Cavour was laid down by Fincantieri on 17 July 2001, and she was launched from the Riva Trigoso shipyard in Sestri Levante, on 20 July 2004. Sea trials began in December 2006, and she was officially commissioned March 27, 2008. Full Operational Capability (FOC) was reached June 10, 2009. The ship was never moved to Taranto, as usually happens for the maintenance of the Italian Navy ships, because the dock is not deep enough to host it. It stays in Muggiano harbour, close to La Spezia. Cavour is the new flagship of the Marina Militare, the Italian Navy.
On 2010 January 19, Cavour was dispatched to Haiti as part of Operation White Crane, Italy's operation for 2010 Haiti earthquake relief.
The ship is designed to combine fixed wing V/STOL and helicopter air operations, command and control operations and the transport of military or civil personnel and heavy vehicles. The 134 metre, 2,800 m2 hangar space can double as a vehicle hold capable of holding up to 24 main battle tanks or many more lighter vehicles (50 Dardo IFV, 100+ Iveco LMV), and is fitted aft with access ramps rated to 70 tons, as well as two elevators rated up to 30 tons for aircraft. Cavour can also operate as Landing Platform Helicopter (LPH), accommodating heavy transport helicopters (EH 101 ASH) and ~325 marines.
Cavour has a displacement of 27,900 tons but can reach more than 30,000 tons at full military capacity, after improvements done in 2008.
Initially she was to be named after Luigi Einaudi, then Admiral Andrea Doria, before receiving her current title. Now that Cavour has become operational, it is the Nuova Unità Maggiore (NUM, or New Main Unit) of the Marina Militare, complementing the Giuseppe Garibaldi. The ship was originally constructed in two sections (bow and stern) then later fused together.
Laid down: July 17, 2001
Launched: July 20, 2004
Commissioned: March 27, 2008
In service: June 10, 2009
Homeport: La Spezia
Motto: In Arduis Servare Mentem
Type: CVH aircraft carrier
Displacement: 27,100 tons 30,000 tons(full-load)
Length: 244 m
Beam: 39 m
Draught: 8.7 m
Propulsion: 4 × General Electric/Avio LM2500+ gas turbines providing 88.000 hp 6 × Diesel generators (13.200 KW)
Speed: 28+ knots
Range: 7,000 nautical miles (13,000 km) at 16 knots (30 km/h)
203 Fleet Air Arm
140 C4 staff
325 Marines (standard)
Armament: 4 × A43 SYLVER VLS for 32 Aster-15 SAM
2 × Oto Melara 76/62 mm Super Rapido gun
3 × Oerlikon Contraves 25/80 mm AA gun
Aircraft carried: 20
8 x AV-8B Harrier IIs (combat jet)
12 x EH101 AEW/HEW and other helicopters