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Shipshape: Fincantieri Marinette Marine yard overhaul sets stage for frigate construction

The USN plans to buy 20 Constellation-class guided missile frigates. (Fincantieri Marinette Marine)

Outfitted to build Freedom-class littoral combat ships (LCSs), the Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM) shipyard was ill-equipped to build the new fleet of Constellation-class guided-missile frigates (FFG 62s) set to be acquired by the US Navy (USN).

To win the USN contract to build the new ships, FMM disclosed plans to completely overhaul its shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin.

The USN awarded the FMM team the FFG 62 fixed-price incentive (firm target) contract in April 2020, for Detail Design and Construction (DD&C) of up to 10 ships – the lead vessel plus nine option frigates. The navy wants to procure 20 FFG 62s.

Congress funded the procurement of the first FFG 62 for about USD1.3 billion, the second FFG 62 in fiscal year (FY) 2021 for about USD1.1 billion, and the third in FY 2022 for another USD1.1 billion.

As construction begins on the first FFG 62 modules, FMM is about halfway through the four major projects at the yard, with no impediments to completing the facility work – or the ship construction – on or before schedule, FMM CEO Mark Vandroff told Janes .

FMM needed to build new yard structures – or expand existing ones – to accommodate the frigate's larger size compared with earlier LCS vessels, and the company also needed to upgrade equipment in the yard to improve tradework such as welding, Vandroff noted. The yard also needed to revamp the way it launched its completed ships, which necessitated new equipment and installation.

β€œIn the yards, particularly for the frigate programme, there are four major projects,” Vandroff said. β€œTwo of them are complete or substantially complete. Two are still in progress.”

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