Fincantieri Begins Construction of First Constellation-Class Frigate
On Wednesday, Fincantieri Marine Group began construction on the first Constellation-class frigate for the U.S. Navy with a formal steel-cutting ceremony.
Two years ago, Fincantieri won the contract to design and build the Constellation-class, which will replace further Littoral Combat Ship hulls in future production. The design for the frigate is based on Fincantieri's own FREMM, a design which is already in use with the Italian and French navies. After the production challenges of the Zumwalt, Ford and LCS classes, the U.S. Navy sought a proven hull form, and a modified FREMM fit the objectives.
FMG put serious effort into preparing its facilities for the new project, investing more than $300 million into its shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin. With these preparations in place, FMG is ready to deliver two frigates a year, according to CEO Marco Galbiati.
“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 percent complete on ship design prior to starting construction, which is consistent with best practices."
The long time lag between contract award and steel-cutting was to ensure design maturity and reduce risk during production, program executive officer Rear Adm. Casey Moton told USNI.
The Navy's target is to build a total of 20 hulls, including at least the first three from FMG and options for seven more. The Navy has discussed the possibility of adding a "follow-yard" to expand the rate of production, and the likely contenders include Austal's new steel production line in Mobile, Alabama.