ITS Francesco Morosini, Italian Navy’s Multipurpose Offshore Patrol Vessel, arrived in Mumbai on Thursday for a port-call as part of a world tour that will see the patrolling vessel engage in a five-month-long deployment in the Indo-Pacific area.
According to the officers on board the vessel, the patrolling vessel is slated to be stationed at Mumbai Port Trust until September.
This is the first Italian vessel to arrive in India since the 2012 incident wherein two Italian marines on board oil tanker Enrica Lexie gunned down two Indian fishermen returning from a fishing expedition near Lakshadweep islands on board fishing vessel St Antony on February 15, 2012. The incident occurred around 20 nautical miles off the coast of Kerala. Shortly after the incident, the Indian Coast Guard intercepted Enrica Lexie and detained the two Italian marines— Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre.
In 2021, the apex court had closed all the criminal proceedings initiated in India against the two Italian marines, who were accused of killing two fishermen in the incident, after an amount of Rs 10 crore was paid in compensation by the Italian government to the heirs of the deceased and the boat owner.
Ambassador of Italy to India, Vincenzo de Luca said the two countries will be signing a MoU on defence in the coming months. Vincenzo de Luca said, “We had already signed an MoU some years ago. In the coming months, India and Italy will be signing another MoU on defence, renewing the old one, to allow further collaboration on defence related developments. We have contributed successfully in India’s G20 presidency in many aspects. We will now take our partnership forward through further collaboration in defence, hydrospace and cyber security.”
“This is a historic visit. After a long time, the Italian Navy has come back to India”, he told the reporters on Thursday.
Sailing through the South China sea, the naval vessel made port calls in several countries including Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam, Philippines among others, before arriving in India. The ship is slated to make its next port call in Oman.
Commissioned in October 2022, ITS Francesco Morosini is the second of the seven Multipurpose Offshore Patrol Vessels, which has been deployed in the Indo Pacific region on a five-month-long tour, amid the rising significance of the region.
Among its many features, Commanding Officer of the vessel, Giovanni Monno said the fly deck can accommodate two helicopters which are used for medical emergencies. Currently, one helicopter is perched atop the deck of the vessel.