Photos: Italian Forces Practice Response to Hostile Situation at Sea

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Recent incidents have yet again highlighted the importance of the elite military forces being prepared to manage situations that may arise with commercial shipping. Italian forces recently staged a joint exercise in the Mediterranean to once again practice and hone their skills for managing these situations.

Italy periodically stages these exercises in cooperation with merchant ships. It prepares its special forces for situations such as the 2023 situation when a vessel reported while underway the discovery of 15 stowaways. The forces boarded the ship by helicopter to apprehend the boarders and secure the ship following similar more hostile actions in the Gulf of Guinea where they responded to armed pirates boarding merchant ships.

In the most recent exercise, Grimaldi’s 18,855 dwt car carrier Grande Ellade simulated a suspicious event of illegal cargo while it was underway in the Mediterranean off the coast of Rhodes. The report went to the Italian Navy which involved the Multi-Domain Operation Center as well as the National Coast Guard operations center, and CONFITARMA (the Italian Confederation of Shipowners) as well as the shipowner.

Naval command after receiving the report dispatched the frigate Bergamini which is involved in the Safe Mediterranean operation. It was sent to conduct an inspection of the merchant ship. The vessel deployed its helicopter as well as a team from the San Marco Brigade, Italy’s elite amphibious unit of the Navy.


Forces monitor the situation as the small boat with the special force is alongside the ship


The team was sent to board the vessel during this exercise using a fast naval boat. Once aboard they conducted a sweep of the vessel and conducted a series of checks to verify the conformity of the documents and the cargo.  Ensuring that everything was in order aboard the vessel the team disembarked permitting the merchant ship to continue its voyage.

According to the Italian command, the exercise was aimed at controlling merchant traffic and combating illicit activities on the high seas. They practiced their coordination efforts and once again highlighted the high level of training and preparation of the military and civilians involved.




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