Navy Awards $1B Contract for 5th, 6th Constellation-class Frigates

May 23, 2024 6:58 PM
Rendering of USS Constellation (FFG-62). Fincantieri Image

The Navy on Thursday announced a $1 billion contract award to Fincantieri Marinette Marine for the next two Constellation-class frigates.
The award is for FFG-66 and FFG-67, the fifth and sixth frigates in the program, according to a Pentagon contract announcement. Fincantieri is slated to finish the work in April 2030.

The award comes the same day Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro announced at Fleet Week in New York that FFG-66 will be named USS Hamilton. The ship’s namesake is Alexander Hamilton, who was President George Washington’s Treasury Secretary.

The contract award also comes as the frigate program faces delays due to ongoing workforce challenges at the yard in Marinette, Wisconsin and a still incomplete design.

In a shipbuilding review earlier this year, Navy officials said the lead ship in the class could be up to three years late, pushing the potential delivery out from 2026 to 2029, USNI News previously reported.

The design for the Constellation-class frigates is based off the FREMM parent design that is in service with the Italian and French navies, but Naval Sea Systems Command has altered the drawings to meet U.S. Navy standards. While the design at one point shared 85 percent commonality with the FREMM, it’s not closer to 15 percent, USNI News understands.

Meanwhile, Del Toro last week told lawmakers that Fincantieri underbid the frigate contract, which the Navy first issued in 2020.

“Maybe if the Constellation, if that had not been underbid during the previous administration and hadn’t been delayed from the very beginning and they came in with a best value price for it, and the Navy had not accepted it back then, we’d be in a better place with regards to the frigate as well,” Del Toro told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week.

Asked about Del Toro’s remarks, a spokesperson for Fincantieri pointed USNI News to remarks made by James Geurts, who was the Navy’s acquisition executive when the service issued the detail design award for the lead ship.

“For the record, Fincantieri Marinette Marine was awarded the Constellation-Class Frigate contract in 2020, based on a ‘best value’ determination by the government, according to the Navy’s top acquisition official at the time,” Eric Dent told USNI News.
“Since award, the program has been challenged by post award realities that we are working with our Navy customer and our industry teammates to overcome and deliver a world class frigate to the U.S. Navy.”

When the Navy awarded the contract for the lead ship to Fincantieri, Geurts described the decision as the one giving the taxpayer the “best value” for their dollar.

“Throughout this process, the government team and our industry partners have all executed with a sense of urgency and discipline, delivering this contract award three months ahead of schedule,” Geurts said in 2020. “The team’s intense focus on cost, acquisition, and technical rigor, enabled the government to deliver the best value for our taxpayers as we deliver a highly capable next generation frigate to our warfighters.”

Several months after the initial 2020 award, a Congressional Budget Office report found that the Navy underestimated the cost of the lead ship by 40 percent and that it could cost $1.6 billion.

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne is a reporter for USNI News. She previously covered the Navy for Inside Defense and reported on politics for The Hill.
Follow @MalShelbourne

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