Trump Visits Shipbuilder Fincantieri Marinette Marine

Fincantieri Marinette Marine (file image courtesy Fincantieri Marine Group)

Published Jun 25, 2020 8:40 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump visited Wisconsin shipbuilder Fincantieri Marinette Marine and pledged his support for America's shipbuilding industrial base.

"As long as I'm president, America will never lose that shipbuilding talent or capability. It won't lose that excellence or the expertise of the men and women of Marinette Marine, we'll never lose that. Never lose it," Trump said.  

Trump also congratulated Fincantieri Marinette and its workforce on securing a $5.5 billion contract for the U.S. Navy's FFG(X) future frigate program. "The first in class FFG(X) will not just be a win for Wisconsin workers, it will also be a major victory for our Navy," he said. "There's never been anything so advanced as what you're building. The ship is 30 times more powerful than the previous generation."

Trump suggested that once yard improvements at Fincantieri Marinette Marine are complete and work is under way on the FFG(X), more Navy contracts could well be in the shipbuilder's future - and that that future now looks bright. 

"Not long ago the future of this historic shipyard was looking, can I use the word bleak? Yes, I think we can, it was looking bleak," Trump claimed. "But this past April, Marinette's fortunes turned around, and they turned around quickly."

Trump also addressed the details of the contract selection process. "I hear that the maneuverability is one of the big factors that you were chosen for the contract. The other is your location in Wisconsin, if you want to know the truth," Trump said. 

Before the announcement of the contract award in April, former Austal executive Craig Hooper predicted that the FREMM proposal had an edge due not only to the high quality of the product, but also the unique importance of Wisconsin in the 2020 presidential election. 

In a statement, Vice President Joe Biden - the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee - accused Trump of taking credit for economic progress at Marinette that was initiated long before. During the George W. Bush administration, Lockheed Martin and Marinette Marine secured a contract for the first of the Freedom-class littoral combat ship series, followed by additional orders throughout the Obama administration. Both LCS classes are being phased out in future production in favor of the FFG(X).