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Malta commissions OPV P71 into service

Malta's new OPV P71 was commissioned into service on 23 March. (Armed Forces of Malta)

The Maritime Squadron of the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) has commissioned its new offshore patrol vessel (OPV), P71 , into service.

P71 , which is the new flagship of the AFM, officially joined the fleet during a ceremony held at the AFM's Hay Wharf naval base in Floriana, Valetta, on 22 March.

The OPV was built by Italian shipbuilder Cantiere Navale Vittoria under a contract worth more than EUR50,000 (USD53,801) awarded in October 2018. The ship was co-financed by the European Union (EU) under the Internal Security Fund. It was laid down in 2019, launched in February 2021, and handed over to Malta in November 2022.

It will be used to conduct coastal and offshore surveillance operations and search-and-rescue missions in the Central Mediterranean region – most of which are related to illegal migration.

P71 is the largest vessel ever built by Cantiere Navale Vittoria and will be the largest ship to be operated by the AFM's Maritime Squadron. It has a full load displacement of 2,000 tonnes, an overall length of 74.8 m, and can carry a crew complement of 49, with accommodation for an additional 20 personnel.

The ship's propulsion is a hybrid configuration based on two Wärtsilä 5,440 kW diesel engines and two electrical motors on two shafts with controllable pitch propellers, enabling a top speed of 20 kt.

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