Operation Gabinia: the "Commander Borsini" stops in Gabon

(To Antonino Lombardi)

The ship "Commander Borsini"1 stopped in Gabon in an event that represents the close friendship and collaboration between Rome and Libreville in the fight against piracy raging in the Gulf of Guinea.

The Italian ambassador in Gabon, Dr. Gabriele DiMuzio2, accompanied the representative of the Gabonese Defense Minister, General Jude Ibrahim Rapontchombo, and the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Gabonese Navy, adm. Roland Tombot Mayila, visiting the helicopter carrier, greeted by Commander Corso.

The "Gabinia" mission takes its name from a Roman law (Lex Gabinia3) of 67 BC which concentrated in the hands of a single man, Pompeo Magno, wide and strong powers in order to eradicate the pirates who had been raging unchallenged in the Mediterranean Sea for several decades. The operation in the Gulf of Guinea is aimed at the surveillance and protection of "national interests and the safety of maritime routes, but also cooperation with the navies of coastal countries to increase mutual understanding and trust and to contribute to the improvement of the security situation in the region"4.

The phenomenon of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea differs from that of the Pacific Ocean due to its greater brutality and violence in the attacks on merchant ships. That portion of the Atlantic Ocean, one of the most dangerous stretches of sea in the world5, is of crucial importance for Italy as it is closely connected to the Mediterranean Sea and considered a sea access route to it. The European Union's "Gabinia" mission, born in 2020 and fully operational since January 2021, has led to an 80% reduction in attacks against commercial ships.

The ship Commander Borsini was launched on 17 February 2001 and is the second of the 4 units that make up the "Comandanti" class. She is armed with an Oto-Breda 76/62 Super Rapido cannon and 2 OTO Breda-Oerlikon KBA 25/80 machine guns which guarantee speed and accuracy in close-range shooting to protect the ship. She has a length of 88,6 meters and a width of 10,2m. The engine consists of 2 diesel Grandi Motori Trieste-Wärtsilä-NSD W18-V-26 XN and can develop a power of 12960 kW and reach a speed of 25 kts. The patrol vessel can embark an AB212 or NH90 model helicopter. There is also medical equipment on board for African hospitals identified in collaboration with the Italian diplomatic authorities on site.

Given its characteristics, the Commander Borsini it constitutes the surface mobile element of a small/large size air-naval surveillance device having multiple tasks in the field of defense and safeguard of the national territory. The design of the hull and superstructures are such as to allow the reduction of thermal and electromagnetic signatures ("stealth" concept) which allow its use in various operational contexts. He has supported various activities including merchant traffic control, anti-piracy missions, search and rescue as well as training and education for Navy personnel.

The boat is designed for medium range activities with the possibility of survival of ten days without refueling. Its port of assignment is Augusta.

1 Offshore class patrol vessel Commanders (PGH). The new offshore patrol vessels were named after destroyer commanders decorated with a Gold Medal of Military Valor for exploits in World War II. In addition to the "Borsini" the other three are: "Cigala Fulgosi", "Bettica" and "Foscari".

2 Born in Popoli (PE) in 1964, he began his diplomatic career in 1993. He served in the United Nations office of the Directorate General for Development Cooperation of the MAECI, in 1996 he was second secretary at the Permanent Representation of Italy to the United Nations in Vienna. Subsequently, in 2000, he was sent to Uganda and in 2003 he was appointed head of the Africa office at the MAECI's general directorate for development cooperation, with responsibility for sub-Saharan Africa. From 2007 to 2012 he served first in Mozambique and then in South Africa. He has been ambassador to Gabon since 29 October 2018. Source www.esteri.it .

3 From the name of the proponent tribune of the plebs Aulus Gabinius. She is also known as Lex de piratis persequendis.


5 According to data from the International Maritime Bureau, 2019 piracy attacks occurred in 121

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