Home » Foreign Forces » Photo Gallery: Fincantieri Pitches Frigate Design in Baltimore


Photo Gallery: Fincantieri Pitches Frigate Design in Baltimore

ITS Alpino (F-594) in Baltimore. USNI News Photo

BALTIMORE, Md. — When the Italian FREMM-class frigate ITS Alpino (F-594) sailed into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor earlier this week, the ship was not just on a good will tour but offered a chance for its builder to show off their entry into the Navy’s new frigate design competition.Alpino was built by Italian ship builder Fincantieri, which through its Marinette, Wisc.-based subsidiary, Fincantieri Marine Group, is one of five ship builders vying for the contract to build the Navy’s next guided missile frigate (FFG(X)).

In February, Fincantieri Marine Group, along with Austal USA, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works and Huntington Ingalls Industries, were each awarded $15 million contracts to provide the Navy with designs as part of the bidding competition. The Navy plans to buy 20 frigates and has stated a contract award is expected in 2020.

During a recent USNI News tour of Alpino, one of the ship’s most noticeable attributes is its open space and systems redundancies. The frigate was built according to Italian Navy demands and using Italian navy technology but is designed to be updated throughout its expected service life.

USNI News Photo

Alpino’s bridge is based on design ideas Fincantieri uses for its commercial shipping business. The captain and helmsman have near panoramic sightlines. The bridge has a station next to the helmsman for the chief engineer, one for operations which can also become a bridge-CIC. Each console is duplicative. The navigator can stand against the front windows, and if needed, can use a joystick to steer the ship.

USNI News Photo

Sailors, using unique logins, can access their job-specific information at computer terminals throughout the ship – on the bridge, in engineering, or the combat information center. Engineering staff can adjust systems through computer controls, or if needed, using manual controls.

USNI News Photo

The Italians use either a 3-inch or 5-inch gun on the bow, depending on the ship’s mission – general purpose patrols or submarine hunting. Behind the gun are 16 vertical launch system tubes, but company officials stated there’s enough room to install 32 VLS tubes.

Amidships, Alpino had TESEO anti-ship missile launchers installed, but the space is large enough to accommodate a range of over-the-horizon anti-ship missile systems. Alpino’s stern hosts space for close-range anti-ship and anti-missile defense weapons.

USNI News

The U.S. Navy has stated it wants the FFG(X) to have room for one MH-60R Seahawk helicopter. The Fincantieri design can fit two. Alpino arrived with one NH-90 helicopter onboard. The ship’s helicopter recovery process does not require any personnel on the flight deck. The helicopter lands on a claw that locks the aircraft in place and can be retracted into the hangar bay.

USNI News

Alpino is designed with one galley facility to serve the different dining areas for enlisted sailors, chiefs, and officers.

USNI News Photo

Alpino’s Enlisted living room, adjacent to enlisted galley.

USNI News Photo

Alpino Chief’s mess.

USNI News Photo

Alpino’s Wardroom.

USNI News Photo

Alpino has espresso machines for enlisted, chiefs, and officers. Pictured above is the Wardroom espresso machine.

Berthing includes a head for each stateroom. At the most, four enlisted are assigned to one stateroom.

USNI News Photo

Most officers have single rooms, but these can be made into doubles to accommodate additional staff. Some special operations crew members are in six-person staterooms, depending on their mission.


USNI News Photo

Alpino heads include toilet, bidet, and heated towel drying rack.

USNI News Photo

Alpino heads have a built-in hairdryer.

  • thebard3

    That’s a pretty comfortable design for a navy ship.

  • Ser Arthur Dayne

    Now this what I’m talking about. Imagine if we had an order/fleet of 50 FREMMs. We’d have enough to to equip EVERY Carrier Strike Group & Amphibious Ready Group with at least one, if not two FREMM FFGs ( with the possibility of each having 1 General Purpose variant & 1 specialized ASW variant) PLUS have 10-20 FFGs available for stand-alone missions — sea control/”crime” deterrence patrols, drug interdiction, maritime border security, etc.

    It is hard for me to believe that anyone other than our resident Grand Admiral ( with any of his several screennames) could actually state they’d rather have either of the LCSs over this.

    *ESPECIALLY* after they’re modified/slightly-spec’d to the US needs like the 32 VLS cells, SeaRAM, VDS/TACTASS, SPY-6, etc.

    • thebard3

      Maybe you didn’t notice that this is a 6000 ton+ ship? That doesn’t make a very good comparison to the LCS. It looks like about 3000 tons warship, 3000 tons love boat to me.

      • RDF

        Yes. Italian ships always look great. Does look like a cruise ship interior. Takes more than looks. Probably got towed over to the outer reaches of the harbor.

        • PolicyWonk

          On the happier side, we haven’t had any news reporting breakdowns of FREMMs on the open seas, during transit, etc.

          W/r/t to LCS, all we can do is pray we don’t suffer the same indignity the Russians do (having to deploy LCS with a tug boat, just in case), which is probably why they remain welded to the pier.

          • We do have the report that the Syrian strike was a mess, with a back up ship needing to launch because the primary couldn’t for some undisclosed reason.

          • E1 Kabong

            What reports?

          • Google “France Had Some Issues Firing Ze Missiles During The Syria Strikes” and you’ll get an article from Task & Purpose.

          • E1 Kabong

            So, that makes the whole operation “a mess”?

          • H__K

            So they had a software or missile interface bug firing their cruise missiles for the first time in combat. What does that have to do with FFG(X) when:

            a) All of FFG(X)’s combat and weapon systems will be standard USN issue

            b) It’s the Italian variant that’s on offer, not the French one (similar hulls, completely different combat and weapon systems)

      • Duane

        To meet the Navy performance and cost requirements will necessitate a frigate of about 4,000 to 4,500 long tons. You pay for ships by the ton, more than any other factor.

      • PolicyWonk

        Indeed – but having comfortable living quarters does make for a happier crew. And if you have to spend a lot of time at sea, which our sailors do, and you have crew retention/recruiting problems, which we do, then maybe upgrading all that sissy-damn wood paneling to steel, painted a lovely shade of “haze grey” would be nicer?

        FREMM does have a lot of room for growth, and they did design them to be easy to alter/upgrade. This is, however, a 6000 ton ship, while a Burke (Flight I) is ~8000 tons (Flight IIa is ~9000).

        BTW – most of us wouldn’t normally compare a real frigate to an LCS – the only reason why we tend to compare them was due to an appallingly stupid idea on the part of the USN, to consider “upgrading” LCS to be a frigate.

        The analysis commissioned by Breaking Defense to explore such an idea concluded any such upgrading of LCS, due to its poor basic (sea-frame) design and subsequent lack of room for growth, would render merely a “marginal” improvement to the LCS. Hence – even under ideal circumstances (i.e. every promise regarding the LCS classes claimed by PEO LCS was the reality), it would still render a lousy frigate.

      • E1 Kabong

        Ask the Royal Navy how their retention rates are for crews.

        You sure haven’t spend 6-9 months cramped on a ship…

        • thebard3

          I spent 2 years on a Perry class frigate.

          • E1 Kabong

            Still there?

          • thebard3

            The espresso maker and bidet would not have been enough to make me re up.

          • E1 Kabong

            Agreed.
            They’d have to at least throw in a spa and swimming pool.

    • DaSaint

      None, repeat NONE, of the Italian Navy systems would be used.

      In essence, this is an empty hull. So, the discussions are going to be on hull characteristics, including quietness, volume for growth, existing capacity for power generation, and cost.

      That’s it.

      None of the angular superstructure features or mast would ever be embraced by the USN. And as far as interior fit and finish – great – but again will have to be to USN specs. In other words, the interior will also be reconfigured with typical USN finishes as well.

      Would have been a nice interior though, and shows their cruise lineage.

      • proudrino

        None, repeat NONE, of the Italian Navy systems would be used.

        That’s not necessarily true. Certainly stuff like the systems used for engine or environmental control would not be redesigned.

        • Duane

          If none of the Italian systems will be used, then FREMM fails completely on the buider experience requirements, which entails experience integrating the specified GFE, all of which happens to be integrated on LCS or the LCS-based Saudi MMCS frigate, which uses Mk 41 VLS.

          FREMM fails on system integration experience, cost, delivery schedule … in other words, FREMM fails on everything that matters in the FFG(X) design competiriin.

          • H__K

            Nope. 90% of the critical GFE hasn’t been integrated aboard LCS either (EASR, sonar, decoys, SSMs etc).

            So both LCS designs will have to start integration basically from scratch – no advantage there. In fact they will be at a disadvantage because of the lack of volume/weight margins, especially topsides, which will make physical integration a lot more difficult on LCS.

          • Lazarus

            No, the LCS FFGX design eschews the high speed element which allows for plenty of internal space/weight/power/cooling margins.

          • H__K

            I have not seen that confirmed anywhere… just speculation.

            Topside weight/space margins will likely still be a problem. Simplifying propulsion deep down in the hull does nothing to solve that. To improve GM/stability you need more internal subdivision, more weight deep in the hull, possibly also a new hull shape. To free up space topside you need to significantly rearrange superstructure arrangements and intakes/uptakes…

            Anyway with all those changes what would be left of LCS? It’s like Spruance to Tico or Hornet to Super Hornet.

          • NavySubNuke

            Hey hey hey – don’t go pointing out all that truth —- Laz and Duane are true believers and true believers don’t worry about letting things like the truth get in the way of a good fictional narrative!
            Just a few threads down from this one Laz was telling everyone how a French FREMM does all the missions of a DDG – despite not being equipped with SPY, only having 16 VLS cells, and being equipped with a VDS that is vastly superior to the sonar on the majority of our DDGs….

          • Lazarus

            That’s what at least one potential entrant has said. Neither LCS has stability problems. The LCS hulls each have 180 tons of reserve weight for modules, fuel and other equipment and filling that space is not an issue. Additional F/O, a compensated F/O system and additional weapons and sensors also serve to add weight. Finally, just lengthening the Hull adds to stability. Internal subdivision has no influence on stability unless in terms of damage control and limiting free surface area so not sure why you mentioned that?

        • PolicyWonk

          WHAT? We wouldn’t keep the expresso machine?

          • kaigun2

            How about the bidets?

          • PolicyWonk

            I knew *someone* would bring that up 😀

            I’ve never seen a bidet on a USN ship, though it might be a nice option for the Littoral Combat HS-O (Homeless Shelter-Optional) mission package.

            The Italians do have their priorities. As my uncle has pointed out, he was part of a brigade that liberated our POW’s from an Italian POW camp as we worked out way “up the boot” during WW2. The prisoners had been pretty well cared for, and were even issued a wine ration (the Italians considered it a necessity) while imprisoned.

    • Manny

      Is yo many factor When you building a ship for the navy, and every country have different specification, now is a beatiful ship with a nice interior, that’s work for a fight or for luxury?, they way they describe is sound to me like is a big boy on the water and I respect that, now how long can travel with the tank full without stop, how fast can be when need to fight submarine, destroyer, or even a torpedo, sometime small and fast make more damage than anything else, good example jet li, small fast and I bet money on that boy, so everybody have way different to see what they want to see, or what they hear from other people, I hope you will see in person 1 of the lcs build by austal.

    • NavySubNuke

      SPY-6 would be a bit overkill but other than that I agree with you.
      Especially the VDS – the french FREMMs with VDS are absolutely amazing for theatre ASW operations.
      All that capability for really not all that much more than an LCS and mission module costs.

      • Ser Arthur Dayne

        NSN-

        It was my understanding that SPY-6 is designed from the start to be “modularly scalable” — ie, it can be bigger and smaller (and therefore more or less capable) depending on what you need it to be directly based on size. They wanted to be able to have it available for use on future ships of several different types and classes and simply be plug-and-play with different sizes for different ships/different strengths.

        I actually just went into the formal FFG(X) proposal to check and here is the quote:

        “Similar to the original FF, the primary mission areas for the FFG(X) will be AntiSubmarine Warfare, Surface Warfare, and Electromagnetic Maneuver Warfare. In addition, the FFG(X) will provide upgraded Air Warfare capability and improved
        lethality and survivability that include a scaled SPY-6 Fixed Array Radar, Standard Missile, Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile, full Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement {it continues yada yada yada}”

        So it actually will have SPY-6, it’s just that the size of the array faces will be scaled down smaller than on the new DDG-51 FLT IIIs , to fit the FFG(X).

        Anyway I don’t meant to nitpick, certainly not with you, just wanted to make a point of clarification.

        • NavySubNuke

          It will be interesting to see how they are able to scale it down and how much the price scales with it!

    • Duane

      Why on earth would the Navy ever do as you so fervently wish, which is to create a new class of half-assed AEGIS destroyers when we already have, and continue to build, the real deal, and when we clearly would never settle for such an inferior ship that will still be double the cost of FFG(X)? Not only would that be senseless, but read the darned FFG(X) design requirements and it is clear the Navy has no intentions for such a half-assed and horrendously expensive ship.

      We’ll continue to have a high-low mix of large surface combatants – DDG-51 Flight III, and eventually its replacement which is already under development now as the Future Surface Combatant – and small surface combatants as the FFG(X), and its inevitable replacement in a decade or two.

    • Ed L

      The French Navy version bow designed for the Atlantic similar to the modifications to the bow of the Knox class frigates to deflect spray and water. A hurricane bow. The forecastle (linehandling and anchor windlass capstan) on both the French and Italian are enclosed.

      • Ser Arthur Dayne

        I hear you- for the FFG(X) , the Italian FREMMs are the basis of the project for submitting a FFG(X) design. And by all accounts, the Italian variants are much better than the French. The French insisted on several things and design changes that the Italians didn’t agree with but theirs are better. Really the only big plus on the French is the land-attack cruise missile module, which was not a consideration for the Italian GP nor ASW ships (but would be entirely possible should they need to in case of major war etc.)

    • PolicyWonk

      Well, in all fairness to the Grand Admiral Of the Fleet, I absolutely agree with him that the USN desperately needs a littoral combat platform. Unfortunately, after blowing over $36B on hyper-expensive/commercial-grade utility boats, we won’t be any closer to having one.

    • USNVO

      Well, anyone can think of an impossible plan.

      • Ser Arthur Dayne

        Profound.

    • Secundius

      A CBG is only a Fast as the Slowest Member in the CBG! While AC is capable of exceeding 30-knots, the Italian FREMM “Isn’t”. It’s only capablt of 27-knots…

  • ElmCityAle

    Built-in hairdryer? Take our money! But seriously, could this realistically be built and equipped with the required US navy systems within the target budget? If it costs almost as much as a Burke, but has half the capabilities, what’s the point?

    • Seriously, I think we may have a winner here. I’d say make the deal on the FREMM and get the FREMM hull but outfit it with American weapons, sensors and systems.

      • Duane

        You’re dreaming.

        • NavySubNuke

          Certainly. But in Nicky’s dreams we are building a frigate that would actually enhance our national security, provide actual capabilities to the fleet, and leave us with a Navy that is not only more likely to deter conflict but is more likely to be able to fight and win a war should deterrence fail.
          I realize to someone who hates America as much as you do that dream sounds like a nightmare – but to the rest of us it is a wonderful dream to consider.
          And there is at least the chance that the Navy will do the right thing and make our dreams come true.

        • E1 Kabong

          Says the guy who thinks the Little Crappy Ship is super-duper…

    • Lazarus

      Exactly. This is not a small surface combatant; it is a DDG and is used as such by the navies that possess it. The US considered buying such a ship in the 1980’s as the DGX, (cheaper version of the DDG 51) but went instead with the Burke. It is a middle size warship for which there is no defined US requirement.

      • NavySubNuke

        Laz – please provide your evidence for how the French are using their ASW equipped FREMMs as DDGs – since that is the version the US would almost certainly buy as part of FFG(X) – assuming you have any at all of course.
        In the operations I’ve participated in that have involved the French FREMMs over at CTF-69 they have in no way been used as DDGs so I am curious to see what evidence you have — assuming you aren’t just lying again.

        • Lazarus

          The FREMM is a general purpose large surface combatant and employed for the same missions as the DDG 51. The French and Italian navies each have a pair of designated DDG’s but use FREMM’s for many of the same missions since they could not afford a dozen Horizon class ships.

          • NavySubNuke

            Thank you for supplying nothing but meaningless and empty general statements as your evidence.
            I realize you lack the integrity to admit you are lying and just making excuses as to why we should buy more LCS instead of buying the much more capable FREMM so this empty bit of nonsense is the best I can expect.

          • Lazarus

            You have not demonstrated any fact-based evidence of how a DDG operates or how the French Navy operates its FREMM’s. If you disregard anecdotal evidence, then your assumptions are no more accurate than mine. At least I have written a number of fact-based articles on LCS. Where is your written evidence?

          • NavySubNuke

            The biggest and most obvious fact based evidence is their construction.
            The primary missions of US DDGs are to provide theater/battle group anti-air and anti-ballistic missile defense. They also provide extensive strike capabilities and have some ability to conduct limited ASW — especially those that have been modified with CAS.
            The French ASW FREMMs, which I specifically referenced, have no ability to conduct theater or battle-group anti-air warfare, no ability to conduct anti-ballistic missile warfare, very limited strike capability, but have extensive ASW capabilities thanks to their VDS.
            Anyone with even the slightest shred of integrity will realize that a French ASW FREMM can’t even begin to match the mission capability of a DDG assigned to a battle group or forward deployed to ROTA to provide an ABM capability in the Eastern Med.
            Nice try though.

          • You’re ignoring the fact that the French Navy is across the board less capable than the USN. Thus, to them, the FREMM is a 1st rate warship, akin to how we see the Burkes.

          • E1 Kabong

            How so?

          • What’s interesting about the French navy is that while they refer to all of their surface combatants as “frégate,” they assign “D” hull numbers to their front line ships and “F” hull numbers to their second line ships. The “D” ships are split between dedicated AAW ships (the Horizon and Cassard classes) and dedicated ASW ships (the FREMM and Georges Leygues classes). Thus, the ASW ships cannot be considered lesser than the AAW ships, merely filling a different role. As a final piece of evidence that all of the “D” ships are considered 1st rate warships, the French are planning on replacing the Cassard class AAW ships with a FREMM variant.

          • E1 Kabong

            So, what does the mighty USN have for frigate ASW duties?

            What’s the difference between a Tico and A-B?

          • There is no such thing as frigate ASW duties. Read about the history of the Navy’s Cold War DE/FF programs. If you want something that can adequately perform blue water ASW and defend itself against air attack, you’re looking at a 7k+ ton destroyer – see Spruance, Type 26, FREMM, and Asahi.

          • E1 Kabong

            “There is no such thing as frigate ASW duties.”?

            WOW….

            Here’s a definition of a “frigate”:

            “In modern navies, frigates are used to protect other warships and merchant-marine ships, especially as anti-submarine warfare (ASW) combatants for amphibious expeditionary forces, underway replenishment groups, and merchant convoys.”

            Read some credible sources.

            “…see Spruance, Type 26, FREMM, and Asahi.”?

            LOL!

            FREMM’s are FRIGATES.

            Type 26’s are FRIGATES.

          • “Read some credible sources” – is that what you were doing when you quoted Wikipedia for the definition of a frigate?

            FREMM and Type 26 are NOT frigates in the American sense of the term (a second string surface combatant mainly intended for convoy duties) as both are front line warships and are outfitted with the best combat systems available. They fill the exact tactical role as the Spruance’s and are as large and well armed as those destroyers.

          • E1 Kabong

            What are you using for references?

            The FREMM and Type 26 ARE frigates, in any navy’s vocabulary.

            What were the OHP’s?

            “They fill the exact tactical role as the Spruance’s and are as large and well armed as those destroyers.”?

            Nope.

            A Spruance DD displaces around 9200 t.

            A FREMM, around 6000 t.

            Better luck, next time.

          • You may want to invest in some sources other than Wikipedia.

            Spruance design full load displacement: 7,900 metric tons (Friedman, US Destroyers)
            Italian FREMM GP full load displacement: 6,700 metric tons (Italian Navy official website)

            While the Spruances were slightly larger, it was a difference of about 15%, not the over 50% you believe.

          • NavySubNuke

            I’m trying to figure out what this has to do with the discussion?
            A FREMM would be a first rate warship in almost any Navy in the world — what does that have to do with anything?
            And actually they have the Horizon class as a match for our Burkes.

          • Lazarus said FREMM was a large surface combatant and used for the same missions as the Burkes. You conflated that into him saying that the FREMM was a DDG and argued that was not the case because it is incapable of theater AAW and BMD. I then pointed out that if you change the frame of reference away from our extremely capable surface fleet, it would become quite clear that a FREMM is a large surface combatant – but since you just agreed with that statement I’m not sure why you were arguing with Lazarus in the first place.

            Also, a Horizon is nowhere near to being a match for a Burke – it has limited ASW capability, no land attack capability, and no BMD capability. Instead of having multirole warships, the French (like the British) split AAW and ASW/land attack between two different hulls – Horizon and FREMM.

          • NavySubNuke

            “Instead of having multirole warships, the French (like the British) split AAW and ASW/land attack between two different hulls – Horizon and FREMM.”
            Thank you for admitting I was correct when I pointed out Laz was wrong to say that “The FREMM is a general purpose large surface combatant and employed for the same missions as the DDG 51” since it is obviously not used for the missions.
            I still don’t understand why you care whether or not a FREMM would be a large surface combatant in another Navy when the issue is what it would be in the United States Navy. But whatever makes you happy.

          • Let’s make this simple. The Burke has 5 primary warfighting missions – area AAW, land attack, blue water ASW, theater BMD, and ASuW. FREMM has 3 primary missions – blue water ASW, land attack, and ASuW. Since both are front line warships, FREMM is thus quite clearly employed for the same missions as the Burke.

            The designation “large surface combatant” is not relative and exists independently of the nation that operates it. For example, no one would claim that a Sa’ar 5 is a large surface combatant, even if it is the largest warship in Israeli service. In America we have had our perspective horribly distorted by our current all-Aegis fleet. Adopting the perspective of another (quite powerful) nation, helps reveal that.

          • NavySubNuke

            I’m not sure if you realize this but 3 does not equal 5.
            Also it is a bit of stretch to compare the strike or “land attack” capabilities of a FREMM and a Burke.
            So once again – now the FREMM is not in any way employed in the same missions as a DDG — it can’t even accomplish half of the missions a DDG does.
            And again on the size of the ship — who cares? What exactly does “adopting the perspective of another” nation actually help reveal?
            If two ships are the same price and have the same capability are you really saying we should just go ahead and buy the smaller one because it more closely aligns with the “international” definition of a small surface combatant?

          • E1 Kabong

            Wow.

            You REALLY should read up on the FREMM program BEFORE posting meaningless, erroneous comments.

          • Lazarus

            Explain why erroneous?

          • E1 Kabong

            Cite a source, for once…

      • The DGX was a rather different concept – it was the size of a Burke but used less capable systems to bring down cost (eg NTU instead of Aegis). Honestly, I think an updated version of that idea would be vastly preferable to FFG(X).

        • Lazarus

          Problem is that the USN already has a “large” surface combatant and needs a larger number of small surface combatants for presence, sea control missions, etc. As we saw with DDG’s being used for counter-piracy, this is not a good use of resources (having an all high-end surface fleet.)

          • We definitely need more hulls. But designing a fleet around having a “small” and a “large” surface combatants is putting the cart before the horse. Setting a cost/size limit and then seeing how much capability you can get is not a sound policy and will result in badly compromised designs like the Perry. LCS was a good attempt at breaking that tradition, but several of the choices it made were questionable at best and the strategic picture has changed drastically since it was conceived.

            The last two times the USN tried to design a clean-sheet minimum surface combatant, it produced the Zumwalt and the Spruance. I think that needs to be taken as a hint – a ship with acceptable speed, endurance, seakeeping, and the systems needed to contribute to a war at sea will be a destroyer. Trying to cut corners results in Stark / Sheffield if you ever get into an actual fight.

            So how do we get more hulls? I would favor building some form of extremely austere patrol frigate (2x MH-60, RAM, 30mm) as a second generation LCS. That can handle most peace time tasks for maybe $300m. Then I would design a new DD class. Remember, the all-Aegis fleet was never intended, nor is it particularly desirable. A new DD with EASR/ESSM would be perfectly capable of self defense, could have a powerful ASW sensor suite with a SQS-53/SQR-20/VDS, and could carry a lot of offensive firepower (30+ TLAM/LRASM) – all at a significantly lower cost than an Aegis ship (probably $1.2-1.5b).

          • PolicyWonk

            Unfortunately, LCS, even after being available for 10 years, has yet to demonstrate any ability to perform either presence or sea control missions, despite being equipped with its mucho-awesome/most-bestest/bar-none/uber-fearsome/terror-inducing/taxpayer-reaming SUW mission package.

            We’d be better off buying more Legend class NSC’s, and sending them on the same missions. We’d have a stronger Coast Guard, a better inventory of of useful ships, and avoid offending sensible taxpayers while ridding ourselves of a blatant corporate welfare program.

        • ElmCityAle

          How much cost savings would be involved if one started with a current “restart” model (or even the next gen) and did not install the SPY-1D (substitute TRS-4D) and one or both rear 32 cell VLS blocks (but reserved the space for future expansion – or used some/all as hangar expansion for added drones)? That would get you a “Spruance” type DDG with much less AA (32 ESSM, 16 SM-2, 8 VL-ASROC), but still plenty of ASW capability.

          • I only have the figures for the Flight III in front of me, but the SPY-6 costs $170m, Aegis $130m, and all 96 VLS cells $52m. Interestingly, the 5″ gun and associated fire control is $30m. Other expensive items of note are the communications systems ($50m), ASW system ($41m), and reduction gears ($37m). All in all, a stripped down Burke would probably run a bit under $1.5b. However, if you went with a new, smaller, hull, you could probably get an EASR/64 cell VLS destroyer for around $1.25b. That could give you something like 32x TLAM/LRASM, 48x ESSM, 20x ASROC for some real magazine depth (no SM-6 since you wouldn’t really have the combat systems to take advantage of it).

    • NavySubNuke

      We are already wasting half as much as a Burke with a fraction of the capability on each LCS.
      $640M per ship
      $169M per ship for post delivery modifications and outfiting
      $134M per mission module (average cost for all 48 modules including the 4 that will never deploy)
      Add that all up and we are spending over $900M for a ship that isn’t supposed to go into combat, can’t reliably deploy, and relies an extensive army of contractors to properly maintain it thanks to the sweetheart “proprietary maintenance” agreements that leave sailors unable to touch most of the equipment in their own engineroom.
      FREMMs, in a European configuration, cost around $800M. Even if integrating US systems and building in a US shipyard adds 20% extra cost that is still barely more expensive than an LCS for a ship that is about 1/2 as capable as a DDG vs. an LCS which doesn’t have 1/10th the capability of a DDG.
      Seems like a good bargain to me.

    • Duane

      The answer is no, clearly no. The single biggest determinant of warship cost is size. At about 6,000 tons, there is no freaking way it will come in anywhere less than $1.0 to $1.2B. Probably more like $1.4-1.5B.

      The Navy wants FFG(X) at no more than $800M. The only competitors that can possibly meet that cost with the required GFE and meeting the Navy’s required delivery of FY2025 are the two LCS-derived designs. And of those two designs, the LM-Fincanteri-built Freedom variant that has already been sold as a frigate to Saudi Arabia is the cheapest and most likely winner.

      • H__K

        Nope. A bare DDG-51 hull costs only $700M (Basic Construction cost). LCS is $350M BCC, which will increase to >$400M once all mods are made.

        A 6,000t FREMM is about halfway between those 2, with half the propulsion of an LCS, and a simpler modular build (due to not being a glorified speedboat). It should easily meet the USN target of <$495M BCC.

        Add the USN-required equipment list ($300-350M in GFE) and FREMM can easily be built for under $1B.

        • PolicyWonk

          The costs associated with LCS are in excess of $600M, and requires an additional $100M yard work immediately thereafter. But you can’t have an LCS without a mission package, so you have to add the cost of the mission package ($136M, on average). In total, the US taxpayers are required to spend ~$836M.

          The comparative costs associated with FREMM vs. LCS are therefore incremental, and we get a far more useful ship.

          Unfortunately, however, despite the horrifying cost of these “littoral combat ships” (either the ones tied to the pier, or a-building on the slipways), the USN remains without a littoral combat platform.

          • ElmCityAle

            The diversity of claimed costs for LCS is fascinating. Every post seems to have a different set of numbers and claims to support them.

          • PolicyWonk

            Mine do tend to be rounded down a bit (compared to some others), because I try to leave the hyperbolic flaming out of the discussion (admittedly, not always with success). Even so, these LCS classes are remarkably expensive given the incredibly poor ROI, and are far more expensive now than when our allies (initially interested in the LCS concept) turn them down cold, saying they were far too expensive for such small ROI.

            The Saudi variant, loosely based on the Freedom class, is considerably larger, far better equipped, and is almost unrecognizable when compared to the Freedom itself (the resemblance is there if you squint, kinda like a 1984 Ford Escort looks like a Porche Turbo Carrerra if you squint enough). The Saudis needed an SSC, and bought one at a considerably better price point than the USN did w/r/t LCS.

          • ElmCityAle

            The design shown publicly in January looks to be 90% similar with the current Freedom class – same hull size. Most notable changes are 57mm gun moved forward and a single 8-cell VLS installed behind it, with two Saab Illuminators (front and back) higher up. The usual 8-tube Harpoon setup is shown on the rear upper level as well as 2 x 20mm remote guns and SeaRAM (a change from the 21-cell RAM launcher usually installed on that class.

      • Kypros

        Just curious, why do you think the Huntington Ingalls FFG(x) proposal doesn’t have a chance?

      • The biggest determinant of warship cost is not size, it just seems that way because navies tend not to build ships larger than they need to. On a Flight III Burke, only half the cost is construction while the other half is combat systems. Thus, you could double the size of the hull and the total cost of the ship would increase by less than 50%

  • I don’t believe the FFG(X) program is a good idea, but if the Navy is serious about having a modern frigate I’m having a difficult time seeing why FREMM wouldn’t be the best option. 32 VLS, 2 medium helicopters, 30+ knots, and nearly 7000nm of endurance at 15 knots (although I do wonder how fast it can go on diesels alone).

    • NavySubNuke

      Alright, I’ll bite —- why wouldn’t the FFG(x) program be a good idea?
      For just a little more (10% – 20%) than we are already spending on each LCS with mission module we could have an actual combatant capable of getting underway, successfully completing a deployment, and engaging in combat with our enemies. Rather than just being tied to the pier or rushed out of any theater where combat is likely a ship like the FREMM could not only provide an actual determined presence in peacetime but it could continue to support the Navy after conflict begins.
      We’ve already publicly seen a FREMM participate in strikes against Syria. The ships have also been incredibly useful in supporting a number of other operations I have personally been involved in. The performance of the FREMM more than anything has been what convinced me that the LCS program is a complete and utter failure. While our ships sit in port unable to deploy French FREMMs that were build years after are out there right now supporting our Navy and supporting the international order and rules the US and allies established after World War II.
      They truly are remarkable ships and we would be lucky to have them in our fleet – especially in comparison to an LCS.

      • Lazarus

        You have just shown where the FREMM is in fact a DDG. A US SSC is a Sea Control, not a power projection ashore unit.

        • NavySubNuke

          I’ve shown nothing of the sort but I understand your need to grasp at straws to make your lies seem more credible.
          Just because a vessel can also be used for land attack doesn’t mean it is automatically a DDG.
          It is possible to build ships that are both low cost and actually capable of accomplishing multiple missions even if the LCS isn’t.

        • The problem is, navies exist to project power ashore. With only a 57mm gun, FFG(X) is singularly incapable of doing that. As it is, I’m 75% certain that FFG(X) is going to end up as an overpriced LCS with ESSM that has no actual mission in peace or war and that will upset every side of the debate.

          • Lazarus

            Sea Control is also a core naval mission.

          • ElmCityAle

            I would be surprised is there is ever again a serious use of naval gunfire with shore targets, simply because it’s too dangerous to get within gun range due to ASMs (and not to mention the lack of likely missions requiring it).

          • I fully agree with that and would prefer to see a decent number of land attack missiles (fun fact: a 5″ gun and 500 rounds weighs as much as a loaded 16 cell VLS – invent a quad pack land attack weapon and that is 64 missiles). But even a 5″ gun would be a vast improvement over the current FFG(X) spec, which is completely incapable of doing something as simple as attacking a pirate camp – let alone damaging the naval bases of an actual country.

      • A frigate hits an extremely poor cost/capability ratio because you are paying for a bunch of (expensive) combat systems, but not the (relatively cheap) weapons to take advantage of them. FFG(X) is looking at up to 32x VLS and 8x AShM. What can you carry with 32 VLS? Best I can see, you get 32x ESSM, 16x SM-6, and 8x ASROC. That is a decent self-defense capability, and has some limited utility for area defense, but it is doesn’t have much combat endurance and is entirely lacking in offensive capability – the two things we need the most if we are building these ships because LCS can’t fight the PLAN.

        To have serious defensive capability, a ship needs 30-40x SM-6 and 16-24x ASROC. Further, 8 subsonic AShM’s is little more than a feel-good measure – there is a reason why the Soviets put 12-20 supersonic missiles on their premier ship-killers and why the USN wanted 30-60 Tomahawk and Harpoon on its last generation of Cold War ships. Of course, once you add all these numbers up, you arrive at the 80-90 VLS of an Arleigh Burke or Zumwalt (which is hardly a coincidence).

        So basically, I believe that the Euro-style frigates are mainly prestige ships that take little consideration of what is actually required of a warship. The Navy will find a use for them, but FFG(X) will spend that vast majority of its life doing nothing that a cheaper LCS could not, and being relegated to the same 2nd line work in the advent of a full scale war (you’d probably end up with them working in pairs as convoy escorts – the frigate for AAW and the LCS for ASW).

        • Adrian Ah

          I think you make good points. The FFG(X) will not be a high end fighting ship.You need about 120-130m of ship length to get enough space for decent engines, helicopter facilities, and all the sensors. Look at the ANZAC class frigate- it’s about that length, has really good sensors and software upgrades now. but could only use 8vls.

          At about 145m, you can put about 32 VLS, as seen by most European frigate/destroyer designs. Spain put 48 VLS, but has x1 helo and it’s range is 2000nm less than the FREMM and Type 26.

          As ARCNA says- to get enough weapons to take advantage of all that, you need soemthing longer, the size of a proper destroyer 160m+.

          I disagree that the FFG(X) program is not necessary though. The FFG(X) is what the LCS should have been- something to take on lower end tasks. Let the FFG(X) go to the Middle East and also do anti piracy, so the Arleigh Burkes can focus on China.

    • Duane

      The reason why FREMM won’t work is because it is a half assed destroyer, not a frigate. It is as big as most destroyers in service today around the world, but too small to be an effective air and missile defense/land attack destroyer. The 6,000T FREMM is a compromise fit only for navies that cannot afford a DDG-51 at $2+B each, but provides little if any more capability than a 4,000-4,500T frigate with state of the art OTH missiles, missile defenses, AEGIS-derived battle management system, ASW systems, aviation assets, and area air defenses.

      The bottom line is if the builders can fit everything required for FFG(X) into a hull of 4,000 to 4,500 tons, the navy would be nuts to pay for a 6,000T hull … or the fancy Italian cruise ship amenities.

      • Let’s put your list of capabilities in terms of actual systems – at minimum that is going to be 8x NSM, 32x ESSM, EASR, a lightweight VDS, SVTT, and 1x MH-60. Now, you can fit that on 4k tons (although that’s basically the armament of the 5.5k ton Nansen class), but it is a somewhat underwhelming ship that brings little to the table.

        If you want some actual firepower, its going to take something more like 32x VLS (16x SM-6, 32x ESSM, 8x ASROC), 8x LRASM, EASR, bow sonar, VDS, TAS, SVTT, and 2x MH-60. That’s going to require a 6k ton hull – especially if you want enough growth margins that the ships last a full 30 years.

        Finally, while the Italian ship certainly well furnished I highly doubt the USN would do the same. So all that extra space and weight can be dedicated to additional crew and combat systems.

  • Ed L

    Beautiful lethal fighting ship. I have always like visiting British Italian and French ships. Especially since they are wet

  • Desplanes

    THAT’s a ship.

  • GEEZ, That’s one SWEET FRIGATE. How much and HOW DAMN SOON can they deliver and can we take it for a Test spin around the block before we put the cash up front. I’d take that to sea anytime. If we can get enough to cover for every Carrier battle group, Amphibious ready group and every Surface Action Group.

  • Spencer Whitson

    Somehow I don’t think that’s exactly affordable enough to make it worth it.

  • Adrian Ah

    Probably the most important criteria for the FFG(X) is price. Does the US have a sensor package, or are they willing to use an overseas sensor package, which can reduce the price?

    FREMM can probably be built under USD$900m. Just depends what the final features will be.

    Agree with Ser Arthur Dayne. Would be great to get 50 of these for the USN.

    • Lazarus

      Why would you assume such a ship could be built by the US defense acquisition system for such a low price?

      • Duane

        For the LCS haters, facts don’t matter. Thus it is in every tiresome thread here.

        • Lazarus

          Yep. Always the same 10 people or so.

          • NavySubNuke

            You should see thing from our perspective though. On the one side you have people who love America and want what is best of our nation and for our sailors.
            On the other side we have you and Duane deliberately lying and spreading misinformation.
            Just because the two of you want to see US national security harmed and don’t care about the lives of our sailors doesn’t mean the rest of us should allow your lies to go unchallenged.
            It would be interesting to one day find out what your tie is to this program — what is it that has made you so willing to trade your integrity for your full throat-ed and unwavering support of this failed effort?

          • PolicyWonk

            Yo NSN –

            I do find myself wondering, as you imply, who’s side these guys are on? Because it sure doesn’t seem to be the side of the USN, US national security, or the lives of the sailors ordered to man these floating corporate welfare programs.

          • NavySubNuke

            Agreed – especially with Duane.

        • NavySubNuke

          LOL – projecting again Duane?
          I realize you and Laz would be happier if we didn’t point out your lies but it isn’t going to happen.

      • H__K

        Why not? Bigs hulls are cheap – it’s the systems that add cost. But since every FFG(X) candidate will have the same systems (about $300-350M in GFE), they will compete on the basic platform cost, design/integration costs, and through-life costs.

        Why do you think FREMM can’t meet the USN target platform cost of $400M BCC after all the required mods are made. That’s not counting the expensive design/integration man-hours to cram all the requirements into a too-small hull, and the through-life costs of the LCS drivetrain, tight maintenance access pathways, and lack of weight/volume margins.

        So why can’t FREMM be a lot cheaper than LCS?

        • Lazarus

          Because it would need to be built within the US defense acquisition system and would need major mods to join US service. State owned European shipbuilders have so far proven unable to build more than 5 or 6 of these ships to designed cost. Those shipbuilders also have civilian projects against which to offset delays common in the US defense acquisition system. The monopsony relationship that US shipyards have with the US govt would further drive up the price. FREMM seems a loser on most counts.

          • H__K

            This has nothing to do with Europe (your favorite red herring).

            I’m talking about the fact that a DDG-51 costs $700M basic construction cost.

            Why do you think Marinette (which is a cheaper yard than HII and BIW) can’t build a smaller 6,000t ship with half the propulsion for the USN’s target of <$495M BCC???

            You have no facts to back your smokescreens.

          • Lazarus

            You have not demonstrated any evidence to suggest that the numbers achieved by state-owned European shipyards and built to European standards could be achieved within the US Defense Acquisition system. Companies like Fincanteria, Navantia, etc. operate under a very different set of circumstances than do US shipbuilding annexes of defense corporations.
            Also, the requirement is for a small surface combatant, not another DDG.

            I know things look awesome from the think tank sidelines, but if you had done a DoD acquisition tour, you would understand why foreign designs just do not readily integrate into the US system with the ease and low cost that you suggest.

          • H__K

            You have not demonstrated any evidence that it CANNOT be done cost effectively.

            The fact that both LCS are foreign designs built by foreign-owned US shipyards negates your argument. If that is good enough for the DoD why wouldn’t FREMM also be satisfactory?

            Perhaps you are arguing that nothing can be done without a major US systems integrator like GD, LM or Raytheon… Well they will still be involved through the $300M+ in GFE that will be integrated. They just won’t get their greasy hands on the platform.

            I don’t see why Fincantieri/Marinette can’t do a better shipbuilding and platform integration job than the hacks at GD/Austal or LM.

          • Al L.

            Laz: “You have not demonstrated any evidence to suggest that the numbers achieved by state-owned European shipyards and built to European standards could be achieved within the US Defense Acquisition system.”

            H-K: “The fact that both LCS are foreign designs built by foreign-owned US shipyards negates your argument. If that is good enough for the DoD why wouldn’t FREMM also be satisfactory?”

            The fact that the DOD accepted 2 foreign owned ship yards to build foreign design ships and now they are well over assumed cost only proves that accepting a third to do the same is likely to turn out the same: well over assumed cost.

          • Lazarus

            Neither LCS is a “foreign” design in that they have not been built by any other foreign developer before being constructed for the USN. You assume that a FREMM (as a foreign design) can be built in the US within the US Defense Acquisition system for the same cost as it is within European systems. That’s the problem. I have no doubt that FREMM could be built in the US, but its cost is debatable. It is also debatable whether or not the FREMM is in fact a “small surface combatant” as the Navy desires.

          • Adrian Ah

            Wait…….Neither LCS is a foreign design?

            Austal designed and built the Independence class. Austal is Australian.

            Let’s take a reverse scenario.

            Australia wants a LCS, and Bath Iron Works presents it’s design and Australia chooses it. Surely that means the LCS is an American design. ie–> it’s foreign, to Australia.

            So how can the Austal design, which is based off a trimaran Austal makes in Perth, Australia, not be a foreign design?

          • Al L.

            “Why do you think Marinette (which is a cheaper yard than HII and BIW) can’t build a smaller 6,000t ship with half the propulsion for the USN’s target of <$495M BCC???"

            You do realize Marinette is building the Fincantieri based LCS and its costs, budget compliance, schedule compliance and quality are all lagging behind Austal, and delaying ship deliveries months to years behind the target dates?

            FREMM is not a magic wand that Fincantieri can wave to overcome US market and government frictions.

            And theres no evidence Marinette is cheaper than HII and BIW on equal ships.

          • PolicyWonk

            In all fairness, LCS isn’t even remotely close to being built to designed cost (even accounting for the poor design). Part of the huge cost increase was directly attributed (by PEO LCS) to the initial sea-frames being upgraded to the Level-1 standard (while a-building on the slipways) due to the mountain of complaints from the taxpayers and HoR’s.

            Lamentably, years later, Defense Industry Daily reported that PEO LCS admitted that no version of LCS, past, present, or future, would ever meet any US navy construction standard.

            To put it simply, the PEO LCS blatantly lied to the HoR’s and taxpayers, and the cost increases were never justified by the obviously lousy result(s).

            The continued support of this criminal enterprise, by just a few posting on this (and other sites of similar nature) forum, has been noted by the large majority that consider this program a travesty (to be generous).

          • Lazarus

            The $220m figure is 15+ years old and was never viable beyond a few claims by the CNO.
            I don’t think that you have any idea of how PEO USC works. Would you like to meet some of those folks? I can arrange that,
            PEO USC never “lied” to anyone. You have never posted ANY proof of any of your accusations here or anywhere else.

          • NavySubNuke

            True – the actual requirements in the CDD were $80M to $150M if I remember correctly – though those weren’t adjusted for inflation.
            Either way the $900M+ we are spending for each fully “equipped” LCS (including mission modules) is far in excess of what the Navy envisioned when this program began.
            It really is hard to believe the Navy is paying 1/2 the cost of a DDG for a ship that provides (at best) 1/10th the capability of one —- when it can actually get underway and not suffer a major engineering casualty that is…

          • PolicyWonk

            BRAVO SIERRA. Again.

            I’ve been watching the “program that broke naval acquisition” (this, according to the USN itself), since its inception, with a great deal of interest. Initially excited at the prospect that we’d finally get the littoral combat platform we’ve been lacking for decades, I have only been rewarded with one huge disappointment after another.

            Note that the USN disagrees with your assessment of how PEO (now USC) LCS works, due to the dubious distinction it has since been awarded.

            The article I referenced in Defense Industry Daily discussed the initial claims and/or reasons regarding/justifying the tremendous cost increases made by what was then called PEO LCS, which they clearly knew at the time were completely false. The same facts were later confirmed on Breaking Defense (in a subsequent article).

            That you don’t like references that demonstrate the lack of candor on the part of PEO LCS/USC isn’t my problem, but it does back up my opinion (while weakening your position).

            Cheers.

          • Lazarus

            Again, a bunch of your opinions not supported by any facts.

          • PolicyWonk

            Your refusal to accept or confirm the existence of said facts (presumably because they don’t support your obviously biased/baseless opinion) doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

            But they certainly do, and fully support my statements/opinions, while ripping the rug out from under yours.

          • Lazarus

            You are repeating slogans and not facts. I have NEVER seen you cite any specific data other than rumor and hearsay.

          • PolicyWonk

            YAWN…

            You really need a new way of justifying your position, other than denying the existence of the mountains of evidence that fails to support your opinion.

            Its tiresome.

          • NavySubNuke

            “The $220m figure is 15+ years old and was never viable beyond a few claims by the CNO”
            Liar liar pants on fire. This is an excellent example of your complete and utter lack of integrity by the way.
            The Capabilities Decision Document for LCS has specific threshold and objective cost numbers for LCS and that number was what the program was supposed to be held to. Luckily LCS had enough congressional support that despite failing to meet a number of its Key Performance Parameters the Navy was allowed to keep wasting money on it.
            Nice try though.

        • Al L.

          Your DDG-51 Flt 2 costs as a basis for that assumption makes no sense.

          1. With a total cost of 1.8 billion, and a “platform” cost of $700m that would make the GFE value $1.1 billion. There isnt $1.1 billion of GFE on a Flt 2.

          2. If theres $1.1 billion of GFE on Flt 2, the GFE on a FFG(x) will cost much more than $300-350M.

          3. The hull cost of a flight 2 is based on a ship built on production lines now established for 30 years by 2 builders. There no such production capacity for a FREMM in the US.

          • H__K

            I don’t have the DDG Flt IIA numbers in front of me so from rough memory:

            $700M basic construction cost
            $700M GFE
            $100M design & delivery costs
            = $1.5B total acquisition cost

            That’s for a build rate of 2 hulls/year (apples to apples with LCS and FFG(X). Decreasing the build rate increases costs to $1.8B but the same is true for LCS.

            So FFG(X)’s GFE is roughly half the cost of a DDG. That sounds about right given the huge jump in C4, AAW and BMD capability, number of weapon systems etc.

          • Al L.

            Doesnt match current data. Restarts are 1.8+ billion current dollars for 2/ year. The 2018 budget proposal considered the addition of a third DDG-51 flt 2, and it marginal cost over 2 ships was $1.75 -1,896.8 million . (Flt 3 changes to be a later add to the contract via ECP) Which means 3.5 to 3.65 billion for 2 built in 1 ship yard or 1.75 to 1.825 each. In addition there is almost always backfunding for fully funded ships in follow on budgets for added costs. ($51M this year) So the current expected cost is over 1.8 billion. All info available in CRS 7-5700 2018. You cant use old unadjusted costs to talk about a future ship. Number you use look like they are years old.

          • H__K

            $1.5B was the last reported DDG 51 IIA cost before Flt III orders started confusing the SCN numbers. That was in FY15 for ship construction in 2016-2021, ie. current costs.

          • Al L.

            Nope. Same CRS report 2014:
            “The Navy’s proposed FY2014 budget requested $1,615.6 million to complete the procurement funding for the one DDG-51 requested for procurement in FY2014. The Navy estimated the total procurement cost of this ship at $1,729.7 million. ”

            Thats $1,826.77 in 2018. And it does not include whatever follow on funding the ship will need for cost growth. 1.5 billion was an estimate that has not come true. The lowest funding level was over 1.6 billion in 2016 for the 2017 FY which is near 1.8 billion today and those ships arent finished so costs will rise. CRS 3/2016: “The Navy estimates the combined procurement cost of the two DDG-51s requested for procurement in FY2017 at $3,393.9 million”

            If you have actual proof of recent DDGs actually costing 1.5 billion then show it.

            You have too assume too many favorable conditions and comparisons for the FREMM to argue it can be built in the proposed budget.

            A realistic look at the history, conditions and probabilities puts the ship well above the proposed budget.

          • H__K

            I can’t post links here but read the Navy’s SCN presidential budget documents. It’s the best source for detailed costs including basic construction cost, GFE, design, outfitting etc.

            You will find that that the 2 DDGs ordered in FY15 cost $3B, or $1.5B each incl. $730M each for basic construction cost.

          • Al L.

            Nope. You are excluding prior year completion costs and inflation and cherry picking the best year. Un-real-istic. Using the 2015 SCN book numbers for the 2014 DDG adjusted for inflation its current cost would be just shy of $2 billion.

            Using the 2013 SCN book the average cost of the 6 DDGs from 2012 to 2015 is $1.66 billion in unadjusted dollars. Thats easily 1.8 billion+ in 2018 dollars. And that again does not include the make up funding in future years.

            The current avg cost of a DDG flt 2 is about 1.8 billion (and may be more) Nothing but cherry picking info favors a $1.5 billion cost.

          • Lazarus

            Those costs are estimates at best. The Navy has a very poor track record in estimating the costs of new shipbuilding programs. referencing the DDG is fine, but it is a much more mature program built by known and capable suppliers. It is very doubtful that the Navy would get the FFGX’s budget so accurate as the DDG’s so early in the process.

          • A Flight III Burke is $1,737m total, with $887m of that being basic construction.

            Assuming basic construction scales proportionally to hull size and combat systems cost half as much as a Burke, that gives us $620m basic construction + $425m for a total of just over $1 billion.

          • Lazarus

            These are costs for an established program with relatively stable costs. A FREMM FFGX will not be so stable and cost fluctuations likely. The USN is historically very bad at estimating ship costs as well; suggesting that any of the FFGX choices will be more expensive than advertised.

          • H__K

            Partly concur. I think historically most USN blowouts have come from uncontrolled requirements growth and new, untested platforms and systems. LCS and DDG 1000 have both suffered from this.

            For FFG(X) the general consensus seems fairly optimistic that history won’t repeat itself. All the GFE is off the shelf, the requirements have been pressure tested through RFI and RFP stages, the platforms are proven, and you have multiple yards competing with “hot” production lines.

            If the USN screws this one up then it is beyond fixing.

        • Lazarus

          Lots of equipment on LCS is new/different to the USN. Early casualties to that equipment were mostly due to improper crew action. LCS 5 had a software problem (which you suggested with FREMM was not a big deal,) and LCS 4 had a defective engine coupling that has since been replaced. Sometimes even the best engineered equipment has failures that the Navy maintenance feedback system has to mitigate.
          LCS in fact has HUGE weight and volume margins. Even if accounting for helo fuel, LCS has 100 tons of reserve weight as compared with 19 tons on the FFG 7 for its entire life span. Weight growth in LCS is controlled via the modules. Why doesn’t anyone seem to get that!

          • PolicyWonk

            LCS in fact has HUGE weight and volume margins.
            ======================================
            Really? Perhaps, but only if you remove the mission packages (which kind of makes them useless), and those volume margins aren’t that HUGE, because weight problems are what has caused a lot of the delays with mission package development.

            And, given the USN’s IG’s comments, plus those of DOT&E, and the weapons analysis commissioned by Breaking Defense, all of them came to the same conclusion: both classes of LCS lack room for anything other than marginal growth for either weapons or protection.

            And this was implicitly agreed to by Adm. Greenert, when he said LCS was never intended to engage in combat (in the littorals, or presumably anywhere else). Since LCS wasn’t intended for combat, the room for growth was never designed into the platform (at least, without seriously hampering the performance of the ship).

            OTOH, both classes of LCS do admittedly perform almost as well as any other navy ship, when tied to the pier ;-P

    • The sensor package is already decided on and is part of the FFG(X) RFP.

  • proudrino

    Devil is going to be in the details. How much will each ship cost? Can US military technology be accommodated with the design? Can the crew maintain the ship without a army of contractors (sustainability being the biggest flaw in the LCS debacle). Will lobbyists for Austal USA, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works and Huntington Ingalls Industries storming Capitol Hill pressuring Congress to reject a foreign design work in making this a non-starter?

    And the most important question of all- Are bidets and espresso machines part of the standard package or an upgrade?

  • thebard3

    …but what kind of electric and fresh water plants would be required if all the ladies have an espresso while drying their hair and washing their cootchies all at the same time?

    • Duane

      The Italians are quite famous for their style … and for losing wars.

      If you want to win best dressed awards at the next art gallery charity gala, buy the FREMM

      But if you want to win a naval war, buy one of the American designs by the LCS buulders.

      • Dean687

        First you insult every here of Italian heritage, what’s next? You’re going to call every Italian “old,” “stupid,” “lame?” Stop with the hate already. Secondly, you assume that the LCS is a warship (I’m going to laugh about that one all week).

        • Duane

          I stated facts. This isn’t a cultural sensitivity awareness acquisition. We ‘re buying warships that are proven performers using the specified required equipment and systems.

  • Duane

    This cruise ship documentary post will certainly send the LCS haters into orgasmic paroxims of toyland joy …. but alas, the FREMM is suitable only for nations that cannot afford AEGIS destroyers so settle only for half-assed destroyers … too big and expensive to be affordable as US Navy small surface combatants, and too incapable to serve as an AEGIS destroyer.

    To win the FFG(X) design competition would require the Navy to shitcan their entire RFP, ignoring virtually all of their own stated requirements and preferences.

    • NavySubNuke

      **sniff** **sniff** Yup, just as I thought – smells like fear.
      You can keep telling lies all you like Duane but at the end of the day a FREMM for Italy and France is actually cheaper than we are paying for LCS right now $800M vs. over $900M fully equipped and ready for deployment ($640M per ship, $169M per ship for post delivery modifications and outfiting, $134M per mission module (average cost for all 48 modules including the 4 that will never deploy))
      While there is no way we could get an FREMM for $800M it isn’t outside the realm of possibility to believe we could get one for $900M – $1000M (or $1B if you prefer).
      For only a modest increase in cost we could have a warship that is actually capable of actually getting underway and staying underway without a major engineering casualty and going into combat and not only surviving but emerging victorious.
      Seems like a small price to pay. You may not want to see us build up a navy capable of deterring our enemies and, should deterrence fail, be capable of fighting and winning the nations wars but not all of us feel the same way. Some of us here actually like America, are proud to be Americans, and don’t want to see American sailors sent to sea on virtually unarmed death traps.
      Nice try though – gold star for propaganda value,

      • Lazarus

        FREMM is too big for a USN small surface combatant. It’s a DDG with one less VLS battery.

        • Duane

          You and I, but far more importantly, the US Navy know that. That is why they specified a maximum cost, and a lower yet preferred cost of lesss than $800M.

          The US Navy wisely decided to inject some budgetary reality into the design competition that will once and for all puncture the fantasies of LCS haters dreaming dreams of fancy Italian cruise ships that represent poor compromises of size, capability, and cost.

          Of course the LCS haters won’t shut up, ever. 20 years from now they’ll continue to infest the comment threads bitching about FFG(X) and how the Navy stupidly sold them out, until they finally die off.

          • Lazarus

            Yes. World War 2 vets used to complain about FF1052 and FFG7 in the same way.

          • Dan O’Brian

            Compared to our current “frigate” (the pathetic do nothing LCS) the FF1052 and FFG7 classes were battleships.

            1052 class:
            -5 in gun
            -ASROC (with a massive magazine)
            -Harpoon (with a massive magazine)
            -Phalanx or Sea Sparrow
            -Torpedoes
            -ASW Helo
            -Very powerful sonar
            -tail
            -very powerful surface search and air search radars
            -SLQ-32
            -praire masker
            -good size crew
            -reliable
            -long range
            -good top speed of 32 knots

            LCS (aka battle frigate):
            -57mm gun
            -commercial grade electronics suite (proven to be unreliable)
            -very small crew
            -very unrealiable
            -gas guzzler/short range
            -very expensive for an empty hull
            -proven that they can’t do anything
            -very noisy

            now go sip on your latte, sit in your safe place for awhile, and prepare to offer up some logical counterpoints, if possible

          • As long as you put 8x AShM’s on it that make it a “real warship” in the eyes of the LCS haters and blind them to any shortcomings.

          • WhiskyTangoFoxtrot

            You’re beginning to sound like Hillary: “there’s a vast right wing anti my precious LCS conspiracy out there, sheesh, sheesh…”

        • NavySubNuke

          LOL – really Laz — size is the reason you reject it?
          Laz: “Sure it is cheaper and more capable a LCS – never mind a stretch out LCS – and unlike an LCS it can actually deploy —- but it is simply too big to be an small surface combatant and must be rejected!”

          • Lazarus

            The requirement is for a “small surface combatant;” not a DDG-lite.

          • NavySubNuke

            You should actually read the FFG(x) RFI and other information put out by the Navy.
            At no point due they require the vessel to be of a specific size.
            What they do require is that it deliver a certain level of capability – far and away in excess of what the LCS is able to provide – at a reasonable cost.

          • Lazarus

            The ship is classed as a small surface combatant and not a DDG.

          • NavySubNuke

            Certainly – but by that measure anything smaller than 8000T is a small surface combatant.
            Nice try though. Gold star for making it through an entire post without lying — that is a rare accomplishment for you when LCS is the subject matter.

          • Lazarus

            Again, I have an official record on LCS through multiple articles and papers that have been accepted and fact checked by multiple defense news outlets, including this one. I stand on the veracity of my work and your accusations are unfounded.

          • NavySubNuke

            No worries – I would expect you to admit you are lying although it is fairly obvious when you do and I am happy to point it out.

          • Lazarus

            No, 8000 tons is within DDG size. You cannot have an all big ship navy.

          • NavySubNuke

            Exactly – that is why I said “anything smaller than 8000T is a small surface combatant” —- 6000T is in fact smaller than 8000T.

          • publius_maximus_III

            How about bringing back the old Destroyer Escort designation plus guided missiles (BTW, are they ever un-guided these days?)

            Gentlemen and Ladies, I give you the DEG.

          • Lazarus

            There’s that “deployment” canard again…don’t you get that the changes to the LCS CONOPS have (again-sigh) delayed the regular deployment rotation of the class? Do some more informed reading before making ill-informed statements!

          • NavySubNuke

            Just because you don’t like a fact doesn’t make it untrue.
            At the end of the day not a single LCS is expected to deploy in 2018.
            Pointing that out is the truth and is in no way ill informed. Nice try though!

          • Lazarus

            You can’t hand an entire argument on one point.

          • NavySubNuke

            There is no argument – there will not be a single LCS deployment in 2018.
            That is a fact. There is nothing to argue about.

          • Lazarus

            It is one data point and that’s all.

          • PolicyWonk

            It might be one data point, but it is a BIG point.

            No deployment = No value

            Here’s another point, put in a simple mathematical format:

            LCS = Littoral Combat Ship. Former CNO Greenert, after declaring the littoral combat ship was “never intended to venture into the Littorals (L) to engage in combat (C)”.

            We are then left with:
            LCS
            – L (littoral)
            – C (combat)
            ====
            S (ship)

            Since these ships suffer rather severe propulsion system failures, and cannot reliably fulfill the standard (and undeniably normal) expectation that a ship should be able to (minimally) propel itself (reliably) from one port to another, that removes the “S” part of the equation.

            Therefore:
            S – S = 0

            The US taxpayer therefore gets exactly ZERO benefit from these so-called “littoral combat ships”, proven via simple mathematical operations. However, if we add in the extraordinary cost of proprietary maintenance, pier side space utilization, and additional dry docks required for basic maintenance of the Independence class, then we’re far below ZERO benefit, and are well into liabilities.

          • Lazarus

            You just keep repeating the same point; but as always without any supporting data. I’m sure the junior Senator from California appreciates all of your efforts on her staff.

          • NavySubNuke

            Certainly – but it is a pretty important one considering how many ships of the class are in commission and how long a number of them have been commissioned as compared to other vessels.

        • Todd

          Now that’s funny, I guess you’re easily intimidated by other’s with ‘larger’ ones eh?

      • NR

        It is entirely unrealistic to think that we could build a version of the FREMM in the US for anything less than $1B. The base cost for France was $782 million USD in 2014, adjusting for inflation puts the base cost at $837 million. That doesn’t include the design and construction costs for swapping out the Sylver launchers, Radar, and combat systems.
        It is my understanding that the FREMM is built largely to commercial standards to reduce cost. Previous statements by the Navy indicated that the design wasn’t even built to the survivability standards of the LCS!!! You propose building a 6000 ton, billion dollar plus, destroyer lite when the USN clearly is looking for a cheaper escort to build in quantity.

        • H__K

          Both FREMM variants are built to high end damage control and survivability standards. Why anyone would believe that they are less survivable than LCS mystifies me.

          You can’t use those French costs as is. They include 20% VAT. You need to subtract that. They also don’t get the benefit of huge economies of scale on GFE like the USN does… European combat and weapon systems tend to be expensive, even if the base platforms are cheaper.

          • NR

            That isn’t my opinion, that’s straight from the US Navy. The cost increases associated with the LCS program were due in large part to changing survivability requirements. Fincantieri started with a commercial spec hull for the LCS and had to add survivability enhancements. The FREMM isn’t built like a high end destroyer.

          • Al L.

            “They include 20% VAT.”
            Last I checked anything built in the US will include US burdens too. Can we deduct the cost of the Congressional lobbying, multistate contracting schemes, higher labor costs, etc? Can we add on Gov’t subsidized benefits, producer subsidies, cross border labor costs, etc?

          • Lazarus

            Any modern surface combatant under 10k tons and 600 feet in length is vulnerable to a mission kill from even one large ASCM. Modern solid state electronics mean that recoverability is no longer so simple as stringing casualty power cables to re-power a gun mount. All of that network-based combat systems material is deport-level repairable at best if damaged. “Survivability” is based on either hard/soft kill capabilities against large weapons like ASCM’s and/or torpedoes, or in dispersal. Given its interest in distributed lethality, especially for LCS, the Navy seems more interested in survivability by dispersal than by trying to overpower a raid.
            20 FFGX is not going to be a huge economy of scale for GFE. LCS costs stabilized due to improved construction techniques at Austal and Marinette and not due to savings in GFE. There are more LCS currently in service or authorized than the planned 20 FFGX buy and if economy of scale costs did not work for 29 ships, why would they work for just 20?

        • NavySubNuke

          The base cost of the Italian version – which from what I have read is what the actual FREMM proposal is more closely based on – is ~$700M in 2016.
          There is also a version for Morocco – same hull but fewer bells and whistles that went for ~$470M in 2014 – inflation adjusted today to just over $500M.
          Given those costs it is certainly possible – and downright plausible – that the US will be able to get a US FREMM version for $1B or less.
          That is actually far more likely than the US getting an stretched LCS for that price when you consider each LCS now, when fully equipped, is in excess of $900M already ($640M for the ship, $169M for outfitting and post-delivery modifications, $134M for the mission modules).

          • NR

            No. The FREMM for Morocco was 470 million Euro with a contract signed in 2008. 470 million Euro is USD$ 548 million. Inflation puts the cost at 650 for a far less capable ship than you suggest.

          • Al L.

            “The base cost of the Italian version – which from what I have read is what the actual FREMM proposal is more closely based on – is ~$700M in 2016.”

            Again, no backup for that figure: what does it include, exclude, who compiled it etc.

            Italian costs are much lower than US costs. US GDP per capita is 88% higher than Italy. On that basis alone we can expect a huge increase in comparable costs. Lots of higher end labor in warships.

          • NavySubNuke

            Again, the numbers are out there and can be found if you actually bother looking for them. Sorry but I can’t post links here so you will have to do your own actual work on this one.

          • Al L.

            I have seen many references, none repeat NONE have the authority of a CRS, GAO, CBO or other such organization. The only one I’ve found that is authoritive is from the French budget court in French and translating it and adjusting it for currency and inflation puts the FREMM at over a billion dollars built in France.

            If you have a solid refernce you dont need a hot link just list a bibliographical source or a simple reference like was done for 300 years before hot links.

          • NavySubNuke

            Of course none have the authority of CRS, GAO, or CBO – that isn’t how the Europeans do defense contracts.
            But there are public news articles that cite the value of the contracts and the total cost of each ship.
            At the end of the day the only way we will find out the real costs of a US FREMM are if the Navy awards the contract and announces the value. We’ll almost certainly never know the true cost for the 4 losers unfortunately.

        • publius_maximus_III

          Would not do for all those banks of commercial-grade monitors to go blank after one of those “near miss” tests the USN likes to run on new designs.

      • Al L.

        1. There is no support for the claim that the true current cost of a FREMM is $800 million. You cannot find a source that backs that figure up comparably to a us ship cost number. I have tried for months.

        If you have a verifiable source for that number please tell us where it is.

        2. This FREMM is not going to be built in Europe to European specs with European equipment, so what it costs for Italy and France is irrelavant. The cost of US Navy requirements and US government administrative burden can add 60% to the cost of building a civilian ship for the US Navy. This is what happened when the Navy bought a simplified Alaska tanker from NASSCO in the form of the ESD. It is likely to add a substantial multiple of more than 20% to a FREMM.

        3. For the 6000 ton FREMM to cost $900M – $1000M as you suggest would require it to be cheaper by the ton in current dollars than ANY US warship built in the last 40+ years. Thats as cheap or cheaper than the cost of Perry in current dollars which had a 3rd less tonnage, and was built under favorable circumstances in high numbers, which this ship wont have.

        If the FREMM can be built for such a number it would be great, and a substantial gain for the future of the fleet. Nothing in the record suggests its possible.

        • NavySubNuke

          Just because you haven’t been able to find the information doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. There are several sources out there that contain it. But you can’t post links is USNI so sorry but I can’t help you.
          I hope to one day find out exactly what a FREMM built in a US shipyard with US systems costs since it would mean we have corrected the mistake and aren’t wasting more money on either an LCS or a stretched out LCS.
          The NSC’s are about 4500 tons and cost <$700Million —- that equates to $933M on a per ton basis so I'm not sure why you think a FREMM is so impossible especially if we do multi-year procurement. We basically get the 10th VA-SSN of every block "free" thanks to the MYP savings. There is no reason to believe we can't expect substantial savings of that type with a mature hull form design. The integration of sensors and other systems is challenging but not impossible when you have a proven foundation to work from.

          • Al L.

            “But you can’t post links is USNI so sorry but I can’t help you. ”

            I have seen many references, none repeat NONE have the authority of a CRS, GAO, CBO or other such organization. The only one I’ve found that is authoritive is from the French budget court in French and translating it and adjusting it for currency and inflation puts the FREMM at over a billion dollars built in France.

            If you have a solid refernce you dont need a hot link just list a bibliographical source or a simple reference like was done for 300 years before hot links. I’m waiting.

            “The NSC’s are about 4500 tons and cost <$700Million —- that equates to $933M on a per ton basis so I'm not sure why you think a FREMM is so impossible "

            Thats just silly.

            1. The NSC is an nearly unarmed cutter not a USN warship.
            2. That 933M requires the addition of all the GFE and requirements the Navy wants to make it a warship which means it would be well over a billion, so you are just again pointing out that a 6000 ton ship has little chance of meeting the budget.

            'if we do multi-year procurement"

            There is no guarantee of an MYP, and doing one for a ship never built for the DOD until producibility is proven would be idiotic. The producibility of the VA-SSN is proven.

          • NavySubNuke

            Depends on how the risk in the contract is structured and who eats the cost of overages.
            We aren’t starting from scratch with a totally new ship design so going right into a multi-hull buy for a FREMM or Naval version of the NSC isn’t as crazy as it is for a ship that hasn’t ever been built before.
            But you are correct that we almost certainly won’t do a MYP for hull 1 and likely won’t for hull 2 either. The real savings will come in the block buys for 3-10 and 11-20.
            We will see for sure here in a little bit though.

    • Lazarus

      Yes, not sure why USNI featured all of those European habitability elements that would probably not be part of a US design.

      Also, that is a lot of equipment maintenance for a crew of less than 200. LCS gets bashed for off board maintenance but would FREMM be any different? How does the continental European shipboard maintenance philosophy differ from that of the USN? Way too many unanswered questions on the FREMM that LCS critics here easily overlook.

    • Retired

      There you go again adm Gollum, letting your fear of real warships and real capabilities as seen in this FREMM design, compared to the do-nothing-bathtub-companion “my precious” LCS, rise to the surface again. When are you going to stop being a lockmart troll and start thinking about the welfare of our sailors and our Navy? Sheesh!

      • Duane

        Real warships? With cruise ship amenities and zero experience integrating most of the Navy’s required GFE?

        ROFLMAO!!!

  • Hugh

    This is one of 3 contender designs for 9 future RAN frigates, to be fitted with AEGIS, and other US machinery and kit, to be built in Australia.

  • Gerardo Señoráns Barcala

    FREMM is if you don´t want to leave your naval base. They never work. The French or worst the Italian….. The USN needs a combat proven design.

    The best for the US Navy would be the Navantia F-100 with Aegis, See the Hobart class or the F-310.
    The best actual combat system.

    • H__K

      That’s a bit rich given that:

      a) the Spanish fleet has been dock-bound for the last decade (due to budgetary restrictions), and

      b) F-100 hasn’t been proven in combat anymore than any of the other candidates

      • Gerardo Señoráns Barcala

        The F-100 is the only frigate who did world tours, served and tested by the Australian and US Navy. etc

        The F-100 is actually the best on the market and is doing a great work.

        The quality of the F-100 frigate has nothing to do with the smallest defense budged in percentage in the NATO.

        The F-100 has a great potential….. also the smaller and future light F-110.
        The best American combat system in the world, this should be the minimum for the US Navy.Great quality and service, low cost and maintenance….

    • Do have any evidence to support your statements about FREMM?

  • Gerardo Señoráns Barcala

    One benefit of the F-100 -class is immediately apparent: off-the-shelf
    interoperability. Not only does the class have American weapons and
    engines, it even shares a combat system (Aegis) with the rest of the
    American surface combatant fleet. Nevertheless, there are some issues,
    especially the below-threshold top speed — fixing this issue would
    likely require an upgraded LM2500, if not costly alterations to the
    hull and/or drivetrain.

  • disqus_89uuCprLIv

    This is one ugly ship!

    Looks top-heavy (I expect it is not.)

    Is it stealthy or not?

    Accomodations are wonderful but it could carry more systems instead of cruise cabins.

    The USN won’t require the wine tank storage either.

    I don’t think NAVSEA is going to swoon over this vessel. Great voyage and port call for the crew though.

  • jack anderson

    having served on USS Leonard F Mason and USS Dixie she looks suspiciously like a yacht to me.

  • Steven M Piper

    What gaps are currently present in the fleet? What missions are there struggles with? I think that any discussion needs to start with how we fill the holes.

    • Secundius

      “Trained Aviators”! The US Navy has a Manpower Shortfall of ~2,000 Trained Aviators through 2020, due to Airline Industry paying more money…