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US Navy frigate design issues blamed for construction problems and delivery delays

The lead ship of the USN's guided-missile programme is facing construction issues and delivery delays. (US Navy)

Design instability has created construction problems for the new US Navy (USN) guided-missile frigate (FFG) and delayed delivery of the ship, according to a recent US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

To reduce technical risk for the FFGs, the navy and shipbuilder Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM) modified an existing design to incorporate USN specifications and weapon systems, the GAO noted in its report Navy Frigate Unstable Design Has Stalled Construction and Compromised Delivery Schedules released on 29 May.

“However, the navy's decision to begin construction before the design was complete is inconsistent with leading ship design practices and jeopardized this approach,” the GAO said.

“Further, design instability has caused weight growth,” the GAO reported. “The frigate's 3D design – a component of design stability – is incomplete over one year after construction began.”

The GAO said, “Delays in completing the ship design have created mounting construction delays. The navy acknowledges that the April 2026 delivery date, set in the contract at award, is unachievable. The lead frigate is forecasted to be delivered 36 months later than initially planned.”

The USN noted frigate construction issues in its recent 45-day review of troubled shipbuilding programmes. For more information on the review, please seeUS Navy seeks to address major programme delays caused by shipbuilding's new normal of worker and supply shortages .

USN officials declined to comment on 29 May about the report. FMM spokesperson Eric Dent told Janes , “We continue to work with our navy customer to complete the design and get [lead-ship frigate] Constellation completed and delivered.”

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