U.S. Navy to Name New FFG(X) Constellation-Class Frigate USS Congress

The U.S. Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite announced that the U.S. Navy’s second FFG(X) Constellation-class frigate will be named the USS Congress (FFG 63).

Braithwaite made the announcement during a hearing on Navy and Marine Corps Readiness with the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support on Capitol Hill on Dec. 2.

“To honor and recognize the work [Congress] and your staff do every day to support our Sailors and Marines, I take pleasure in announcing that a future frigate will carry the name Congress,” said Braithwaite. “The Department of the Navy looks to you for the strong oversight and partnership that has enabled our maritime strength ever since Congress authorized the construction of our first six ships — the mighty American frigates of 1794.”

The ship naming honors the rich history and legacy of the Navy. Congress was among the six original frigates authorized by Congress in the Naval Act of 1794, which established the U.S. Navy as an agile, lethal and ready force and cemented the enduring partnership between the sea service and our nation’s elected legislative officials.

Two naval vessels carried the name Congress during the American Revolution. The first was a row galley that served the Continental Navy during the war, and the second was a 28-gun frigate that was set afire while being outfitted to prevent her capture by the British.

The third USS Congress was a 38-gun wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate launched in 1799. Her first duties with the newly formed United States Navy were to provide protection for American merchant shipping during the Quasi War with France and to defeat the Barbary pirates in the First Barbary War.

The fourth naval vessel to carry the name Congress was a 52-gun frigate launched in 1841. She served in the Mediterranean, South Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. She continued to operate as an American warship until the Civil War when she was sunk by the first ironclad CSS Virginia in battle of Newport News, Virginia.

In 1868, the fifth USS Congress, a screw sloop was launched. The screw sloop moved the Navy toward the modern age, supporting POLARIS arctic mission and visiting the Philly centennial exposition in 1876.

The sixth USS Congress (ID-3698), was built as a private fishing vessel before she was commissioned as a patrol vessel during WWI. She was in commission from 1918 to 1919 carrying out miscellaneous patrol duties until she was stricken from the Navy List and sold.

SECNAV, announced in October, that the first FFG(X) guided-missile frigate will be called USS Constellation (FFG 62) with the frigates to be called Constellation-class after the lead ship.

The names are being selected in honor the first six U.S. Navy ships authorized by Congress in 1794. The six heavy frigates were named United States, Constellation, Constitution, Chesapeake, Congress, and President.

Constellation Class Frigates will be built at Fincantieri-owned Marinette Marine Corporation (MMC) in Marinette, Wisconsin with the first ship scheduled for delivery in 2026. These next generation small surface combatants will contribute to meeting the Navy’s goal of 355 battle force ships.

FFG (X)/ Constellation Class Frigates:

The FFG(X) frigates will have a multi-mission capability to conduct anti-air warfare (AAW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASW), electronic warfare (EW) and information operations. The frigates will be capable of operating in blue water and littoral environments.

Specifically, FFG(X) will include a Raytheon AN/SPY-6(V)3 Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR), Baseline Ten (BL 10) AEGIS Combat System, a Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS), communications systems, MK 57 Gun Weapon System (GWS) countermeasures and added capability in the EW/IO area with design flexibility for future growth.

FFG(X) Contract Award:

Earlier this year, Fincantieri Marinette Marine Corporation (MMC) was awarded a $795 million contract for detail design and construction (DD&C) of the FFG(X) class of guided-missile frigates.

The contract with options will provide for the delivery of up to 10 FFG(X) ships (consisting of one base ship and nine option ships), post-delivery availability support, engineering and class services, crew familiarization, training equipment and provisioned item orders. If all options are exercised, the cumulative value of this contract will be around $5.58 billion.

Italian shipbuilder, Fincantieri offered its 6,700-ton FREMM (Fregata europea multimissione) frigate design for the FFG(X) program. The Italian FREMM design features a 16-cell VLS as well as space for deck-launched anti-ship missiles (AShMs).

The frigates will be built at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM) shipyard in Marinette, Wisc. under a teaming arrangement between Fincantieri and Lockheed Martin. The teaming will likely similar the arrangement in case of the construction of the Freedom-class (LCS 1) littoral combat ships.

The FREMM frigates are primarily operated by the Italian and French Navies. In France, the class is known as the Aquitaine class, while in Italy they are known as the Bergamini class. Italy has ordered six general-purpose variants and four anti-submarine variants. France has ordered six anti-submarine variants and two air-defense variants. The frigates are also operated by Egypt and Morocco.

FFG(X) Project Timeline:

The Navy released the FFG(X) DD&C Request for Proposals to industry on June 20, 2019. Technical proposals were received in August 2019 and cost proposals were received in September 2019. This was a full and open competition with multiple offers received.

Six shipbuilders submitted proposals for conceptual designs with five of them awarded conceptual design contracts, worth $15 million each, to mature their proposed ship design to meet the FFG(X) system specification.

The five contenders who were awarded conceptual design contracts are Austal USA, Huntington Ingalls (HII), Lockheed Martin, Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM) and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW). Atlas North America submitted the MEKO A-200 design but was not selected for a conceptual design contract.

The four FFG (X) contenders were:

• Austal USA offering a frigate design based on U.S. Navy Independence-class littoral combat ship (LCS).
• Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM) offering a design based on FREMM multipurpose frigate operate by the Italian and French Navies.
• General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW)/Navantia offering a design based on Spanish Navy Álvaro de Bazán-class F100 frigate.
• Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) offering a patrol frigate design based on U.S. Coast Guard’s Legend-class National Security Cutter (NSC).

The Navy is expected to award the contract for the second frigate in 2021. The next 18 frigates of the 20-ship class are expected to be ordered at a rate of two per year from 2022.

The U.S. Congress funded the procurement of the first FFG(X) in FY2020 at a cost of $1,281.2 million. The Navy’s proposed FY2021 budget requests $1,053.1 million for the procurement of the second FFG(X).

The Navy estimates that subsequent ships in the class will cost roughly $940 million each in then-year dollars. This is about half the cost of a Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer (DDG).

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.