Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM) hosted a “Cut Steel” event marking the start of production for Saudi Arabia’s first Multi-Mission Surface Combatant (MMSC) ship at its facility in Marinette, Wisconsin on Oct. 24.
The MMSC is a tailored variant of the Freedom-class littoral combat ship (LCS) being procured for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) through the U.S. Navy under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.
Representatives from the U.S. Navy and RSNF attended the event. Also present were representatives from the offices of Wisconsin lawmakers U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, as well as Wisconsin State Sen. Dave Hansen and Marinette Mayor Steve Genisot.
The program manager for the U.S. Navy’s International Small Combatants Program Office (PMS 525), Todd Tompkins, observed that “in this shipyard that has produced so many U.S. Navy Freedom-variant littoral combat ships, the MMSC is the first ship based on an LCS variant to be built for a foreign partner.” He added that “this event marks the culmination of years of collaboration between our countries.”
Cut Steel symbolically recognizes the initiation of construction efforts for the more than 4,000-metric-ton MMSC. Prime contractor Lockheed Martin and its shipyard partner, FMM, have been working on the MMSC design with the U.S. Navy since 2017. Four MMSC ships will be constructed at FMM, with significant economic benefits expected for the region.
The FMS sale of the MMSC ships to Saudi Arabia was approved by the U.S. State Department in October 2015. The sale also included associated equipment, parts and logistical support with a total value estimated at $11.25 billion.
In July last year, an undefinitized contract action (UCA) totaling $450 million was awarded to Lockheed Martin by the U.S. government to begin the detailed design and planning for the construction of four MMSC vessels. The company was also awarded a $24.7 million contract modification for long-lead-time material and detail design to support the construction of the vessels in November the same year.
The $282 million not-to-exceed undefinitized contract action modification was awarded by the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA).
Multi-Mission Surface Combatant (MMSC)
The Multi-Mission Surface Combatant (MMSC) is a highly maneuverable and armed multi-mission surface combatant vessel capable of littoral and open ocean operation.
The MMSC takes the proven capabilities of the U.S. Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and the inherent flexibility of the Freedom-variant hull to meet the unique maritime requirements of international navies.
The vessels will have a range of 5,000 nautical miles and can reach speeds in excess of 30 knots. It will be based on the Freedom-variant LCS’s 118-meter hull and it will utilize the same combined diesel and gas (CODAG) propulsion system.
The MMSC utilizes the COMBATSS-21 Combat Management System, built from the Aegis Combat System Software library. The MMSC integrated combat system solution leverages the domestic LCS integration of the 57mm Mk110 deck gun and SeaRAM missile system, and expands multi-mission capability through integration of Over-The-Horizon surface-to-surface missiles, port, and starboard 20 mm remote guns, a new fire control radar and a forward centerline 8 cell MK 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) equipped with RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM). The MMSC is also equipped with the AN/SLQ-25 Torpedo Defense system.
Paired with one of the world’s most advanced maritime helicopter, the Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk, the MMSC will have robust anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability that is fully interoperable with the U.S. Navy and its coalition partners.