The Navy has announced that the contract for the first of the new FFG(X) class frigates has been awarded to Marinette Marine.
“Navy awarded a contract to design and produce the next generation small surface combatant, the Guided Missile Frigate (FFG(X)) today. The contract for detail design and construction (DD&C) of up to 10 Guided Missile Frigates (consisting of one base ship and nine option ships) was awarded to Marinette Marine Corporation (MMC) of Marinette, Wisconsin, officials announced. “
One of the arguments for continuing the construction of the National Security Cutters (NSC) has been that it kept a production line open that might roll into production of the FFG(X). That is now no longer the case. The argument that we are replacing 12 ships, so we should build 12 is still valid to a degree.
Currently eleven NSCs are seen as replacing 12 WHECs, but we have yet to hear that 25 OPCs are not enough to replace 32 WMECs: 13 WMEC 270s, 16 WMEC210s, Alex Haley, Acushnet, and Storis. Maybe what we need is 33 OPCs, to make up for the shortfall in replacing both 12 WHECs and 32 WMECs, 44 ships to replace 44.
Thanks to Secundius for bringing this to my attention.
44 for 44 suffers from too much sense for Congress.
It is an argument that those that want to build ships can use. We have a now old study that documents the need for more ships. Hopefully we will get an updated study.
Knowing how the brains at NAVSEA & OPNAV work, here are my observations from an acquisition POV :
1- it is a safe award to a US shipbuider with the technical and financial capability to perform. This are procurement terms.
2- The politicos will argue but they all would have to overcome a competitive award. Not easy to overcome.
3- This is an interim award. Since the Navy says they will recompete, another yard could get the next batch and the Navy will be stuck with different classes. They will waste time and money doing that.
4- Giving the award to a second tier contractor will hopefully get the 10 ships of this class into service sooner than waiting for space to open up at other yards.?
5- The Navy must deliver on its claim that follow on hulls 2-10 will be less expensive. There cannot be another LCS plus up.
6- Or as Chuck suggests more NSC might be ordered. I would like to see a dual-service ship IF HII’s design was satisfactory. That would make more politicos happy and pay for a bunch of lobbyists.
IF the Navy could get enough SCN bucks??, then they should make a second award to a different yard, or a second batch of this design to another yard. Which is wishful thinking ~
The Navy should start workin6immedately on a smaller combatant to fit in below the FFG. A larger PC or FAC(M). And the Navy must have a Forward Logistics Ship IMHO.
There may be more later
Sent from TypeApp
Information on pricing here. https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/33249/navy-picks-italian-shipbuilder-to-build-its-new-ffg-x-guided-missile-frigate
As far as building more NSCs, it could go either way.
I’d like to see NSC built until construction of the OPC is well underway.
The production line is hot, costs well understood, and with HII not winning the FFGX competition, they have the capacity.
We still have three NSCs to complete and the first of those is not expected until 2021, We will probably have #10 and #!! delivered in 2022 and 2023. So there should be some over lap with one NSC and one OPC delivered in those two years.
The shipyard cost for the FFG(X) are remarkably close to that of the NSC although the FFG(X)’s government furnished equipment adds a great deal more. Have to wonder if maybe some FFG(X) based cutters fitted for but not with, might not be a good idea. In case of a major conflict, weapons could be added to bring them in to line with the full up Navy version.
Would love to see what HII’s offering actually looked like. Was it NSC based? Could it be a guide to wartime upgrades for the NSCs?
I too would be curious to see HHI’s submission.
As you said, there may be things there applicable to the NSC.
Building out NSC’s to a slight uparmed, light frigate configuration would certainly strengthen the National fleet.
As far as a CG Fremm variant. It’s a good idea but I think MMC is going to be doing all they can to deliver those first ten ships. It will be a while before they could possibly entertain building additional ships for the CG.
Marinette spent money recently enlarging their facility so that it could build two FFGs per year.
There is some talk of a second yard also building FFGs as a way to get more on line more quickly. That might make a Coast Guard variant more likely.
With the award to Fincantieri’s Marinette yard, it’s a sure bet that the OPC recompete is now going to be more important than ever to BIW and Bollinger. Can’t see HII interested in the OPC contract, but you never know.
What is the latest on the OPC program? What is the current timeline?
Eastern has the contract for the first four. Two are already funded, options for #3 and 4. First should be delivered 2022 and one a year.
Re-compete sets the start of two/year deliveries back considerably. We don’t expect to see #25 until 2036 if I remember correctly. At that time even the youngest 270 will be 46 years old.
Explored the time line and alternatives in more depth here: https://chuckhillscgblog.net/2019/12/08/offshore-patrol-cutter-program-alternatives/
I don’t think that the marinette/FREMM FFG X was the best option out there, but I think it’s a great design that will serve the navy well, and I am thankful that they did not choose the LCS design. I would’ve rather seen the F100 or NSC based FFG X concept win, though I’m not sure if the NSC would be able to hold all the required VLS cells. As you are, I am a strong advocate for uparming the NSCs, as well as procuring more of them. If we’re going to keep using them as an extension of the naval patrol forces, I think that all NSCs should be given an 8-cell VLS with ESSMs, and 4 NSMs (2 facing each way, could be mounted forward of the bridge).
We may never see what HII proposed though rumor is it was based on the NSC.
I too am a fan of the NSC and the idea of an up-armed version of it. But…it hard to see how the NSC, given it’s size, could have met the Navy’s requirements for FFGX in the area of VLS tubes, installed power and growth margin.
Perhaps there is an opportunity to do something in common with the Navy with the OPC. It seems to be an inherently cheaper ship. Multiple yards will placing bids to build it and it’s power plant is arguably more modern than the NSC.
There is a very good chance, given budget realities and the desire for more ships, the Navy will be pushed to look hard at ships cheaper and smaller than FFGX. Maybe OPC has a place there.
A lengthened OPC with double the engines and more powerful electric motors could be of interest to the Navy,. Might even be faster than the FEMM.
A bit more information here. https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2020/05/05/5-things-you-should-know-about-the-us-navys-new-frigate/
Diagram of the FFG(X). Interesting to note that they have fixed pitched propellers. This is probably due to the hybrid propulsion system. http://www.dmitryshulgin.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/FFG-scaled.jpg
Comments here from HII, but still no info on their proposal. https://news.usni.org/2020/05/07/huntington-ingalls-industries-execs-disappointed-over-ffgx-loss
Chuck, I like your idea of the cutter version of the FFGX. Yes it appears that the hull cost of the selected FFGX is close to the hull cost of the NSC. Maybe (?) the Coast Guard and the Navy could team up and fund a number of cutter FFGX’s. These cutter FFGX would be a little less capable than the navy version. I; E: 16 Mk 41 VLS vs 32, replace the 3 panel SPY-6 EASR radar with 3 panel TRS-4D radar, SeaRam vs RAM. 4/6 or 8 NSM vs 16 (and maybe only onboard during overseas deployments) and maybe there are other cost saving that could be found for the cutter version. This would be a win-win for the CG the Navy and our nation. At a time that we are again in era of near peer competition and both services are in need of more hull in the water and operational both near home and abroad these additional units would be put to good use. I would suggest that HII be contracted to build 24 of the cutter versions over the next 12-15 years. The first 13 would be new additional CG hulls and next 11 would replace the existing NSC.
In the unlikely event it would happen, they would likely replace some of the OPCs. In addition to being a useful Navy reserve, they could also be better CG cutters.
Photo and specs as the design currently stands. http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php/focus-analysis/naval-technology/9565-final-design-and-technical-review-of-future-constellation-class-ffg-62-frigate-for-us-navy.html
Even more here. https://news.usni.org/2021/01/15/navy-first-constellation-frigate-will-start-fabrication-this-year-as-shipyard-expands#more-82788
Nice diagram of the new FFG here.
A more specific description of the FFGs powerplant here:
She will have about 16,000 HP in diesels generators, perhaps less from the motors the generators drive, so maximum cruise on diesels will be slower than that of either the NSCs or OPCs.
They will have a single gas turbine to allow them to do 26 knots, but still slower than the NSCs by at least a couple of knots.