In recent years, the Italian Navy (Marina Militare) has been undergoing a significant naval unit renewal program aimed at replacing various types of ships. The most emblematic case is the construction of the new Trieste-class amphibious assault ship, which will take over from the soon-to-be-decommissioned aircraft carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi. However, the plans to renew the strategic and amphibious projection capabilities of the Italian Naval Force do not stop there, as the upcoming decommissioning of two San Giorgio-class LPD amphibious assault ships has also been listed.

Although still in a preliminary and prospective phase, various sources have indicated that contacts are being established to learn about the capabilities of this class of units, which the Argentine Navy does not currently possess in practice. These discussions are framed within the historical relations between both countries, as well as the defense cooperation promoted at various levels, including the maintenance and repair of the training ship Américo Vespucio at the Río Santiago Shipyard, which is nearing completion.

The need to recover a minimum amphibious capability:
It is not new that, for decades, the Argentine Navy has lacked an amphibious assault ship that would allow it to mobilize its naval aviation elements, grouped under the Naval Aviation Command and the Marine Corps. A palliative to this need was the conversion of the Type 42 destroyer ARA Hércules into a Multipurpose Rapid Transport. However, this never fulfilled the true requirement of the authorities to have a ship capable of transporting aircraft and personnel through the transport of amphibious vehicles, such as the LVTP, to cite one example. Additionally, to this situation is added the lack of operability of the ARA Hércules, which has already been confirmed to be decommissioned on a specific date.

Italian Navy ships:
As part of its naval renewal program, the Italian Navy confirmed years ago the decommissioning of the two oldest units of the San Giorgio class (comprising three units). These ships, with a displacement of almost eight thousand tons at full load, have become a true means of amphibious projection and support for the various requirements that Italy has had over the past decades.

The San Giorgio class consists of three amphibious assault ships built between 1984 and 2014 for the Italian Navy. To these were added one unit for Algeria and, more recently, with a widely updated version, for Qatar. Among its characteristics, its displacement of almost eight thousand tons, length of 133.3 meters, and beam of 20.5 meters stand out.

Specifically regarding its main function, it can transport 350 infantry personnel along with 30 vehicles of various types, such as the aforementioned LVTP. Although it does not have a hangar for aircraft, it has a flight deck from which light and medium helicopters of various types can operate.

Looking ahead to the future, and having confirmed plans to build two new ships of this type, the Italian Navy plans to decommission the two oldest units of the class soon: San Giorgio and San Marcos, which were commissioned in 1988.

An opportunity for the Argentine Navy?
The pressing financial and economic situation facing the Argentine Republic, coupled with a lack of political will, prevents any short-term naval fleet renewal plan from being projected. In the face of these vicissitudes, the experience observed in other naval forces at the regional level, such as Brazil and Chile, indicates that the acquisition of second-hand ships is an opportunity to recover or not lose capabilities.

However, one issue needs to be mentioned about these cases. While Brazil and Chile have incorporated ships of various classes and origins in recent years (such as the former HMS Ocean to the United Kingdom or the Adelaide-class frigates to Australia), these countries also have significant naval construction and renewal plans in parallel.

In the case of Brazil, the PROSUB Project and Tamandaré frigates, as well as a polar ship project, are listed, while in Chile, the construction of patrol vessels, the Admiral Viel polar ship, and the multipurpose vessels of the Escotillón IV Project are listed. The reality shows that the acquisition of second-hand units goes hand in hand with serious material renewal plans, where the purchase of ships decommissioned by other navies is a means and not an end in itself.

*Photographs used for illustrative purposes.

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