U.S. Navy Awards FFG(X) Frigate Contract to Fincantieri Marinette

Fincantieri's FFG(X) submission, based on its existing FREMM design (Fincantieri)

Published Apr 30, 2020 9:20 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Navy has awarded the contract for the first in a series of up to 10 new frigates to Fincantieri Marinette Marine. The initial order is valued at $795 million, with a total value of up to $5.6 billion if all options are exercised. 

Fincantieri's entry in the hotly-contested FFG(X) contract is based on its existing FREMM design, which is in use with French, Italian and Moroccan forces. The FREMM ("Fregata Europea Multi-Missione") has been in service since 2012. The Italian Navy's variant has a 30-knot top speed, a range of 6,800 miles and a 130-member crew. 

Unlike the Littoral Combat Ships that it will displace in future production, the FFG(X) will have built-in capability to conduct air warfare, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare operations. It will be fitted with standard surface-combatant weapons systems that the LCS program did not include - notably a SPY-6-derived radar, a Baseline Ten (BL10) Aegis Combat System and a complement of Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) cells for surface-to-air, ground-attack and anti-ship missiles. These systems are in use aboard multiple U.S. Navy vessel classes, making it easier to keep spare parts in stock and train sailors on a common platform. 

“FFG(X) is the evolution of the Navy’s Small Surface Combatant with increased lethality, survivability, and improved capability to support the National Defense Strategy across the full range of military operations. It will no doubt help us conduct distributed maritime operations more effectively, and improve our ability to fight both in contested blue-water and littoral environments," said chief of naval operations Adm. Mike Gilday in a statement.

The lead ship in the class is budgeted at $1.3 billion, and the Navy intends to reduce the cost in follow-on hulls to about $800 million (plus the additional cost of government-furnished equipment). The first delivery is scheduled for 2026. 

The Navy has split the planned 20-vessel FFG(X) order into two 10-ship series, raising the prospect that a second shipbuilder might be selected to build the remaining hulls.  As the Navy retained the right to the FFG(X) design package under the contract terms, it could even select a second yard without creating a separate vessel class, according to USNI.

“I am very proud of the hard work from the requirements, acquisition, and shipbuilder teams that participated in the full and open competition, enabling the Navy to make this important decision today,” said James Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition. “Throughout this process, the government team and our industry partners have all executed with a sense of urgency and discipline, delivering this contract award three months ahead of schedule."

According to Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), the contract award will create 1,000 new jobs at Marinette, supporting thousands of additional jobs in the community.

“When we began this journey nearly two years ago it was with the belief that there was a place for new ideas, new platforms and new partners in an already talented U.S. shipbuilding industry,” said Fincantieri Marine Group CEO Dario Deste. "Congratulations to the Navy on this important decision. The men and women of Fincantieri Marinette Marine and our partner suppliers throughout the United States are ready to get to work.”