CAPT Smith explained that in FY2021, the focus of the program will be to approve Fincantieri’s build specifications, completing the detailed design and start the construction of the lead ship. The milestones of the first-in-class ship, USS Constellation (FFG 62) are as follows:
- Critical Design Review (CDR): Q4 FY2021
- Production Readiness Review (PRR): Q4 FY2021
- Start of Construction (SOC): Fall of 2021/Q1 FY2022
- Keel laying: Q1 FY2023
- Launch: Q1 FY2025
- Delivery: Q3 FY2026
Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Gilday, during his opening address at the 2021 SNA Virtual Symposium said the delivery of the first-in-class ship would take place in the Summer of 2026.
The second ship of the class, which will be known as USS Congress (FFG 63), is set to begin construction in Q3 FY2022. The third ship in Q3 FY2023, the fourth ship in Q1 FY2024…
Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard CAPEX
Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM) is in the process of making major upgrades and expansion to both Marinette and Bay Shipyards as capital improvements to support the FFG 62.
- Preparation and blast paint facility
- Module/frand module construction facility
- Fincal hull erection and outfitting facility
- Steel processing and fabrication facility for naval vessels
- Module and super construction and hull erection facility
CAPT Smith said FMM is on schedule with the program and on track to support the planned Frigate construction. The syncrolift is already being built and will be first demonstrated on the Saudi MMSC.
Constellation-class Frigate: Latest details
On its virtual exhibit, Fincantieri Marine Group unveiled some new artist impressions of the future frigate of the U.S. Navy, showing its latest design.
Compared to previous renderings, there are differences on the mast and the upper part of the forward superstructure block. The mast is incorporating new radar domes or protected antennas like on top of the mast, which is completely new. SATCOM antennas appear to have been moved or replaced from the superstructures will new ones have appeared on the mast.
Constellation-class growth margins
Speaking about growth margins, CAPT Smith said:
“We have ample margin for this hull form. We also have in our requirement space, weight, power and cooling margin to accommodate upgrades down the road over the service life of the ship. Some of those could lead to direct energy type projects and other capability. But right now, just as an example for weight, we have at least 400 tons of margin respective future upgrades.”
CAPT Kevin Smith, program manager (PMS 515)
Constellation-class US content
The future U.S. Navy frigate will have a great deal of American content. CAPT Smith explained that upon the FFG 62 lead ship contract award, the vessel contained more than 96% US content by value. The FFG 62 propulsion equipment is on the transition path to be fully manufacturer in the United States beginning with the first ship-in-class. The U.S. Navy “is committed to fostering a healthy and efficient shipbuilding industrial base”.
For the record, Fincantieri was selected as the winner of the FFG(X) competition in April 2020, with the award of a $795 mil US Navy contract for detail design & construction of the first ship at its Marinette shipyard in Wisconsin. Options for up to 10 ships could make the contract worth up to $5.6 billion. Fincantieri was competing with a frigate design based on the Italian Navy’s FREMM frigate. The acquisition process for FFG(X) began in 2017.
Fincantieri was competing against 3 shipbuilders:
- Austal with a frigate based on its Independence-class LCS
- Bath Iron Works (partnered with Navantia of Spain) with a frigate based on the F100
- Huntington Ingalls Industries with an unknown design
Constellation-class Frigate specifications
The future frigate of the U.S. Navy will be based on the Italian Navy FREMM in its anti-submarine warfare (ASW) variant (Virginio Fasan type but quite heavily modified, especially top-side). The vessel will have a length of 496 feet, a beam of 65 feet for a 7,500-ton displacement. According to Fincantieri, the ship will be future proof as it will generate 12 megawatts of power. GE announced last month that they will provide the LM2500+G4 aeroderivative marine gas turbine to power the future frigate.
In terms of weapon systems, the frigate will be fitted with all the government furnished equipment as outlined by the U.S. Navy requirements:
- A Mk110 57mm main gun
- 32x Mk41 VLS
- Up to 16x NSM anti-ship missiles
- A RAM close in weapon system
The future frigate will be fitted with the future AN/SPY-6(V)3 radar by Raytheon and baseline 10 Aegis combat management system.
Constellation-class frigate missions
Anti-submarine warfare (ASW), Surface warfare (ASuW), Electronic Maneuver Warfare (EW), Anti-Air Warfare (AAW).
Constellation-class frigate employment
Operate independently or integrated with a Task Froce to conduct offensive and defensive ASuW, ASW and AAW.
Constellation-class frigate description
FFG 62 is an agile, multi-mission platform designed for operation in littoral and blue water environments.