Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM) yesterday officially started construction on the U.S. Navy’s first Constellation-class guided missile frigate. As shipbuilders began cutting steel for the ship, members of the Navy, representatives of elected officials and community leaders witnessed the milestone event.
Two years ago the Navy selected FMM to design and build the Constellation-class frigate, which is based on the FREMM design developed by its parent Fincantieri Group. Since then the Marinette, Wis., shipyard and its employees have been remarkably busy. The shipyard has received extensive upgrades and new facilities to efficiently build the vessels.
“We invested more than $300 million into our Marinette shipyard to build many frigates for the U.S. Navy,” said Marco Galbiati, CEO of Fincantieri Marine Group. “Using our new facilities and industry-leading best practices, we stand ready to deliver the two frigates a year the Navy requires.
The Navy’s PEO ships notes that the start of construction follows the successful completion of a production readiness review (PRR) on July 20.
Constellation Class Frigates are a key component of the recently released Chief of Naval Operations Navigation Plan (NAVPLAN) 2022, which envisions a future hybrid fleet composed of 350 manned ships and approximately 150 unmanned ships.
“Our team has worked tirelessly with industry partners to develop an innovative acquisition approach to efficiently procure and produce a 21st century frigate,” said Rear Adm. Casey Moton, Program Executive Officer, Unmanned and Small Combatants (PEO USC). “The start of Constellation’s construction marks a key milestone on our path to build and deliver this new capability to the fleet,”
PEO USC oversees the Constellation Class Frigate program office (PMS 515) charged with the design, development and construction of the Navy’s newest warship class.
The new frigates are designed to operate in both open ocean and littoral environments, as part of a Carrier or Expeditionary Strike Group or a Surface Action Group. The ships will be equipped with proven technologies and systems already in use today, which will accelerate the timeline to get this new capability to the fleet.
“The Frigate program has worked diligently to minimize risks by selecting non-developmental systems and proven program of record equipment to meet our requirements, and by conducting this rigorous PRR,” said Capt. Kevin Smith, PMS 515 Program Manager.
“I am proud of the Government acquisition professionals and industry teammates for all their hard work to get the Constellation program to this milestone as we transition from design development to building the ship,” said Smith. “Building a first of a class warship is an exciting moment.”
The Navy is planning for at least 20 frigates to be built in the near future, and Fincantieri says it intends to be a driving force in this surface combatant community.
“We continue to work extensively with the Navy’s program office to complete first ship design to give the Navy the ship they want,” said Mark Vandroff, CEO of Fincantieri Marinette Marine. “We are better than 80% complete on ship design prior to starting construction, which is consistent with best practices across the naval shipbuilding industry.”
Fincantieri Marinette Marine is on contract to build the first three frigates, and has contract options with the Navy for seven additional ships.