Italian Navy

The Italian Navy (Italian: Marina Militare, lit. "Military Navy"; abbreviated as MM) is the Navy of the Italian Republic. It is one of the four branches of Italian Armed Forces and was formed in 1946 from what remained of the Regia Marina (Royal Navy) after World War II. As of August 2014, the Italian Navy had a strength of 30,923 active personnel with approximately 184 vessels in service, including minor auxiliary vessels. It is considered a multiregional and a blue-water navy.[2][3][4]

Italian Navy
Marina Militare
(1861 as Regia Marina)
Country Italy
RoleNaval warfare
Size30,923 personnel
184 vessels (incl. minor auxiliaries)
70 aircraft[1]
Motto(s)Italian: Patria e Onore
"Country and Honour"
MarchLa Ritirata ("Ritirata" in Italian means the return of soldiers to their barrack, or in this case of sailors to their ship after a leave) by Tommaso Mario
AnniversariesJune 10 – Sinking of the Austro-Hungarian battleship SMS Szent István by Luigi Rizzo
Decorations1 Cavalier Cross of the Military Order of Savoy
3 Cavalier's Crosses of the Military Order of Italy
2 Gold Medals of Military Valor
1 Silver Medal of Military Valor
1 Gold Medal for Merited Public Honor
capo di stato maggiore della marina
(Chief of Staff of the Italian Navy)
ammiraglio di squadra
Giuseppe Cavo Dragone
sottocapo di stato maggiore della marina
Deputy Chief of Naval Staff
ammiraglio di squadra
Claudio Gaudiosi
Naval Aviation roundels
Naval ensign


Before and during World War II

The Regia Marina was formed on March 17, 1861, after the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy. The Italian Navy assumed its present name after the Italian monarchy was abolished following a popular referendum held on June 2, 1946.

After World War II

At the end of its five years involvement in World War II, Italy was a devastated nation. After the end of hostilities the Regia Marina, which at the beginning of the war was the fourth largest navy in the world with a mix of modernised and new battleships, started a long and complex rebuilding process. The important combat contributions of the Italian naval forces after the signing of the armistice with the Allies on September 8, 1943, and the subsequent cooperation agreement on September 23, 1943, left the Regia Marina in a poor condition, with much of its infrastructure and bases unusable and its ports mined and blocked by sunken ships. However, a large number of its naval units had survived the war, albeit in a low efficiency state, which was due to the conflict and the age of many vessels. The vessels that remained were:

  • 5 battleships
  • 10 cruisers
  • 10 destroyers
  • 20 frigates
  • 20 corvettes
  • 50 fast coastal patrol units
  • 50 minesweepers
  • 19 amphibious operations vessels
  • 5 school ships
  • 1 support ship and plane transport

The peace treaty

The peace treaty signed on February 10, 1947 in Paris was onerous for Regia Marina. Apart from territorial and material losses, also the following restrictions were imposed:

  • A ban on owning, building or experimenting with atomic weapons, self-propulsion projectiles or relative launchers, etc.
  • A ban on owning battleships, aircraft carriers, submarines and amphibious assault units.
  • A ban on operating military installations on the islands of Pantelleria, Pianosa and on the archipelago of Pelagie Islands.

The treaty also ordered Italy to put the following ships at the disposals of the victorious nations United States, Soviet Union, Great Britain, France, Greece, Yugoslavia and Albania as war compensation:

  • 3 Battleships: Giulio Cesare, Italia, Vittorio Veneto;
  • 5 Cruisers: Emanuele Filiberto Duca d'Aosta, Attilio Regolo, Scipione Africano, Eugenio di Savoia and Eritrea;
  • 7 Destroyers, 5 of the Soldati class and Augusto Riboty and Alfredo Oriani;
  • 6 Minesweepers: like Aliseo and Fortunale;
  • 8 Submarines: 3 of the Acciaio class;
  • 1 Sailing School ship: Cristoforo Colombo.

The entry into NATO

Great changes in the international political situation, which were developing into the Cold War, convinced the United Kingdom and United States to discontinue the transfer of Italy's capital ships as war reparations. Some had already been dismantled in La Spezia between 1948 and 1955, including the aircraft carrier Aquila. However, the Soviet Union demanded the surrender of the battleship Giulio Cesare and other naval units designated for transfer. The cruisers Attilio Regolo and Scipione Africano became the French Chateaurenault and Guichen, while Eugenio di Savoia became the Greek Elli. After break up and/or transfers, only a small part of the fleet remained to be recommissioned into the Marina. As Western attention turned to the Soviets and the Mediterranean Sea, Italian seas became one of the main sites of confrontation between the two superpowers, contributing to the re-emergence of Italy's naval importance thanks to her strategic geographical position.

With the new elections in 1946, the Kingdom of Italy became a Republic, and the Regia Marina took the name of Marina Militare (Military Navy). As the Marshall Plan began to rebuild Italy and Europe was rapidly being divided into two geopolitically antagonistic blocs, Italy began talks with the United States to guarantee adequate security considerations. The US government in Washington wished to keep its own installations on the Italian Peninsula and relaxed the Treaty restrictions by including Italy in the Mutual Defense Assistance Programme (MDAP). On April 4, 1949, Italy joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and, in order for the navy to contribute actively in the organization, the Treaty restrictions were definitively repealed by the end of 1951, with the consent of all of Western nations.

Within NATO, the Italian Navy was assigned combat control of the Adriatic Sea and Strait of Otranto, as well as the defence of the naval routes through the Tyrrhenian Sea. To ensure these tasks a "Studio sul potenziamento della Marina italiana in relazione al Patto Atlantico" (Study about the development of the Italian Navy with reference to the Atlantic Pact) was undertaken, which researched the structures and the methods for the development of the navy.

The ensign of the Italian Navy is the Italian tricolour defaced with the coat of arms of the Marina Militare. The quarters refer to the four Medieval Italian Thalassocracies, or "Maritime Republics" (Italian: Repubbliche Marinare):

The shield has a golden crown, that distinguishes military vessels from merchant: the crown, "corona rostrata", was proposed in 1939 by Admiral Domenico Cavagnari to the Government, as an acknowledgement of the Italian Navy's origin in Roman times. In the proposal, Adm. Cavagnari wrote that "in order to recall the common origin [of the Navy] from the Roman sailorship, the Insignia will be surmounted by the towered Crown with rostra, the emblem of honour and valour the Roman Senate awarded to the leaders of naval victories, conquerors of lands and cities across the seas".

A further difference is that St. Mark's lion, symbolising the Republic of Venice, does not hold the gospel in its paw (as it does on the civil ensign, where the book is open at the words "Pax tibi Marce, evangelista meus", meaning "Peace to you Mark, my Evangelist") and is wielding a sword instead: such an image is consistent with the pictorial tradition from Venetian history, in which the book is shown open during peacetime and closed during wartime.

Structure and organisation


In 2012 the Navy began a restructuring process that will see a 21% decrease in personnel by 2025. A new structure was implemented in January 2014.[5] The command structure is depicted below:[6]

Reporting to the Logistics Command is Maritime Command – divided into four areas who provide logistic support for their areas.[5]

PositionItalian titleRankIncumbent
Navy Chief of StaffCapo di Stato Maggiore della MarinaAmmiraglio di squadraGiuseppe Cavo Dragone
Navy Deputy Chief of StaffSottocapo di Stato Maggiore della MarinaAmmiraglio di squadraPaolo Treu[7]
Commander in Chief Naval Fleet (CINCNAV)Comandante in Capo della Squadra NavaleAmmiraglio di squadraDonato Marzano
Commander in Chief Logistics Command (MARICOMLOG)Comandante LogisticoAmmiraglio di squadraRaffaele Caruso[8]
Commander in Chief Schools Command (MARICOMSCUOLE)Comandante ScuoleAmmiraglio di squadraSalvatore Ruzittu[9]
Commander Maritime Command NorthComandante del Comando Marittimo NordL'ammiraglio di divisioneGiorgio Lazio[10]
Commander Maritime Command SouthComandante del Comando Marittimo SudL'ammiraglio di divisioneEduardo Serra[11][12]
Commander Maritime Command SicilyComandante del Comando Marittimo SiciliaL'ammiraglio di divisioneNicola De Felice[13]
Commander Maritime Command SardiniaComando Supporto Logistico della Marina a CagliariContrammiraglioFrancesco Sollitto[14][15]
COMSUBINComandante di ComsubinContrammiraglioPaolo Pezzuti

Coast Guard

The Corps of the Port Captaincies – Coast Guard (Italian language: Corpo delle Capitanerie di porto – Guardia costiera') is the coast guard of Italy and is part of the Italian Navy under the control of the Ministry of Infrastructures and Transports. In Italy, it is commonly known as simply the Guardia costiera. The Coast Guard has approximately 11 000 staff. [16]


The Italian Navy is divided into seven corps (by precedence) and one:

  • Corpo di stato maggiore – Corps of Staff Officers (SM) (line officers)
  • Corpo del genio navaleCorps of Naval Engineering (GN)
  • Corpo delle armi navali – Corps of the Naval Arms (AN)
  • Corpo sanitario militare marittimo – Maritime Military Medical Corps (MD) for medics; (FM) for Pharmacists
  • Corpo di commissariato militare marittimo – Corps of Military Maritime Commissariat (CM) (administration)
  • Corpo delle capitanerie di portoCorps of the Port Captaincies (CP) the coast guard
  • Corpo degli equipaggi militari marittimi – Corps of the Military Maritime Crews (CEMM)


Command of the Italian Fleet (ships, submarines and amphibious forces) and Naval aviation[17] falls under Commander in Chief Naval Fleet


Ships and submarines

Today's Italian Navy is a modern navy with ships of every type. The fleet is in continuous evolution, and as of today oceangoing fleet units include: 2 light aircraft carriers, 3 amphibious assault ships, 4 destroyers, 13 frigates and 8 attack submarines. Patrol and littoral warfare units include: 10 offshore patrol vessels. 10 mine countermeasure vessels, four coastal patrol boats, and a varied fleet of auxiliary ships are also in service.[18]

The flagship of the fleet is the carrier Cavour.


The Italian Navy operates a diverse fleet of aircraft including fixed-wing, rotary and UAVs.


The 2014 Naval Act allocated Euro 5.4 billion for the following vessels:[20]

The 2017 budget allocated 12.8 billion (2017–2032 years) for the following ships:

The 2018 budget allocated about 1 Billion Euros for:[24]

  • 2 x U212NFS attack submarines, for commissioning in 2025-2026, with two more on option to maintain a fleet of eight submarines


For the Naval Aviation the Navy plans to expand for replace the following assets:[21]

For the Marine Brigade "San Marco" the Navy plans to acquire following assets:[21]

Rank structure

Italian Navy ranks hierarchy
CategoryAdmiralsSenior officersJunior officersNaval

NATO CodeOF-10OF-9OF-8OF-7OF-6OF-5OF-4OF-3OF-2Subaltern officers

summer uniform

winter uniform
Italian rank name
ammiraglio di squadra1 ammiraglio di squadra con incarichi speciali
di squadra

ammiraglio ispettore
comandante di corpo

di divisione

di vascello

di fregata

di corvetta

primo tenente
di vascello

di vascello

di vascello

guardiamarina aspirante

English rank name translation Admiral Admiral (s.a.) Vice Admiral Admiral Inspector
Chief of Corps
Rear Admiral Upper Half Rear Admiral Lower Half Captain Commander Lieutenant Commander First Lieutenant Lieutenant Lieutenant Junior Grade Ensign Acting

1 The rank of "ammiraglio" (admiral) is assigned to the only naval officer promoted as chief of the defense staff.

2 The rank of "ammiraglio di squadra con incarichi speciali" (squadron admiral with special assignments) is assigned to the naval officer promoted as chief of the naval staff and/or as secretary of defense.

3 As Officer Designated, the rank of "aspirante guardiamarina" is comparable to the Royal Navy midshipman.

See also


  1. "LA MARINA MILITARE OGGI" (PDF). (in Italian).
  2. Todd, Daniel; Lindberg, Michael (May 14, 1996). "Navies and Shipbuilding Industries: The Strained Symbiosis". Greenwood Publishing Group. Retrieved May 14, 2018 via Google Books.
  3. Till, Geoffrey (August 2, 2004). Seapower: A Guide for the Twenty-First Century. London: Routledge. pp. 113–120. ISBN 9781135756789. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  4. Coffey, Joseph I. (1989). The Atlantic Alliance and the Middle East. United States: University of Pittsburgh Press. p. 89. ISBN 9780822911548. Retrieved November 30, 2015.
  5. "Organizzazione". Italian Navy. Retrieved September 1, 2016.
  6. "Organization Chart of the Italian Navy" (PDF). Italian Navy. Retrieved August 15, 2016.
  8. "Napoli, cambio al vertice del Comando Logistico della Marina". Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  9. "Il Comandante - Marina Militare". Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  10. "Il Comandante - Marina Militare". Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  11. "Comandante del Comando Marittimo Sud - Marina Militare". Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  12. "Marina Militare, cambio al vertice Le foto". Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  13. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 27, 2015. Retrieved January 19, 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. "Cambio Comando supporto logistico Marina - Sardegna". July 29, 2016. Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  15. "Ammiraglio Comandante - Marina Militare". Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  16. "Coast Guard – Port Authorities". Italian Navy. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  17. "The Present Aviation - Marina Militare". Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  18. "The Fleet - Marina Militare". Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  19. "European Multi Mission Frigates - Marina Militare". Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  20. "Naval Program 2014 - Marina Militare". Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  21. "Linee di indirizzo strategico 2019-2034" (PDF). Marina Militare. Stato Maggiore della Marina. Retrieved November 11, 2019.
  22. "Fincantieri - Logistic Support Ships". Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  23. "Fincantieri - Hydrographic Survey Vessel". Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  24. "Pinotti: «L'Italia avrà altri due sommergibili» - The Medi Telegraph". Retrieved May 14, 2018.
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