Testing the Flexible Capabilities of the Italian Navy Minesweepers In the Gulf of Taranto
(Source: Italian Navy; issued February 23, 2016)
An operation for the recovery of submerged objects lying on the sea bottom has just been successfully completed in the waters of the Gulf of Taranto. Though being a routine activity for the Italian Navy minesweepers, this operation was exceptional because of the depths of underwater interventions, the size of objects recovered, and the synergistic cooperation with a private company specialized in design and manufacture of underwater vehicles.

Minesweepers ITS Vieste and ITS Chioggia have been deployed in the Gulf of Taranto for seabed mapping using a Hugin 1000 vehicle, in search of an object of interest lying on the seafloor at a depth of over 1,000 metres.

Once detected and identified, thanks to the image acquisition capabilities of the AUV embarked on ITS Vieste, the object has been recovered. This phase of the operation was implemented in synergy with Gay Marine, a specialised company which has been deploying - for the first time with the Italian Navy - the "Pluto Palla" ROV (embarked on ITS Chioggia, and operated by Dr. Guido Gay himself).

This operation once again showed the excellent dual capabilities of the Italian Navy minesweepers using autonomous underwater vehicles for the localization, identification, photo- and video-recording of small-size objects, even much smaller then mines and at great depth. Minesweepers can also be employed for recovery operations. High design adaptability and flexibility enable these units to be fitted out with new or additional modules without structural changes.

Over time these special dual capabilities have ever-increasingly enabled several cooperation opportunities with the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, the judiciary and other government agencies, for the performance of a great variety of activities of common interest, including deep sea exploration for the location and recovery of ship or aircraft wrecks, archaeologic finds or any other object lying on the sea bottom, as was the case with Battleship Roma.

Moreover, with a view to protect and preserve marine ecosystems, large-scale partnership activities are conducted in cooperation with universities and the Directorate General for Safety of Mining and Energy Activities - National Mining Office for Hydrocarbons and Georesources of the Ministry of Economic Development.

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