Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri has been selected to upgrade P61 offshore patrol vessels for the armed forces of Malta.
The contract, financially supported by the European Union and the government of Malta, tasks Fincantieri with upgrading vessels the company built over ten years ago. Malta's military initially ordered the ships to replace its East German Kondor-class patrol boats in 2003. The ships were delivered in 2005.
The P61 is designed to launch rib patrol boats, and has enough space to land a helicopter during search-and-rescue missions.
Upgrades for the vessel will aim to improve its reaction capabilities through an overhaul of several shipboard systems. Company officials expect the upgrades to cost $7.4 million, and take roughly six months to complete.
The work will be performed at the Fincantieri shipyard in La Spezia, Italy.