Written by D-Mitch
|Vittorio Veneto, the last cruiser of Italian Navy|
Some years after the commissioning of the two helicopter cruisers of Andrea Doria class, the Italian Navy ordered an enlarged version of a helicopter cruiser. The new 180-meter cruiser received the name Vittorio Veneto (C550) and she entered in service with the Italian Navy in 1969. A second ship of the same design, the Italia, was cancelled. Instead, Italy proceeded later in the construction of Giuseppe Garibaldi light aircraft carrier, an aircraft carrying cruiser as it was classified in the early years of its service. Vittorio Veneto had a similar layout as the smaller Andrea Doria class helicopter cruisers, but with two elevators in the large (40x18.5-metre) flight deck and the hangar positioned below the flight deck. The ship was built from the keel up as guided missile cruiser forward and helicopter carrier aft. Unlike the Andrea Doria class ships, Vittorio Veneto had two combination mast/funnels, rather than separate funnels like the ships of the Andrea Doria class. Vittorio Veneto was a fast ship especially for her size as she was propelled by two steam turbines providing 73,000 shp, for a maximum speed of 32 knots. Similarly to Andrea Doria class vessels, she had a sets of stabilizing fins to improve stability for helicopter operations.
The new Italian helicopter cruiser could carry up to nine (9) AB 204 (later the more modern AB212) helicopters or six (6) ASH-3H Sea King helicopters in comparison with four (4) and two (2) respectively for the Andrea Doria class ships. All nine AB212 helicopters could be accommodated in the spacious hangar (27.4m x 15.2m) but this was not the case for the larger Sea King helicopters which had to stay on the flight deck.
|Sea King helicopter aboard C550 Vittorio Veneto (after the modernization)|
|Vittorio Veneto prior the modernization|
|Vittorio Veneto prior the modernization.|
|Vittorio Veneto prior her modernization with four AB204 helicopters aboard.|
Vittorio Veneto after the modernization with all of her Otomat SSM and two
AB212 helicopters aboard. Photo: Chris Howell
With her AN/SQS-23 sonar, the two triple torpedo launchers, the ASROC missiles that could be fired also from the Terrier launcher and the most important with the nine ASW helicopters that the ship was carrying, this cruiser was definitely one of the best ships in the ASW operations. Vittorio Veneto, was also "fitted for but not with" four Polaris missile launchers. During refit periods in 1980-1983, these facilities were removed and used for other weapons and systems.
|Click to enlarge and save the image to view the details: Vittorio Veneto helicopter cruiser of Italian Navy. |
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|Close-up infographic of Vittorio Veneto helicopter cruiser of the Italian Navy. For a high resolution image click here.|
|Front view of Vittorio VenetoPhoto: S.C. Cagliari|
In the early '80s, Vittorio Veneto received an extensive modernization on her electronic equipment and weapon systems. Three twin 40mm gun turrets were added, one forward and two aft, placed on either side of the hangar to strengthen ship's anti-aircraft / missile short-range defensive ability (CIWS), together with their fire control radars. The three twin gun turrets in addition to the eight 76mm guns brought to a total of 14 guns! In addition to that, four single launchers where installed amidships for the Teseo anti-ship missiles. The AB212 could provide mid-course guidance for the Otomat anti-ship missiles. The Mk10 launcher was upgraded, the Terrier missiles were removed and replaced by 40 SM-1ER (Extended Range) SAM and 20 anti-submarine rockets (ASROC) and at the same time the missile fire control radars were also upgraded. The ship, after these several upgrades could perform any kind of role given with great success.
|View from the flightdeck|
|Front view of the vessel|
|Vittorio Veneto fully armed|
|Vittorio Veneto in Sevastopol (2003)|
Photo: Vitaliy Kostrichenko
|Front view of the cruiser|
|Vittoio Veneto, flagship of Italian Navy|
|Vittorio Veneto (C550) helicopter cruiser with her unique layout|