts. They were all replaced by new 40/56 “Bofors” mounts. Electronics was installed for the first time, a surface radar, aerial surveillance radar, new fire control radars and a new firing center were installed. Fuel tanks were increased by 300 m³ with the space gained in the elimination of two boilers, giving an additional 615 miles of range. The appearance changed much, in particular for the central section of ​​the ship, forward funnel and command bridge remodelled and a sturdy lattice mast installed to carry the radars and antennas and associated equipments.

Alternating fleet exercises activity with training cruises, Montecuccoli visited Copenhagen in 1955, Montreal, Boston and Philadelphia in 1958, Helsinki in 1961. The started a circumnavigation of the world from 1 September 1956 to 1 March 1957 and represented Italy in Australia in conjunction with the Melbourne Olympics at the time the Suez Canal was closed. By then under command of captain Gino Birindelli, she visited 34 ports on four continents, for a grand total of 33,170 miles. She made one more circumnavigtion, this time of the African continent in 1963, but her age meant she was disarmed in Taranto on 31 May 1964. She was mothballed for a time, then towed to La Spezia and in 1972 scrapped for good. In 1965 she was replaced as a training ship by the AA destroyer escort (ex cruiser) San Giorgio.

The Raimondo Montecuccoli in 1960.

Reconstruction of the Duca Degli Abruzzi (1949-51)

Together with her sister ship, Garibaldi, Cadorna and Montecuccoli, this was the cruiser force of postwar Italy, spared by events of war reparations. Luigi di Savoia Duca de Abruzzi was called the “cruiser of the exiles” as she carried the royal family of Italy into exile, when King Vittorio Emanuele III first left for Alexandria in Egypt, with the title of “Count of Pollenzo” after signing a formal abdication in Naples, in favor of his son Umberto II. After the war the first modernization came with the installation of an L.W.S. radar installed on top of the mainmast, of the British type 293, characterized by its crossed dipole frame antenna. Between 1951 and 1953, a more extensive modernization started.
New Electronics
The forward superstructure was completely rebuilt, giving a new aspect to the bridge and the conning tower, while a new and sturdier tripod mast was installed to carry the weight of a larger parabolic air-naval discovery radar of the type SK 42, later replaced in turned by the US-built AN/SPS-6 search radar. An odometer radar was also placed on the mainmast, used as an altitude rangefinder. The same was also installed on San Giorgio as modernized (ex-Capitani Romani class).

HD rendition of RN Luigi di Savoia Duca Degli Abruzzi in 1953

-The cruiser kept her armour and main artillery, the same ten 6-in guns in triple and twin turrets for and aft. However her AA was no longer relevant in the jet age.
-The secondary armament therefore was deposed and replaced entirely by twenty-four 40mm/56 pompom guns in four quadruple mounts and four twin, but two 100 mm/47 mm twin guns were kept, aft. This constituted a new, more modern anti-aircraft armament for the 1950s standard.
The powerplant was modified as well, but no modernized. Priorities changed and the radius of action was now preferred to excessive speeds. Two boilers were retired, reducing the output and max speed to 28 knots.

Back in Action
On 26 October 1954, the cruiser was in Trieste, and departed escorted by the destroyers Granatiere, Artigliere and Grecale, back to Italy with the cheering crowd and great joy for the crews returning home. The ship took part in the parade of November 4, held in the presence of President Einaudi, with all ships exhibiting the great pavese, including the cruiser Montecuccoli, the TBs Libra and Cassiopea while Duke of Abruzzi remained in Trieste, Artigliere and Vespucci and the students of the Naval Academy of Livorno on board. Until 1956-57 she was the only full-time cruiser in the Navy, as Cadorna was decommissioned since 1951, Montecuccoli refitted as training ship and Garibaldi in reserve and planned in 1957 for reconstruction. In 1956, Andrea Doria was decommissioned and the Duke of Abruzzi became the headquarters C-in-C and flagship of the Italian Navy, the Marina Militare. In 1961, she was decommissioned, and her moderized sister Garibaldi took the role of flagship in her place.

1st Reconstruction of the Giuseppe Garibaldi (1951-53)

Giuseppe Garibaldi after her first refit in 1952

Modernization of the Garibaldi: In 1947 (top) and its 152 mm/55 guns and turrets removed during reconstruction

It would be plain false to see all four cruisers spared by the peace treaty operating together after the war: Cadorna was disarmed almost immediately after the war, while Montecuccoli now operated as training ship for the naval academy of Livorno, leaving the Garibaldi pair as active cruisers in the new Republican Marina Italiana.

Giuseppe Garibaldi was taken in hands after Abruzzi, but already in 1946 her torpedo tubes were removed as well as the catapults and aircraft facilities, now obsolete. A British type radio telemeter NSA-1 was installed. In 1947-1948, Garibaldi underwent a larger modernization, with minor changes in the superstructure and a reinforced foremast to accomodate an American SO 8 radar and a SK 42 parabolic radar on their respective platforms, also used by the San Marco, San Giorgio and her sister ship Duca degli Abruzzi, on a lowered mast. In place of the former TTs, two 100/47 mm guns were installed in 1947 for illumination while the secondary armament was completely overhauled:
It consisted in ten 100 mm/47 guns and six twin 37mm/ 54 plus four single 20mm/70 Oerlikon guns and four 20mm/65 mm Breda. Well prove, they were easy to use and maintain and came with a large variety of ammunitions, tracer, tracer-explosive, with time-fuse, and others.

Tests of the Bell 47 (locally built as AB-47G on Garibaldi, 1953 in the gulf of Gaeta

Also, an helicopter platform was erected aft, just large enough to accomodate a Bell 47 helicopter. The latter started a testing campaigns of landing and take-off tests, off the coast of Gaeta during the summer of 1953. After the positive outcome Navy made anti-submarine helicopters standard on its destroyers and frigates, and fixed or telescopic hangars depending on the space available. The need for helicopters would just grow exponentially as much was perceived the Soviet submarine threat, which started to appear in the Mediterranean in the 1960s. Some indeed were spotted coming from the Albanian base in Valona. Thus began the development of a new category of helicopter ASW ships, pioneered by Italy. The Bergamini-class frigates much later were a development of a serie of ships started with the first helicopter cruisers in the world, the Doria-class, which pioneered arrangements later adopted for the much larger Vittorio Veneto and became standard for all subsequent constructions.

The Caio Duilio of the Doria class helicopter cruiser. Bell 47 tests performed on the Garibaldi allowed this radical new construction.

Further modifications were done on the main bridge superstructure, with the armour partially removed, and new electronic surveillance arrays of American type, plus the navigation radar type S.O. 13, later replaced by the domestic S.M.A. model later, and an air search radar with a large parabolic antenna mounted aft on a dedicated lattice mast.
After a short operational life during which she participated in the large scale inter-allied GRAND SLAM exercise, Garibaldi was placed in the reserve in 1953, pending her fate. By December 1954, decision had been taken to convert her completely in La Spezia Arsenal as a missile cruiser.

Garibaldi as a missile cruiser (1960)

In 1957, Garibaldi was scheduled for a scrapping of all the superstructure and most of the hull interior, to left it bare, down to the engine floor level. The transformation work started at the end of 1957 while Cadorna already was disarmed and Montecuccoli in training, leaving the Duca degli Abruzzi aas the sole Italian cruiser in service, used as flagship after the Duilio was disarmed in 1956.

The design of the reconstruction at superstructure level implied new arrangement for the future electronics, heavier masts to support large aerials, antennas and radars, also making provision for a Terrier missile system, which was the main goal of the whole operation and occupied a large portion aft of the hull, also with fire control systems and a central operation. The rest of the hull was also modified to include a new, modern AA arrangement so the old 6-in turrets, barbettes, storage ammunitions were removed. Lots of space were left for future modular adaptations as well.
The Arsenal of La Spezia was tasked for this radical reconstruction, completed in 1961 (1957-1961, so five years). It was certainly one of the most radical reconstruction of a WW2 cruiser in Europe, on par with the French Colbert in 1970, the Dutch De Ruyter class or the Swedish Gota Lejon, the British Tiger class, in less extent. But their most direct reference was the reconstruction of the Albany class fleet escorts, former Baltimore class hulls recommissioned in 1962, with a major difference, the latter were much larger and displaced twice as much, and accommodated several missile systems at once, making them far more complex overall.

Reconstruction of the hull

A model of the Garibaldi as rebuilt

After her radical reconstruction, Garibaldi reached a standard displacement of 9,802 tons, 11,350 fully loaded (vs. 9387 t/11262 t FL in 1937), her keel however slightly less deep at 6.7 meters vs. 6.8 originally. The only part not modified to a great extent was the hull, which retained its original dimensions and configuration. Needless to say, most of the armour was gone, therefore the heavier displacement gives some clues about the equipments that were added to the ship. The hull was lower than the original but kept its forecastle. The aft section of the hull and the stern were rebuilt, notably with a transom stern. The closing of all openings but on the upper forecastle deck allowed the installation of a ventilation and air conditioning system in closed loop, which allowed an efficient NBC defense system, relevant under modern NATO standards. There was a massive superstructure aft starting at the forecastle step, about 90 meters long and this large deckhouse housed the complex Terrier missile system. The volume was increased as well as the ship’s hydrodynamic trim.
What remained concerned only sensitive part of the ship, which was originally slightly better armed than the earlier Condotierre series and optimized against 6-in shells only. The main belt, armoured deck longitudinal and transverse bulkheads were all removed, but armour was kept in places:
Vertical armor deck 100 mm, partial central belt 40 mm (notably around the new central operation), artillery turret faces and barbettes 135 mm, internal conning tower 140 mm. The major change for the vertical armor was the commission of a add-on 30 mm stray over the machinery, steering room and ammo storage.

Powerplant and performances

Two boilers of the aft boiler room were removed, while the other engine rooms were unchanged, one funnel eliminated by truncating the exhausts. Exhaust pipes of the six remaining boilers were therefore modified, and auxiliary made, to widen the base of the single funnel. The power dropped to 85,000 hp, top speed to 30 knots (55,56 km/h), which was still very reasonable. This coincided with a reduction in fuel consumption, so the Garibaldi could now reach 4,500 nm at 18 knots (vs. 4,125 nm at 13 kts), while revised arrangements limited maximum fuel capacity, down to 1,700 tons. The boilers were completely overhauled and cleaned anew, as well as all the gauges and indicators, pipes, and the turbines disassembled, cleaned and reassembled. If the revised powerplant did not bring much change, less speed and more range, it was not sufficient to provided the power-hungry new electronics installations.
To cope with the energy needs it was necessary to install four Tosi-Brown Boveri turbo-alternators, in addition to two Fiat-Brown Boveri diesel-alternators generating alternating current at 440V for a total of 4,000 Kw, and overall power onboard of 89,000 shp (70 000 kW). It was a provision for future revisions, and sufficient to illuminate a city of 200,000 inhabitants.

2-views of the cruiser (src navypedia)

Gun Armament

The Garibaldi was yet not a pure missile cruiser, but her armament was modern and dual purpose, although still giving her a silhouette reminiscent of the old conventional vessel. As rebuilt, she was indeed given two twin turrets, with cannone da 135mm/45. This was completed by eight single cannone da 76mm/62 by OTO Melara for pure AA defense, all arranged along the forecastle superstructure bridge.

135/45 mm guns: Distributed in two twin turrets forward these were the same dual purpose guns designed in 1942-43 for the Capitani Romani class and later fitted on the rebuilt Battleship Duilio. The 135mm/45 guns, which in the Garibaldi were installed in fully automated turrets. can be considered the best Italian naval guns in the Second World War, with a range of 19.6 km and a rate of fire of 6 shots per minute, and were capable of performing very precise shots, but, with an elevation of 45 ° however, they lacked satisfactory anti-aircraft capability, if not a barrage. In 1968 the barrels were lengthened and the 135/53 guns had to be installed on the Audace, then in design. The turrets were installed in a superfiring configuration forward, superficially looking like their former artillery. Due to the age of this weapons system, it was seen as a compromise for those in the Navy still trusting a relatively heavy artillery. The Doria and Veneto class will not have any such system and relied on smaller SAMs and antimissile systems. So that was a transitional move.

76mm/62 guns: These were newly designed and extensively tested on the Carabiniere, a rebuilt postwar destroyer, and was introduced to the Navy at large during the sixties. It was soon found onboard the Bergamini class destroyers and Alpino class frigates, Doria and the Vittorio Veneto class cruisers. It was replaced in turn by the classic OTO Melara “super rapido” 76mm/62 Compact first installed on the Audace class destroyers.
The 76/62 MMI “Enlarged” were a pure dual purpose weapon, with water-cooled barrels, and mixing electric and hydraulic power for elevation and traverse, with manual backup in emergency. Its range was just 18.4 km with HE shells (6.296 kg) at 45 °, while at 85° it dropped to 4km. Traverse rate was 70°/s, and elevation rate 40°/s. The turret accommodated a single crew member. The Cannone da 76/62 from OTO was the evolution of the SMP-3 model which had been embarked on the introduced first on the Albatros class corvettes of 1955. There was also a tandem version with overlapping barrels of this weapons system tested on the Centauro class frigates, but it was not successful and not adopted elsewhere.

Missile armament

Rear view of the Garibaldi and its Terrier missile system. The reload system took most of the aft part of the ship.

It was quite impressive as well, with missiles that had unique capabilities, rarely seen outside the US. It consisted in:
-A twin launcher for the RIM Terrier SAM
-Four UGM-27 Polaris in silos (from 1967)

The the installation in an aft deckhouse of the American Terrier missile system, made the Garibaldi the first European missile cruiser, and a landmark for NATO history. The origins of this transformation work was the need of a protective bubble against Soviet bombers, so from medium to long-range. It was needed a missile system capable of launching two double-stage missiles, simultaneously and independently guided towards their own targets. Terrier missiles were at the time the best SAM available, and only the USA possessed them. Other systems were used such like the Bundesmarine with the Lütjens class destroyers and their Tartar SAM. The large Terrier derived from Talos but then evolved independently. More on this on the cold war early USN missile cruisers. The Terrier launched a relatively smaller missile than the Talos, with small opening fins maximizing range and speed and reducing drag. The Garibaldi was fitted with the standard Mk 10 twin launcher ramp also used on USN cruisers, and fully stabilized on three axis, so proven on any sea state. The later Vittorio Veneto adopted the Mk 20 Aster also seen on the Belknap class. Italy was the only country for which these missiles were exported, showing the close ties and trust between this country and the USA.
For propulsion, the Terrier had an acceleration booster and additional solid fuel rocket at the rear and carried a 100 kg fragmentation warhead which was placed at the middle of the missile body. First tests started at the ship’s first post-reconstruction cruise on the US coast, on 11 November 1962 in San Juan of Puerto Rico, and this was also the first missile launch by any Italian unit.

The Terrier launch system was assisted by an equally modern electronics and guiding suite, also built in the US and adapted for the Italian cruiser. This was the “Argos” 5000 radar, tasked on locking the target at long distance, and passing the info to a three-dimensional AN/SPS-39 radar which calculated the direction, distance altitude with precision, the data passed on the missile to setup its course. The Terrier’s own guidance systems guided the missing through electromagnetic emission to the target. On board operations of all armaments were managed in the Combat Operations Center, processing process data acquisition and coordination. The Terrier missile were stowed below the twin launcher aft, as in the Boston and Canberra, while subsequent cruisers later had horizontal chain reload systems. According to US practice, the stowage contained as much as 72 missiles, but probably less due to the reduced dimensions of the Italian cruiser compared to its USN counterpart.

Two rows of Polaris missile tubes were sunk into the deck abaft the Terrier magazine.

The Polaris missiles were another additions made during a partial reconstruction and modernization in 1966-67. All four silos were installed aft of the ship, close to the stern. These UGM-27 systems were the first SLBM fitted on USN Submarines, entering service in 1961 and also used by the British. It was a long range ballistic vector which usually could receive a nuclear warhead. Its first stage used an Aerojet General Solid-fuel rocket and the second stage a solid propellant Hercules rocket. Range was 2,500 nautical miles (4,600 km), enough to strike from the Aegean sea most cities in Ukraine and southern Russia. Its trajectory and speed of 8,000 mph (13,000 km/h) make it unstoppable. It also used thrust vectoring for corrections and accuracy was about 3,000 feet (910 m). This made the Garibaldi the only European surface ship fitted with such system. Details of their adoption is still classified, but it is agreed to be part of a US-led NATO program at the time to more largely distribute the Polaris, including onboard cruisers. Italy did not had any deterrence capability at the time, so basically the Polaris onboard the Garibaldi would have been re-equipped in emergency with nuclear warhead in case of war, “on loan” by US Forces in a nuclear war context. Their accuracy compared to the later Harpoon, was poor, so using conventional warheads would have made little sense. Nevertheless, their installation was made in parrallel to the installation in Italy of the Jupiter SLBMs, the Polaris being their sea-going equivalent, as a compensation for the retirement of Turkish missiles after the Cuban missile crisis.

New electronics

Radars and FCS on board the Garibaldi, aft view

The main onboard electronics on the cruiser took place between two large quadruple lattice masts, tailor built for the Garibaldi and reused on the Doria class cruisers. On the first of the two pylons at the top of the bridge-tower complex (reminiscent of the converted Boston class cruisers) was installed a three-dimensional frequency scanning air surveillance radar (FRESCAN) AN/SPS-39. It was commonly adopted on first NATO missile launchers and coupled with the Westinghouse AN/SPS-6 two-dimensional air-naval surveillance radar. Other platforms supported the SET-6B surface surveillance radar and SMA CFL3-C25 navigation radar. The second pylon aft of the funnel carried the large, domestic Selenia Argos 5000 aerial detection radar. Under favourable conditions, frequent in the Mediterranean, it could identify targets up to 500 miles.

The AN/SPS-39 FRESCAN was the only three-dimensional radar excluding the British Type 984 (much heavier, Victorious and Hermes CVs) and only such system in Europe. It used a single antenna to obtain the relative data at altitude, range and bearing or incoming aircraft and was equipped with lightweight electronic stabilizers ensuring stale operation regardless of the roll and pitch. The Westinghouse AN/SPS-6 radar had a range of 250 km and registered itself in a decisive turning point towards standardization and modernization of radars from 1954 in the Italian Navy. The Garibaldi embarked the system at the end of the transformation work. It was also carried by the Gabbiano class corvettes.
The top of the deckhouse aft supported two Sperry-RCA AN/SPG-55 lighting and guidance radars managing the twin Mk 9 Mod.1 launch Terrier launchers. It was stabilized on three axes and the firing control systems for guns was of domestic production, also by Selenia.

Forward electronics, radars and FCS on the rebuilt bridge as of 1961

Second career of the Garibaldi (1961-1972)

Garibaldi in 1960, right after her second modernization

At the end of her reconstruction, Garibaldi was recommissioned on November 3, 1961 and sailed to Taranto on February 5, 1962. By September 1962, she carried out a first series of tests in Italy, still without her electronic equipments and missiles. She was sent to the United States for to represent Italy and the final missile arrangements installations, including the guiding systems and radars, loading systems, followed by the completion of the training phase. In early November 1963 she moved to San Juan of Puerto Rico, started her missile launch tests in the waters of the Caribbean Sea. This started on 11 November 1962 and this was successful campaign. She returned to Italy on 23 December 1962, and the next year she was modified, lengthening her remaining funnel to prevent exhaust gases interfering with the new electronic equipment, also inclined and fitted with a remodelled funnel cap, conducting smoke aft. Full operational readiness combat flag was delivered in Naples on 10 June 1964, by the ANMI group of Rome to the commander, Captain Aldo Baldini, ceremony attended by the Commander in Chief Admiral Alessandro Michelagnoli and the Undersecretary of Defense, Natale Santero.

The Garibaldi served for ten years in the first phase of her deployment, as a command ship and flagship of the Italian Naval Squadron, participating in training and representation activities in the Mediterranean and abroad. Garibaldi (C551) would be replaced twenty-four years later by the light aircraft carrier of the same name and numeral, Giuseppe Garibaldi (C551). The Garibaldi was assigned to the 2nd naval group, 2nd Naval Division at Taranto and between the fall of 1964 and 1965 she underwent maintenance work. The massive aft Argos 5000 radar antenna was replaced by an upgraded smaller and and lighter model, notably in order to lessen wind resistance. Her base was built directly above the former armoured command tower. There was another maintenance period between 25 August 1966 and 20 April 1967, made at La Spezia. In this, the Microlambda SET-6B radar was replaced by the new MM/SPQ surface discovery and navigation radar which had a 50 km range and was produced in Italy. The quad foremast was modified, more compact and the support mast for the Terriers radar FCS were moved at the end of ​​the deckhouse, while wells for Polaris missiles were installed.

On June 4, 1968, Garibaldi took part in a naval parade in the Gulf of Naples for the 50th anniversary of the victory in World War I. This was the largest naval parade in Italy after ww2 and she hosted for the occasion the President of the Republic Saragat accompanied by the Minister of Defense Tremelloni, and Diplomatic Advisor Francesco Malfatti, military adviser Admiral Virgilio Spigai. The reception was hosted by the “Basso Tirreno” maritime department head for Naples, admiral Raffaele Barbera. The ship then proceeded to the parade under command of Captain Antonio Scialdone and Admiral Roselli Lorenzini.

Traditions and history: The Garibaldi crossing the schoolship Amerigo Vespucci off naples in 1968

The Garibaldi launching a Terrier, side view

The Garibaldi flew during the parade the presidential banner on her main flagpole, and sailed with San Giorgio off the gulf, proceeding towards Procida, Ischia and Capo Miseno, and close to the Vittorio Veneto as the latter was prepared to replace her as flagship in the future. This parade was a national event where most of the government and military officials of all branches were also present. It was followed nation-wide, retransmitted in real time by the RAI. Between 1968 and 1971, Garibaldi resumed her training exercises, but budget cuts decided of her fate as well as pending replacement by Veneto and an ageing weapons system. The Terria was a first-gen SAM and already replaced in the USN by the standard. There was no plan to rearm her with this system, which would have needed extensive modifications.

As a consequence the admiralty chose to program the Garibaldi’s decommission. She was disarmed on February 20, 1971, mostly officially based on budgetary restraints. In February 1970, a press conference was held on board the Garibaldi by the squadron C-in-C Admiral Gino Birindelli, denounced the Navy budget cuts and the state of a profound moral and material malaise for the staff in this ship. Birindelli’s declarations triggered many reactions in the political class but restrictions were maintained and the new Chief of Staff Admiral Virgilio Spigai was forced to withdraw the cruiser from service, justifying the decision as being the oldest in service and for maintenance costs, even ten years after her conversion. This went not well along a tense situation in the Mediterranean, following the Yom Kippur war and increasing Soviet presence. By November 1973, the new Chief of Staff of the Navy, Admiral Gino De Giorgi, published the “White Book of the Navy” in which he underlined the impossible commitments of Marina Militare in possible war scenarios in the region, and towards its obligation to NATO, due to massive budget cuts. The document however had some influence in the Naval Law of 1975 starting a substantial modernization of the fleet.

Author’s HD Illustration of the Garibaldi as completed in 1964

Many experts, in Italy and abroad, and inside NATO, esteemed the retirement of the ship after a costly and long modernization after just a decade of service was even compounded by the useless Polaris installation, also expensive; In good conditions, Giuseppe Garibaldi was however suitable to be used as a museum ship, given her great historical significance. She was indeed the first European missile cruiser and first surface ship worldwide equipped with ballistic missiles and had a lot of significance for the operational and logistic structures modernization of the modern Italian Navy. The Montecuccoli which was the first Italian cruiser to circumnavigate the globe was also at her time expected to be preserved. The well-trained crew of the Garibaldi would find its place nevertheless in the new helicopter/missile cruiser Vittorio Veneto, as new flagship of the fleet.
The Garibaldi was discarded on November 16, 1976 and by November 3, 1978 crossed under the Ponte Girevole and through the Taranto canal to reach La Spezia, for demolition work to proceed. It went on at the Cantieri del Tirreno in Genoa.

The Garibaldi in 1978, pending scrapping

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