Audace-class destroyer

The Audace-class destroyers were two guided missile destroyers built for the Italian Navy during the Cold War. An improvement of the Impavido class, these ships were designed for area air defence and also had a heavy gun armament. They were fitted with contemporary American radars and sonars, but also, as the next Italian ships, all the modern weapons made by Italian industry of the time, such torpedoes, helicopters and guns. Also some indigenous radars were fitted.

Cacciatorpediniere Ardito e Audace in disarmo
Ardito and Audace at La Spezia
Class overview
Name: Audace class
Operators:  Marina Militare
Preceded by: Impavido class
Succeeded by: Durand de la Penne class
Built: 1968–1971
In commission: 2 October 1971–28 September 2006
Planned: 2
Completed: 2
Retired: 2
General characteristics
Type: Destroyer
Displacement: 4,554 tons full load
Length: 140.7 m (461 ft 7 in)
Beam: 14.7 m (48 ft 3 in)
Draught: 4.5 m (14 ft 9 in)
  • 2-shaft geared steam turbines
  • 4 × Foster Wheeler boilers providing 73,000 hp (54,000 kW)
Speed: 33 knots (61 km/h; 38 mph)
Range: 4,000 nmi (7,400 km; 4,600 mi) at 25 kn (46 km/h; 29 mph)
Complement: 380
Aircraft carried: 2 AB-212ASW helicopters


The design of these ships was related to the previous Impavido class, but they were meant as a decisive improvement over these older vessels. They hull was more capable to resist high sea conditions, incorporating an aft superstructure used to accommodating two AB-212 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters. This gave the vessels an ASW capability, with improved sonars and torpedo tubes.

The superstructures were built with aluminium alloys in two blocks with one mack (this is the combination with the funnels supporting metallic, short trees used for radar equipment) each. The distance between the two superstructure blocks was high, as both the propulsion systems were located at midships and over this, the 76 mm gun battery. The aft superstructure was dedicated to the Tartar/SM-1 missiles and hangar.

The propulsion had a two steam-turbine system powered by four Foster Wheeler boilers providing 73,000 hp, driving two shafts. It gave the vessels a speed of 33 knots (61 km/h; 38 mph) and endurance of 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 km; 4,600 mi) at 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph) .


With this new design, in order to perform ASW tasks, the Marina Militare opted for A.184 wired torpedoes instead of the ASROC missile. Though the new weapon had limited performance (roughly 10–12 km/36 knots, 24 km/24knts) being a conventional electrical torpedo, it was one of the better models of its time and was modernized with several updates. It was also one of the first to have both ASW and AS capabilities, while in the 1970s many torpedoes were built to have one or the other capability, lacking wire-guidance or homing sonar guidance. Twelve examples were on board, just as many as the smaller light torpedoes A.244 or Mk46 models with triple ILAS-3 launchers. A.244 had better shallow-waters capabilities, but they were limited in performances to Mk.44 level. Mk.46 torpedoes were better suited to attack depth and fast targets.

The gunnery armament consisted of 6 guns of new generation, fully automatic and with high rate of fire: two Compact, 127mm guns (foredeck) in single mounts, capable of firing at least 40 shells/minute, while (in substitution of unsatisfactory Model MM guns) new 76mm Compact were placed mid-ship. Despite weighing only 7 tons, they had enough firepower: 80 c.min, with 85 ready ammunition under the deck in a rapid reloading system similar, as example, to the T-72 or T-80 gun reloading systems. Together with the 127 mm and the main air-defence system (Tartar/SM-1), all this weaponry made possible an effective air defence, both long range and close-in.


Aft there was the hangar for two AB212ASW, medium helicopters modified by Agusta to perform naval roles, such as anti-submarine tasks, search and rescue, anti-ship search and attack (with small AS-12 missiles). These helicopters were large, comparable to the Westland Lynx, and so, the hangar left limited space to the SM-1/Tartar depots for the Mk 13 launcher. The helicopters were second in importance only to the SM-1 missile systems, because torpedoes and guns were mainly useful for close defence of the ship. The Audaces were meant to carry an effective area-defence surface-to-air missile and helicopters, while guns and torpedoes were short range defence systems.


The Audaces were equipped with several electronic systems. They had an SPS-52 3-D radar, in the aft 'mack', a US model that monitored the air space measuring also altitude, up to 300 kilometres (190 mi); and a RAN20S, 2-D radar on the fore mack, an Italian model coupled with the other long range radar. The combination of two radars, one 3-D and the other 2-D was normal for a ship equipped with the Standard missile. The destroyers also had a single SPQ-2 radar for low-altitude air and surface search, and a 3M20 navigation radar placed in the fore mack. Both served for surface and low level aircraft detection.

For fire control the vessels were mounted with two SPG-51 illumination radars for the SM-1/Tartar placed in the aft superstructure, three RTN-10x employed for gun control, one over the turrion, the other two midship in the aft superstructure to serve the 76 mm guns.

For anti-submarine warfare they had a CWE610 hull sonar mounted. For ship defence, a pair of SCLAR rocket launcher for decoys were fitted. They were also capable to fire HE rockets if necessary. They had several others systems, for ECM and communications and a SADOC-1 combat and communication system, similar to NTDS.

Despite the improvements in anti-aircraft warfare and in the ASW capability, there were still limitation and shortcomings in this new vessel design.

The weaponry lacked a specific anti-ship missiles system, except the AS-12. Within short range, however, there were many systems able to engage naval targets: A.184, two 127mm and four 76mm guns, the Tartar/SM-1MR missiles in their second role (like many naval SAMs). There was not a real CIWS system on board, relating only to the massive firepower of artilleries, but at aft ship none of them can fire, so despite so many guns, there were still blind spots in the defence at low altitudes, covered (in the aft sector) only by Tartar/SM-1, not meant as anti-missile system.


In 1988–1989 they underwent extensive modernisations: it included the replacement of one 127 mm gun turrets and also the A.184 torpedoes with new weapons: a Teseo SSM system (midship, between the 76mm guns) and an eight-cell Albatros Aspide SAM launcher (directly replacing the 127mm turret). The four 76/62 mm guns remained, but the Compact model was replaced by 76/62 Super Rapido (120 rpm, meant especially for anti-ship missile defence). The Tartar SAM complex was replaced by the RIM-66 Standard Missile SM-1 system. So, with this new systems, these ships were able to cope with all the requirements: thanks to the Superapido and Albatross they had a much improved close-defence, especially against missiles, while OTOMAT allowed a long range, anti-ship capability, together with AB-212 for targeting over the horizon. All this helped to bring these ships almost to the same level of the new de La Penne class, in 1991 still under construction, with even more weaponry (1 Super Rapido gun).

What remained unsolved was the lack of a VDS (variable depth sonar), the construction vulnerability, with the tall superstructures made in aluminium (and so vulnerable to fire), the excessive amount of weapons and explosives in the small hull (especially in the aft superstructure, that in 20 metres (66 ft) concentrated both hangar and SAM depots), some spartan solution for hosting the crew of 380, and the lack of an aft close-defence weapon: 6 were available at flanks and foredeck but the four Super-Rapido were placed at mid-ship, unable to fire directly both forward and behind. Also, the engine was of an outdated model, potentially dangerous and slow to operate from start. All these ships suffered from the age and the intense sea service, so their operational life was almost expired at the end of the 20th century, and only the delays of Horizon program allowed them to stay in service for several years longer than expected.


Name Pennant
Builder Laid down Launched Commissioned Decommissioned Status
Audace D 551 CNR of Riva Trigoso 17 April 1968 2 October 1971 16 November 1972 28 September 2006 Decommissioned
Ardito D 550 Italcantieri Castellamare di Stabia 19 July 1968 27 November 1971 5 December 1972 28 September 2006 Decommissioned

Both of the units were based at La Spezia and took part in many missions, such as the Lebanon crisis in 1982, and Gulf crisis in 1990–91. They were both retired in 2006.


  • Conway's all the World's Fighting Ships 1947–1995
  • Page from Globalsecurity
  • Po, Enrico, i caccia de La Penne, Rivista italiana Difesa (RID) n.6/93.
  • Armi da guerra enciclopedia, pag 863, De Agostini publisher, 1984. This was the Italian edition of War Machines, Limited aerospace publishing, London.
Guided missile destroyer

A guided-missile destroyer is a destroyer designed to launch guided missiles. Many are also equipped to carry out anti-submarine, anti-air, and anti-surface operations. The NATO standard designation for these vessels is DDG. Nations vary in their use of destroyer D designation in their hull pennant numbering, either prefixing or dropping it altogether. The U.S. Navy has adopted the classification DDG in the American hull classification system.

In addition to the guns, a guided-missile destroyer is usually equipped with two large missile magazines, usually in vertical-launch cells. Some guided-missile destroyers contain powerful radar systems, such as the United States’ Aegis Combat System, and may be adopted for use in an anti-missile or ballistic-missile defense role. This is especially true of navies that no longer operate cruisers, so other vessels must be adopted to fill in the gap.

Italian destroyer Audace

Audace was the name of at least three ships of the Italian Navy and may refer to:

Italian destroyer Audace (1913), an Animoso-class destroyer launched in 1913 and sunk in 1916 following a collision.

Italian destroyer Audace (1916), a destroyer ordered for Japan from Yarrow as Kawakaze transferred to Italy while building renamed Intrepido then Audace. Seized by Germany 1943, renamed TA20 and sunk in 1944.

Italian destroyer Audace (D551), an Audace-class destroyer launched in 1971 and decommissioned in 2006.

Italian ship Ardito

Ardito was the name of at least three ships of the Italian Navy and may refer to:

Italian destroyer Ardito (1912), an Ardito-class destroyer launched in 1912 and discarded in 1931.

Italian torpedo boat Ardito, a Ciclone-class torpedo boat launched in 1942. Seized by Germany and renamed TA26 in September 1943. She was sunk in 1944.

Italian destroyer Ardito (D 550), an Audace-class destroyer launched in 1971 and decommissioned in 2006.

List of Gulf War military equipment

List of Gulf War Military Equipment is a summary of the various military weapons and vehicles used by the different nations during the Gulf War of 1990–1991.

List of shipwrecks in August 1916

The list of shipwrecks in August 1916 includes some ships sunk, foundered, grounded, or otherwise lost during August 1916.

List of shipwrecks in November 1944

The list of shipwrecks in November 1944 includes ships sunk, foundered, grounded, or otherwise lost during November 1944.

OTO Melara 76 mm

The OTO Melara 76 mm gun is a naval gun built and designed by the Italian defence company Oto Melara. It is based on the Oto Melara 76/62C and evolved toward 76/62 SR and 76/62 Strales.

The system is compact enough to be installed on relatively small warships. Its high rate of fire and availability of range of ammunition make it capable for short-range anti-missile point defence, anti-aircraft, anti-surface, and ground support. Ammunition includes armour-piercing, incendiary, directed fragmentation effects, and a guided round marketed as capable of destroying manoeuvring anti-ship missiles. A stealth cupola is now offered.

The OTO Melara 76 mm has been widely exported and is in use by sixty navies. It has recently been favoured over the French 100mm naval gun for the joint French/Italian Horizon-class frigate project and FREMM frigate.

On 27 September 2006 Iran announced it has started mass production of a marine artillery gun, named the Fajr-27, which is a reverse-engineered Oto Melara 76 mm gun.

Otobreda 127/54 Compact

The Otobreda 127mm/54 Compact (127/54C) gun is a dual purpose naval artillery piece built by the Italian company Oto Melara. It uses the 127mm round which is also used in the 5 inch/ 54 gun, albeit that this gun calibre is measured in United States customary units rather than metric. The gun uses an automatic loading system where 66 127mm rounds of various kinds can be stored ready-to-fire in three loader drums (each holding 22 rounds). The barrel is water-cooled. Currently the gun is still in use by navies around the world but it is slowly being replaced by the Otobreda 127/64 for new vessels, such as the German Navy's F125-class frigate and Italian Navy's FREMM.

Palestro-class destroyer

The Palestro-class torpedo boats were destroyers of the Italian Regia Marina that saw service from the mid-1920s to World War II.

The ships were designed in 1915 and based on the Audace-class destroyer. Eight ships were ordered, but because of wartime shortages of materials only four were eventually completed. These four ships were laid down in 1917 at the Orlando shipyard in Livorno, but were not finally completed until 1921-1923. In 1938 they were re-rated as torpedo boats.The design was subsequently enlarged into the Sella-class destroyers, a design that was developed into a series of medium-sized Italian destroyer classes.

RIM-24 Tartar

The General Dynamics RIM-24 Tartar was a medium-range naval surface-to-air missile (SAM), and was among the earliest surface-to-air missiles to equip United States Navy ships. The Tartar was the third of the so-called "3 T's", the three primary SAMs the Navy fielded in the 1960s and 1970s, the others being the RIM-2 Terrier and RIM-8 Talos.

Torpedoboot Ausland

The Torpedoboot Ausland ("foreign torpedo boats") were small destroyers or large torpedo boats captured by Nazi Germany and incorporated into the Kriegsmarine. They were assigned a number beginning with TA.

Audace-class destroyers


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