On board the Cavour aircraft carrier

On Nov. 9, during the Armed Forces Day celebrations (see also: November 4th 2008 – 90th Anniversary of the end of WWI) I went to Civitavecchia to visit the brand new Italian aircraft carrier Cavour.

Nave Cavour (550) was commissioned to Fincantieri on Nov 22, 2000. The ship sailed for the first time in December 2006 and was delivered to the Marina Militare (Italian Navy) on Mar. 27, 2008. The Cavour should enter the active service by the Summer 2009.

The new ship of the ItNavy, capable of hosting V/STOL (Vertical/Short Take Off and Landing) aircraft, was opened to everybody that wanted to “embark” in the large Italian unit to her first port visit to Civitavecchia (to the North West of Rome). The aircraft carrier was next to the Amerigo Vespucci, the famous tall ship of the Marina Militare based in Livorno and used for training purposes.

An interesting public tour brought all the visitors on the flight deck on the top/flag bridge (to visit the Primary Flight Control inside the “Tower”), and in the large hangar of 2,500 sqmt capable of recovering 12 helicopters or 8 AV-8B+ (or JSF in the future) or mix of the two types, where a static display of AB-212ASW, EH-101 and Harrier had been arranged. The hangar space can hold up to 24 main battle tanks (60 tons MBT Ariete) or 50 lighter vehicles (Landing Vehicle Transport Personnel LVTP 7, VCC 80 Dardo IFV) or 100 Iveco LMV.

The ship is huge: 244 meters long and 39 meter wide. The runway is 180 x 14 mt with a ski-jump of 12°. According to the official information published on the Marina Militare website there are 6 helicopeter ramps on the left side of the ship, 1 SAR ramp at bow and parking areas for 8 aircraft on the starboard side. The deck has two 30 tons elevators for aircraft and two 15 tons elevators for ammunitions. Cavour, whose displacement is 27,100 tons (13,850 was the displ. of the Garibaldi), can accomodate 1210 military. The maximum speed is 28 Kts, the range is 7,000 NM at 16 Kts (18 days of navigation). The unit can reach the Persian Gulf (from Taranto base some 3,300 NM) without any stop and using just the 50% of the embarked fuel.

All the following pictures were taken during the tour of the ship upon receiving authorization by the accompanying non-commissioned officer

The following panoramic image was created by Giovanni Maduli, basing on the pictures he took on Nov 8.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.