The Italian Coast Guard is part of the Italian Navy and operates under the auspices of Italy’s Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport. Headquartered in Rome, the Guardia Costiera’s missions include:
- Search and rescue
- Navigation safety
- Pleasure boat safety
- Marine and coastal environment safety
- Protection of underwater archaeological sites
- Administration of the merchant navy
- Sea fishing/marine environmental protection
Although Italy’s maritime history dates back centuries, the modern Italian Coast Guard was established on 8 June 1989 by ministerial decree. The anniversary of the Italian Coast Guard, however, is commemorated on 20 July in honor of the founding of the Harbour Masters Corps (a predecessor service) on 20 July 1865.
Today, the service is led by Vice Admiral (ITCG) Giovanni Pettorino. The 11,000 men and women of the Italian Coast Guard operate a fleet of platforms on land, on the sea, and in the air. More than 600 patrol vessels and small boats operate from 113 different ports across Italy. They perform the myriad of service missions and include more than 20 different classes of ships and boats.
The surface fleet is augmented by an air component consisting of Piaggio 180 Avanti II and ATR42 MP aircraft and AgustaWestland 139 helicopters. These aviation assets operate from air bases in Sarzana, Catania, and Pescara. The Italian Coast Guard also has an inventory of 912 vehicles and 63 motorcycles.
The Italian Coast Guard has a vast shore infrastructure. It operates the Admiral De Rubertis Educational & Training Unit. Founded in 1996, this unit is located in Genoa and provides real-world training for officers and petty officers in maritime and port security and the safety of navigation. More than 8,000 ships visit Genoa each year.
Located more than 1,100 km south of Genoa is the Messina Centre for Specialized Vessel Traffic Management Information Systems Training. This center was founded in November 2011 to ensure personnel at Italy’s Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) centers are trained and qualified in command systems and vessel traffic management. The Italian Coast Guard’s Naval Support Detachment also is located in Messina. The Naval Support Detachment is tasked with providing logistical and administrative support to Italian Coast Guard ships.
The U.S. and Italian Coast Guards have much in common, from shared missions such as search and rescue to a proud maritime heritage. Most important, both coast guards are committed to modernizing their fleets with offshore patrol vessels and other high-value units.