US Navy Constellation (FFG-62) Class Frigate Program: Background and Issues for Congress
(Source: Congressional Research Service; issued Sept. 29, 2021)
A diagram excerpted from the CRS report shows how Finmeccanica significantly modified its FREMM frigate to accommodate US Navy requirements. (CRS image)
The Navy began procuring Constellation (FFG-62) class frigates (FFGs) in FY2020, and wants to procure a total of 20 FFG-62s. Congress funded the first FFG-62 in FY2020 at a cost of $1,281.2 million (i.e., about $1.3 billion) and the second in FY2021 at a cost of $1,053.1 million (i.e., about $1.1 billion).

The Navy’s proposed FY2022 budget requests $1,087.9 million (i.e., about $1.1 billion) for the procurement of the third FFG-62, and $69.1 million in advance procurement (AP) funding for the fourth and fifth FFG-62s, which are programmed for procurement in one or more future fiscal years.

Four industry teams competed for the FFG-62 program. On April 30, 2020, the Navy announced that it had awarded the FFG-62 contract to the team led by Fincantieri/Marinette Marine (F/MM) of Marinette, WI.

F/MM was awarded a fixed-price incentive (firm target) contract for Detail Design and Construction (DD&C) for up to 10 ships in the program—the lead ship plus nine option ships. The other three industry teams reportedly competing for the program were led by Austal USA of Mobile, AL; General Dynamics/Bath Iron Works (GD/BIW) of Bath, ME; and Huntington Ingalls Industries/Ingalls Shipbuilding (HII/Ingalls) of Pascagoula, MS.

As part of its action on the Navy’s FY2020 and FY2021 budgets, Congress has passed provisions relating to U.S. content requirements for certain components of each FFG-62 class ship, as well as a provision requiring the Navy to conduct a land-based test program for the FFG-62’s engineering plant (i.e., its propulsion plant and associated machinery).

The FFG-62 program presents several potential oversight issues for Congress, including the following:

-- the Navy’s emerging force-level goals for frigates and other surface combatants;
-- the accuracy of the Navy’s estimated unit procurement cost for FFG-62s, particularly when compared to the known unit procurement costs of other recent U.S. surface combatants;
-- the potential impact of the COVID-19 situation on the execution of U.S. military shipbuilding programs, including the FFG-62 program;
-- whether to build FFG-62s at a single shipyard at any one time (the Navy’s baseline plan), or at two or three shipyards;
-- whether the Navy has appropriately defined the required capabilities and growth margin for FFG-62s;
-- whether to take any further legislative action regarding U.S. content requirements for the FFG-62 program;
-- technical risk in the FFG-62 program; and
-- the potential industrial-base impacts of the FFG-62 program for shipyards and supplier firms in the context of other Navy and Coast Guard shipbuilding programs.


Click here for the full report (30 PDF pages) on the CRS website.

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