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  • These vessels are chiefly designed for civil use: seabed mapping, production of nautical charts, navigation security and climate change research
  • The two smaller vessels will be deployed mostly in the Mediterranean Sea whilst the biggest one will also be used in the world’s oceans and in the Arctic regions
  • This €220 million loan to the Italian Ministry of Defence enjoys favourable conditions accorded by the bank of the European Union

The Italian Ministry of Defence has now joined the list of beneficiaries of the EU bank’s financing. This innovative EU financing operation totalling €220 million was signed between the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) and the Ministry of Defence to support the construction of three navy vessels, which will be used by the Italian Navy’s Hydrographic Institute (IIM) based in Genoa.

The project concerns the construction of one big and two smaller vessels, which will replace those currently in service (Magnaghi, Aretusa and Galatea) that have reached or will soon reach the end of their operating life. These three vessels will carry out mostly public service activities: climate research in the marine environment and navigation security through seabed mapping needed to produce official nautical charts for Italy’s sea regions.

The largest of the three vessels will be used particularly for hydrographic and oceanographic research in the Mediterranean Sea, the world’s oceans and the Arctic and Antarctic regions. The two smaller vessels are essentially intended to be deployed in the Mediterranean Sea. These three vessels will be built between 2021 and 2027.

The project will significantly support the EIB’s prime objectives of innovation and climate action and contribute to achieving several goals of the European Union. The oceanographic data gathered by the vessels are a key component of the models that contribute to understanding climate change and drive the decisions undertaken to mitigate the impact of climate change.

In financial terms, the operation involves a loan agreement between the EIB and MEF and a “project agreement” between the EIB and the Ministry of Defence. The term of the loan is 25 years, in line with the economic life of the vessels. For the Italian government, the EIB loans are doubly beneficial: longer maturities and lower interest rates thanks to the fact that the Bank raises funds on the international capital markets via AAA-rated bonds.

Protecting the environment is one of the pillars of the EIB’s financing activity – as the climate bank we are delighted to be able to support the Ministry of Defence in this civil sector project. Water covers 70% of the planet and the study of oceans and seas provides critical information in order to be able to adopt the appropriate decisions to curb the negative effects of climate change”, said EIB Vice-President Dario Scannapieco.

“This positive initiative combines research in an important sector for Italy and for the international community as a whole – the environment and the sea – with industrial development thanks to financial instruments made available by the European Union. This agreement marks the first step on the road to future collaborations in support of the Ministry of Defence’s innovation programmes”, said Minister of Defence Lorenzo Guerini.

Once they have been built, these vessels will be assigned to the Navy’s Hydrographic and Test Squadron (Comsquaidro) and deployed to help carry out surveys updating the State’s official maps – which will enhance navigation security and increase knowledge of the country’s marine environment.

These research activities, conducted in coordination with the Italian Navy’s Hydrographic Institute, involve around 200 military personnel specialising in oceanography working on hydrographic vessels equipped with state-of-the-art instruments.