The Navy on Thursday issued Fincantieri Marinette Marine a $554 million contract to start building the next frigate in the Constellation class, the service announced.
The award is for the future USS Congress (FFG-63), which is the second hull in the Constellation class.
“The Navy Program Office is pleased to award the option for the USS Congress (FFG 63) to our industry partner Fincantieri Marinette Marine,” Capt. Kevin Smith, the program manager for the Constellation class, said in a news release. “As the second ship of the Constellation Class Frigate Program, the USS Congress will provide a highly capable, next-generation surface combatant that our Navy and Nation needs.”
The design for the Constellation-class ships is based on the Italian and French navies’ FREMM multi-mission frigate.
The frigates will be equipped with systems including the Aegis Baseline 10 combat system, the Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS), and Raytheon’s Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR), which is a variant of its SPY-6 radar, the Navy has said.
“The Constellation Class Frigate will be an important part of the Navy’s future Fleet. It represents the evolution of the Navy’s small surface combatant force with increased lethality, survivability, and improved capability to support the National Defense Strategy across the full range of military operations,” the service said in the news release. “It will help conduct distributed maritime operations more effectively and improve the Navy’s ability to fight both in contested blue-water and littoral environments.”
Last April, Marinette Marine won the initial contract to build the first frigate, the future USS Constellation (FFG-62). The shipyard, which is based in Marinette, Wis., and owned by Italian parent company Fincantieri, won the contract over multiple competitors, including Huntington Ingalls Industries, Austal USA, and a team of General Dynamics Bath Iron Works and Navantia.
Marinette Marine is slated to begin building Constellation – the lead ship in the class – later this year, USNI News previously reported.
Rick Hunt, the president of Fincantieri Marinette Marine, has said the shipbuilder included space and power margin on the frigates so they can evolve throughout their service lives as new equipment comes online.
Smith, the Navy program manager, earlier this year noted that future weapons systems could include direct energy.
“We have ample margin for this hull form. We also have in our requirements [the] space, weight, power and cooling margin to accommodate upgrades down the road over the service life of the ship,” Smith said earlier this year.
“Some of those could lead to direct energy type projects and other capabilities.”