Port Security, Coastal Patrol, & Maritime Defence – July 2004
Middle-Power Approaches to Maritime Security – Italy
Excerpts from a Senate Committee on National Security and Defence report.
The Honorable Colin Kenny, Chair
The Italian Approach to Maritime Security
Coastline Length: 9,225.8 km
Dimensions of Exclusive Fishing Zone (EFZ): 200 nautical miles / 155,629 km2
[claiming rights to all
living resources within 200 nm/370 km of the Italian coast.]
Organizations Responsible for Maritime Security:
1) the Italian Coast Guard [the Guardia Costiera Italiana]
2) the Italian Customs Service [the Guardia di Finanzia]
3) the Italian Federal Police [the Carabinieri Marine Units]
4) the Italian Navy [MM – the Marina Militare Italiana]
Guardia Costiera: the Italian Coast Guard
The Guardia Costiera was created in 1989 and comes under the Capitanerie di Porto (Captain of Port
Authorities), which is part of the Marina Militare (see below). The organization is divided into two
sections, one working with the Ministry of Defence, and the other section working with the Ministry of
Infrastructure and Transportation and the Ministry of Fishing.
The Guardia Costiera central command section is divided into 7 departments: personnel, legal
affairs, operations and plans, naval and air vehicles, logistics, navigation safety, and, informatics and
advance technology service. The central section also co-ordinates the activities of the Operation Centre of the
Ministry of Infrastructure and Transportation.
The Guardia Costiera's Mediterranean Sea tasks are run out of the Operation Centre. The Centre
provides an immediate response to emergencies on territorial and international waters 24 hours a day, seven
days a week. It is also the site of the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (IMRCC), which is
responsible for the organization and coordination of search and rescue.
The Guardia Costiera operates a maritime unit with the Ministry of Environment and another maritime
unit with the Ministry of Fishing. In addition, the Guardia Costiera cooperates with the
Carabinieri, Italy's paramilitary police force (see below).
The Guardia Costiera also has a land-based section that includes 13 Maritime Directors, 50 harbour
offices (left), 45 maritime support offices, 138 local maritime offices, 131 Safe Beach units, 3
squadrons of aircraft, 1 squadron of helicopters, 4 air bases, 1 satellite-tracking station, 2 radio stations
(LORAN C), and 2 diving units.
The Guardia Costiera has approximately 10,000 personnel. Its 391 ships vary in size, and are stationed
at 118 bases throughout Italy. Among its vessels is the Saettia (right) a state-of-the-art 52m cutter,
commissioned on 20 July 1999 – 134th anniversary of the establishment of the Capitanerie di
The Guardia Costiera's Flight Service possesses 12 Piaggio P166 DL3 (top, left)
fixed-wing light aircraft used for medevac, search- and-rescue [since joined by the larger ATR 42 MP aircraft ], and remote-sensing services
operations. Flight Service's rotary-wing component consists of four Agusta-Bell AB 412 Grifone
helicopters (left) for search-and-rescue and medical evacuations.
Italian Customs Service – the Guardia di Finanza (GdiF)
Within the Guardia di Finanza (GdiF) is a paramilitary force with some 60,000 personnel. This
force operates a fleet of 336 vessels – the largest being 50m in length. This GdiF
force also has a fleet of aircraft which consists of 10 Piaggio PD-166S (right) and 2 ATR-42
aircraft, plus 18
Agusta A 109, 12 AB 412, and about 60 MD/Nardi NH500 MC helicopters.
Federal Police – the Carabinieri
Italy's famed Carabinieri are a paramilitary police force coming under federal control (
Carabinieri answer to the Ministry of Defence, more akin to Spain's Gardia Civil than
Canada's RCMP). The 105,000-strong Carabinieri shares control of the coast with the Guardia
Costiera. For jurisdiction enforcement along Italy's coast, the Carabineri operate a
fleet of helicopters and 164 patrol boats.
Marine Militaire – the Italian Navy
In addition to the 10,000 personnel (and 391 ships) of the Guardia Costiera, the parent Marine
Militaire has a further 38,000 personnel and a variety of vessels including carriers, submarines, frigates,
destroyers, corvettes, and patrol boats.