U.S Navy Names First FFG(X) Frigate USS Constellation

On Wednesday, Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Kenneth Braithwaite announced that the U.S. Navy will name its first FFG(X) guided-missile frigate as USS Constellation (FFG-62). It was first reported by USNI News.

It was announced from the second ship to bear that name: USS Constellation, a sloop-of-war that was launched in 1854. It was decommissioned in 1933 and is preserved as a National Historic Landmark in Baltimore, Md. The first FFG(X) is the fifth Navy ship to be named USS Constellation.

The other ships are:

• USS Constellation, a 38-gun frigate launched in 1797 and scrapped in 1853

• USS Constellation, a sloop-of-war launched in 1854 and decommissioned in 1933, and preserved as a National Historic Landmark in Baltimore, Maryland

• USS Constellation (CC-2), a Lexington-class battlecruiser laid down in 1920 and had construction cancelled in 1923

• USS Constellation (CV-64), a Kitty Hawk-class steam turbine propelled aircraft carrier which served from 1961 to 2003

Earlier this year, Fincantieri Marinette Marine Corporation (MMC) was awarded a $795 million contract for detail design and construction (DD&C) of the FFG(X) class of guided-missile frigates.

The contract with options will provide for the delivery of up to 10 FFG(X) ships (consisting of one base ship and nine option ships), post-delivery availability support, engineering and class services, crew familiarization, training equipment and provisioned item orders. If all options are exercised, the cumulative value of this contract will be around $5.58 billion.

The Italian shipbuilder, Fincantieri offered its 6,700-ton FREMM (Fregata europea multimissione) frigate design for the FFG(X) program. The Italian FREMM design features a 16-cell VLS as well as space for deck-launched anti-ship missiles (AShMs).

The frigates are scheduled to be built at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM) shipyard in Marinette, Wisc. The teaming arrangement between Fincantieri and Lockheed Martin will likely be similar to the arrangement that was done during the construction of the Freedom-class (LCS 1) littoral combat ships.

The FREMM frigates are primarily operated by the Italian and French Navies. In France, the class is known as the Aquitaine class, while in Italy they are known as the Bergamini class.

Italy has ordered six general-purpose variants and four anti-submarine variants. France has ordered six anti-submarine variants and two air-defense variants. The frigates are also operated by Egypt and Morocco.

The FFG(X) frigate specifications include multi-mission capability to conduct anti-air warfare (AAW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASW), electronic warfare (EW) and information operations. The frigates will be capable of operating in blue water and littoral environments.

Specifically, FFG(X) will include a Raytheon AN/SPY-6(V)3 Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR), Baseline Ten (BL10) AEGIS Combat System, a Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS), communications systems, MK 57 Gun Weapon System (GWS) countermeasures and added capability in the EW/IO area with design flexibility for future growth.
FFG(X) Project Timeline:

The Navy released the FFG(X) DD&C Request for Proposals to industry on June 20, 2019. The technical proposals were received in August 2019 and cost proposals were received in September 2019. This was a full and open competition with multiple offers received.

Six shipbuilders submitted proposals for conceptual designs with five of them awarded conceptual design contracts, worth $15 million each, to mature their proposed ship design to meet the FFG(X) system specification.

The five contenders who were awarded conceptual design contracts are Austal USA, Huntington Ingalls (HII), Lockheed Martin, Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM) and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW).

Atlas North America submitted the MEKO A-200 design but was not selected for a conceptual design contract.

The four FFG (X) contenders were:

  • Austal USA offering a frigate design based on U.S. Navy Independence-class littoral combat ship (LCS).
  • Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM) offering a design based on FREMM multipurpose frigate operate by the Italian and French Navies.
  • General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW)/Navantia offering a design based on Spanish Navy Álvaro de Bazán-class F100 frigate.
  • Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) offering a patrol frigate design likely based on U.S. Coast Guard’s Legend-class National Security Cutter (NSC).

The Navy is expected to award the contract for the second frigate in 2021. The next 18 frigates of the 20-ship class are expected to be ordered at a rate of two per year from 2022.

U.S. Congress funded the procurement of the first FFG(X) in FY2020 at a cost of $1,281.2 million. The Navy’s proposed FY2021 budget requests $1,053.1 million for the procurement of the second FFG(X). The Navy estimates that subsequent ships in the class will cost roughly $940 million each in then-year dollars. This is about half the cost of a Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer (DDG).

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