To ensure its Wisconsin shipyard can meet the US Navy (USN) requirement to build two guided-missile frigates (FFG(X)) per year to compete for the contract to build the warship, Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM) has embarked on a programme to overhaul the yard and revamp some of its shipbuilding processes, FMM president Richard Hunt told Jane's .
The USN released the request for proposal (RFP) on 20 June for the proposed new FFG(X). The service plans to procure the first of 20 frigates in the coming fiscal year and then to start ship production to start in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022.
Only a few months ago, Hunt said, the FMM was uncertain if it could commit to producing the FFG(X) at the required two-per-year-production number, especially with the work on Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs) and the Multi-Mission Surface Combatants (MMSCs) being built for Saudi Arabia.
The FMM yard is the shipbuilding unit for the Lockheed Martin Freedom-variant LCS and MMSCs. Initially, Lockheed Martin had been competing for the FFG(X) lead contract, but the company opted against pursuing the frigate detail design and construction contract as a prime contractor, to instead focus on winning naval competitions for ship combat systems, anti-submarine warfare (ASW) processing, and advanced electronic warfare (EW) technology programmes.
The main remaining competitors, besides FMM, include Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), Austal USA, and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW). Having submitted proposals, the companies have been in technical talks and related discussions with the USN.
In talking with USN leadership, Hunt acknowledged, he would say, "We are challenged to meet the two-per-year requirement. It's going to take a lot of effort."
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