The second multifunctional Fremm Bergamini frigate is about to reach Egypt. Part of an €11 billion arms package involving patrol vessels and destroyers, the Emilio Bianchi (initially destined for the Italian Navy) left La Spezia to follow in the wake of the Spartaco Schergat, which arrived in Alexandria on December 31.
Like its sister ship, this frigate has been renamed by the Egyptian regime: the first one is now called al-Galala, the name of the mountains near Suez, the setting one of the mega infrastructural projects wanted by President al-Sisi and implemented by companies belonging to the armed forces. The second ship will be named Bernees, a port on the Red Sea at the center of a renewal and enlargement plan dating back to the immediate post-Mubarak period.
The second vessel’s departure was denounced by Rete Italiana Pace e Disarmo, which, together with Amnesty International, reported on the final operations on April 9: “According to leaks received by our organizations, the ship should complete the boarding of armaments today (April 9). Scheduled for tomorrow is the final moment of delivery to the armed forces of al-Sisi, after the change of flag ceremony occurred a few hours ago.” The frigate is ready to go: in February, it went out to sea for final testing and training of the Egyptian military crew.
The new Italian government is thus not taking any step back from a deal that is not really a good one after all, according to the Presa Diretta investigation: Italy paid €1.2 billion for the ships but resold them for €990 million, not counting the costs of removing NATO security systems.
Not to mention—but here, the issue is a political one—the violation of Law 185/1990, given that the sale never passed through Parliament and that Egypt is a country that violates human rights.
For the Italian military industry, however, one can’t really speak of a loss: Cairo is reportedly in negotiations with Fincantieri for logistical support and spare parts for the two frigates.