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Pipes and cables. Italy’s “unitary” approach to sea security

Italian Navy
The maritime domain is coming sharply into focus. At the Trans-Regional Seapower Symposium, Defence Minister Guerini outlined its importance, Admirals Cavo Dragone and Credendino explained Italy’s approach. Meanwhile, the members of the next governing coalition signalled continuity

Look underwater. “The submarine dimension is increasingly relevant and fundamental because [of] the strategic infrastructures for our societies,” such as energy pipelines and internet cables running on the seabed. Speaking on the sidelines of the Military Marines Symposium in Venice, Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini spoke of the need to ensure their security.

  • Italy is protecting them with its Armed Forces – the Italian Navy first and foremost, noted Minister Guerini, in cooperation with partner countries. The issue, he added, must increasingly see Rome’s “commitment and attention.”

The Ukraine effect. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, continued the outgoing Defence Minister, has brought about “instability, indeterminacy, exasperated competition and umpteen conflicts.” We’re seeing multiple, shifting, hard-to-predict (and therefore more dangerous) challenges, he added, and their effects “are found mainly in dynamics involving the maritime environment.”

It’s a holistic concern, involving military heavyweights such as Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragone, Defence Chief of Staff, who recently spoke of a plan launched in agreement with Minister Guerini to increase safeguards so as to protect strategic artilleries in the Mediterranean that guarantee Italy’s energy supply.

Another voice: Admiral Enrico Credendino, Chief of Naval Staff, noted the importance of managing the ocean and the seas with one eye on sustainability and the other on security. “When discussing energy security, the underwater domain is a new physical dimension. Today we talk about sea, land, sky and space, but no one talks about what happens below the surface. There is a huge race for space, [but] 90% of the seabed is still unexplored.”

  • That’s why we must focus on the underwater dimension, said the admiral, adding that Italy is “activating the National Underwater Pole for this very purpose” – putting together all the actors, universities, the Defence and Economic Development Ministers and all those connected to the sea.

And the next government looks set to follow this route, judging by the positions of some crucial MPs.

  • Senator Adolfo Urso, chairman of the Intelligence Committee and a key member of Brothers of Italy, recently proposed the establishment of a Ministry of the Sea.
  • Over on the League’s side, the newly appointed Senator Marco Dreosto pointed out via Twitter that the centrality of the Mediterranean comes “powerfully back into focus” with the Nord Stream sabotage.
    • “The security of gas pipelines, undersea cables and trade routes in the [Mediterranean Sea] is strategic for Italy and Europe,” he added.
  • Stefania Pucciarelli, the League-backed Undersecretary for Defence in the outgoing government, told Il Giornale that “today, more than ever, [we need] military commitment to prevent and counter any attacks on strategic infrastructure – such as gas pipelines or cables for digital connections that run under our seas.”
    • “Our geostrategic location and the geopolitical context require a step change in defending the maritime dimension, including through greater investment.”

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