On July 20, the Aircraft Carrier ‘Cavour’ entered the Edgardo Ferrati drydock at the Italian Navy Arsenal at Taranto. The entry of the aircraft carrier into one of the largest military masonry dockyards in Europe represents the 'turning point' in the conduct of maintenance and modernization work which, after ten years of service, will also allow the ship to adapt to the standards required for the F-35B aircraft, which will ultimately replace the current fleet of AV-8B Harrier combat aircraft operated by the Italian Navy’s carrier air group.
On board was the Commander in Chief of the Navy Fleet, Admiral Donato Marzano. Displacing 27,000 tonnes, ‘Cavour’ is the largest ship to enter the ‘Edgardo Ferrati’ since World War Two.
The Italian Navy’s flagship, the aircraft carrier ‘Cavour,’ enters the drydock at Taranto Naval Arsenal, one of the oldest masonry drydocks in Europe, for a 9-month refit to prepare her for her future F-35B air wing. (Italian Navy video)
The delicate maneuvers, from the ship’s entry into the drydock to her positioning and to the emptying of the drydock, lasted about 17 hours and involved, in addition to the ship’s crew, the military and civilian personnel of the Naval Arsenal of Taranto.
Beginning at 6 a.m., the operation was conducted in two stages: first, during the morning, the carrier entered the basin, while in the afternoon she was positioned by the Arsenale staff before emptying the basin. The combat divers of the Taranto-based S.D.A.I group (Sminazione Difesa Antimezzi Insidiosi, or demining and defense against insidious threats) also contributed to the safety of the ship.
Over the coming months, some of the most important technical modifications will be carried out on board the carrier, including the careening of the hull and the metallic reinforcement of the flight deck, necessary to limit the thermodynamic impact of the new aircraft.
The Cavour maintenance and adaptation work represents the best potential of the production capacity of the Taranto dockyard, and are experimenting to develop the synergy between the Arsenale naval dockyard, national industry (Fincantieri and Leonardo) and small and medium enterprises, coordinated by the technical offices of the Navy.
At the end of the overhaul work, scheduled for the spring of 2020, the ‘Cavour’ will go through a preparatory training period before she sails to the United States in the summer to conduct trials her future F-35B aircraft on board.
These activities will represent the first important steps to achieve the initial operational capability (IOC) of the aircraft carrier with her new air group.