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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Alpino is designed with one galley facility to serve the different dining areas for enlisted sailors, chiefs, and officers.
Alpino’s Enlisted living room, adjacent to enlisted galley.
Alpino Chief’s mess.
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.
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.
Alpino heads include toilet, bidet, and heated towel drying rack.
Alpino heads have a built-in hairdryer.