On 31 August 2022, Fincantieri-owned Marinette Marine started construction of the US Navy’s first Constellation-class guided missile frigate.
The future USS Constellation moved into the next stage of development as shipbuilders began cutting steel for the ship with representatives of the US Navy, elected officials and community leaders in attendance.
Two years ago the US Navy selected Fincantieri Marinette Marine to design and build the Constellation-class frigate. In preparation for doing so, the yard received extensive upgrades and new facilities to efficiently build these important vessels.
“We invested more than US$300 million into our Marinette shipyard to build many frigates for the US 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 US Navy requires. The US Navy is planning for at least 20 frigates to be built in the near future.
Fincantieri Marinette Marine chief executive Mark Vandroff said: “We continue to work extensively with the programme office to complete first ship design to give the US Navy the ship it wants. 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 now under contract to build the first three frigates, which will be named Constellation, Chesapeake, and Congress. The contract includes options with the US Navy for seven additional ships. The US Navy formally confirmed the option for the third frigate in June 2022.
The Constellation-class guided missile frigate (FFG 62) will be a capable and survivable multi-mission platform designed for operations in blue water and the littoral environments. The frigates are designed to operate independently or as part of carrier/expeditionary strike group or a surface action group and are manned and equipped for Navy Composite Warfare and Joint Maritime Operations.
The Constellation class has the capability to conduct air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, electronic warfare and information operations. The ships have an Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR) radar, Baseline Ten (BL10) Aegis Combat System, Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS), communications systems, Mk 110 57mm Gun Weapon System and added capability in the electronic warfare/information operations area with design flexibility for future growth. The frigates will also conduct offensive and defensive anti-submarine warfare.
In order to reduce cost, retire risk and accelerate schedule, NAVSEA’s Frigate Program Office (PMS 515) stipulated the use of an existing proven ‘parent’ ship design, the adoption of non-developmental item standards, and the use of commercial-off-the-shelf systems. It also mandated a proven warfare systems package provided as government-furnished equipment.
Adapted from the Italian Navy’s Carlo Bergamini-class FREMM frigate platform, the FFG-62 frigate programme was conceived to provide the US Navy with the increased lethality, survivability, and improved capability to support the National Defense Strategy across the full range of military operations in the current security environment.