ITS Alpino (F594) is the fourth ship of the Italian Navy that bears this name. The first unit - a Soldato Class destroyer of the Regia Marina – was in service between 1909 and 1928. This ship was deployed during the Italo-Turkish war and World War I, tasked with mining, support to special operations and patrolling, and took part in several combat operations in the Adriatic and Ionian Sea.
The second unit to bear this name was a Soldato Class destroyer of the Regia Marina in service from 1938 to 1943, which participated in many naval battles of World War II, always getting the better of the enemy, even in the battles of Punta Stilo and Cape Matapan. Berthed at the port of La Spezia, she was hit and sunk by a bomb dropped by one of the 170 British aircraft that on the night of 18/19 April 1943 heavily bombed the city of La Spezia.
The third unit to bear the name Alpino was a frigate (F580/A5384) in service from 1967 to 2006. Built in the Riva Trigoso shipyard, she was initially given the name “Circe”, and later renamed “Alpino”. The ship was equipped with 6 76/62 guns, 1 AB 212 ASW helicopter, along with ASW weapon systems including 2 torpedo launchers and 1 mortar. In 1973, the ship undertook the longest continuous voyage (496 hours) in the Italian Navy, covering 7,315 nautical miles, travelling as far as the Labrador Sea. In 1966, at the end of a period of extensive works and modifications, she was converted into flagship for mine warfare and mine countermeasures support ship. The ship was decommissioned on 31 March 2006.
The fourth and newest FREMM (F594) is named Alpino in honour of one of the historical military corps of the Italian Army, witnessing and confirming the strong link between sailors and Alpini, and in line with the concept of jointness, stressed once more on occasion of the launching ceremony by the then Chief of Italian Defence, Admiral Luigi Binelli Martelli.
The ship was launched by Mrs Maria Rosa Solimano, cousin of the staff sergeant Francesco Solimano from Sori (Genoa), Alpine serving in the 1st Regiment, Pieve di Teco battalion, killed in battle on the Eastern front and decorated with the golden medal for military valour, because “As leader of a 45 mm mortar team, during the retreat from the Don river, he showed exceptional strength of mind, maintaining team unity and effectiveness, and leading his crew with legendary bravery through repeated heavy fighting, during the 10-day withdrawal. In the course of a violent offensive, having maintained full team effectiveness (retrieving abandoned weapons and ammunition), he could put up a strenuous resistance with renewed ardour, and react with audacious counterattacks. Wounded, during a cavalry charge that smashed our lines, he rejected relief for survivors and urged them to fight to the death. Instead of escaping, he preferred sharing the lot of his wounded teammates remained in the cold steppe. Wonderful example of absolute commitment to service and stoic determination”.
ITS Alpino’s crest - displaying an anchor surmounted by an eagle against a blue ground – points out the connection between Navy and Army, featuring elements of both services: the anchor (also represented inside the towered crown) as emblem of the Italian Navy, and the eagle, symbol of strength and courage, the ancient ensign of the Roman legions representing military power. The inscription inside the crest is ITS Alpino’s motto, “Di qui non si passa” (None shall pass).
This motto was chosen by the third Alpino frigate (F580), to pay homage to the special bond with the Army. Actually, today it is still the motto of the Alpini corps, as well of the 10th Regiment and the Alpini National Association. It was coined by General Luigi Pelloux on 18 October 1888, during a military parade in Rome. On that occasion, while the troops paraded in front of the King of Italy and the German Emperor, General Pelloux ended his address saying: “…At the farthest borders, at the passes of Italy, they almost symbolize a bulwark featuring the inscription “Di qui non si passa (None shall pass)”.