Frigate to deploy with USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in Mediterranean this fall, Italian officials say
Stars and Stripes September 27, 2023
NAPLES, Italy — One of Italy’s stealthiest and most powerful warships is preparing to deploy this fall with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group in the Mediterranean Sea, Italian navy officials said.
The Carlo Bergamini-class frigate ITS Virginio Fasan first will join the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group already on patrol in the Mediterranean in the next couple of weeks, Cmdr. Alessandro Consoli, commanding officer of Fasan, said Friday.
The frigate will then deploy with the Eisenhower group when it arrives in the region, said Consoli, who did not indicate exactly when that would occur.
The U.S. Navy hasn’t formally announced what carrier would relieve the Ford, which has been on duty mostly in the Mediterranean in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility since May.
Such deployments typically range from six to nine months. Sixth Fleet received but did not answer questions Tuesday about Eisenhower’s potential deployment.
But Fasan joined Eisenhower in a 24-day training exercise to certify the carrier for deployment, the Navy said in a July 25 statement.
Last month, Eisenhower trained as if it were off the coast of Italy during Large Scale Exercise, global drills that included 25,000 sailors and Marines, Breaking Defense reported at the time.
If deployed to 6th Fleet, Eisenhower would be the fourth carrier sent to the region since December 2021, when Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered USS Harry S. Truman to remain in the Mediterranean as Russia massed troops and advanced weaponry along the eastern, northern and southern borders of Ukraine.
Austin extended that directive in April 2022, following Russia’s full-scale invasion on Feb. 24 of that year. The aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush relieved Truman the following August.
Fasan also has operated with Bush during its deployment in the Mediterranean, the Navy said in its July statement.
The frigate, which has a crew of about 141 and can embark two helicopters, operated in Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 from February to March 2021, according to an Italian navy handout.
Fasan is the first of its class designed with stealth capabilities that greatly reduce its infrared and radar presence. The ship also carries a multifunctional active radar, passive and active sonar scanners and a towed radar system, according to the handout.
Its armament includes two anti-surface and anti-air guns, two machine guns, an anti-air missile system with Aster 15 and Aster 30 missiles and two torpedo launchers.
In all, the Italian navy has seven of the frigates, which were designed in collaboration with France. Some of the frigates, like the Fasan, are anti-submarine warfare variants.
The ships were made by the Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, a division of which also is building the Navy’s Constellation-class frigates.
Construction on the first of those ships, the $1.3 billion Constellation, started in August 2022.