With the SEA 5000 contest run and done and only the final decision still outstanding, Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri is now upping its pitch for the US Navy’s FFG(X) program.
Dario Deste, chairman of Fincantieri Australia, said the company’s participation in two of the largest naval programs in the world reinforced the superiority of the FREMM platform and its global leadership in the design and construction of the most technologically advanced vessels.
Showing off the FREMM design and its capability, Italian navy ship ITS Alpino, one of the seven FREMMs in Italian service, toured the US east coast, visiting Norfolk, New York, Baltimore and Boston. That tour has now concluded.
“The proposed FREMM design Fincantieri offered to the US Navy and the Royal Australian Navy is a new type of surface combatant that can deliver great combat capability for both navies,” Mr Deste said.
“The FREMM is the only ship in both programs that have been proven in combat, making it a global powerful warship. It also means potentially better interoperability between the two navies when conducting important military exercises, for example.”
Mr Deste said the FREMM was acknowledged as the leading anti-submarine warfare (ASW) frigate in service today and was actively engaged in conflict situations.
The FREMM is one of three contenders for SEA 5000, through which nine advanced ASW warships will be built in Australia to replace ageing Anzac frigates.
The other contenders are BAE Systems with its Type 26 and Navantia with its F-5000. The government is expected to announce its decision before the end of June.
FFG(X) is the US Navy program for a multi-mission vessel with greater blue water capability than its littoral combat ships (LCS). These vessels would have significant ASW, surface and air defence capabilities, although not at the level of its Aegis DDGs.
The US has ruled out any new designs and has funded five companies to evolve existing designs to meet their requirements. The contenders include Fincantieri with FREMM and Australian shipbuilder Austal USA with a design based on their Independence Class LCS.
The first contract for the first ship will be awarded in 2020.
Fincantieri builds Freedom Class LCS for the US Navy at a yard in Marinette, Wisconsin. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor, with Gibbs and Cox as naval architects.
“The Lockheed Martin and Fincantieri team are currently in full-rate production of the LCS Freedom variant and have delivered five ships to the US Navy to date,” said Joe DePietro, Lockheed Martin Corporation vice president for small combatants and ship systems.
“Beginning in 2010, the shipyard was transformed to enable serial production of LCS, a complex, high speed naval surface combatant. The result is the ability to produce and deliver ships at a rate of two-plus per year to support the need for this essential asset to the US Navy.”
Mr DePietro said there were now eight ships in various stages of construction at Fincantieri Marinette Marine, with one more in long-lead production.