Marinette Marine Corp., Marinette, Wisconsin, is awarded a $795,116,483 fixed-price incentive (firm target) contract for detail design and construction (DD&C) of the FFG(X) class of guided-missile frigates, with additional firm-fixed-price and cost reimbursement line items.
The contract with options will provide for the delivery of up to 10 FFG(X) 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 $5,576,105,441.
Work will be performed at multiple locations, including Marinette, Wisconsin (52%); Boston, Massachusetts (10%); Crozet, Virginia (8%); New Orleans, Louisiana (7%); New York, New York (6%); Washington, D.C. (6%), Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin (3%), Prussia, Pennsylvania (3%), Minneapolis, Minnesota (2%); Cincinnati, Ohio (1%); Atlanta, Georgia (1%); and Chicago, Illinois (1%).
The base contract includes the DD&C of the first FFG(X) ship and separately priced options for nine additional ships. The FFG(X) will have multi-mission capability to conduct air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, and electronic warfare and information operations.
FFG(X) represents the evolution of the Navy's small surface combatant, with increased lethality, survivability and improved capability to support the National Defense Strategy across the full range of military operations in the current security environment.
Work is expected to be complete by May 2035, if all options are exercised.
Fiscal 2020 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) funding in the amount of $795,116,483 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.
This contract was competitively procured via the Federal Business Opportunities website and four offers were received. The Navy conducted this competition using a tradeoff process to determine the proposal representing the best value, based on the evaluation of non-price factors in conjunction with price.
The Navy made the best value determination by considering the relative importance of evaluation factors as set forth in the solicitation, where the non-price factors of design and design maturity and objective performance (to achieve warfighting capability) were approximately equal and each more important than remaining factors.
The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-20-C-2300).
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The FFG(X) program was decided to replace the final 20 Littoral Combat Ships when the US Navy finally conceded that neither LCS variant (USS Independence and USS Freedom) was capable of meeting its requirements.
The LCS light frigates, which has been ridiculed as “warships that can’t go into combat,” are too small, too lightly protected, insufficiently armed and generally incapable of carrying out their mission.
While both LCS variants displace about 3,000 tonnes, the Fincantieri Fremm design that has been chosen for the FFG(X) requirement is twice as large, at about 6,500 tonnes at full load, and will carry a greatly expanded weapons fit compared to the LCS, comprising 16 anti-ship missiles, a 16-cell vertical launch system and a 57mm turret-mounted gun instead of the 127mm gun fitted to the Fremm frigates in service with the Italian Navy.
Marinette Marine, the shipyard that will build the first ten FFG(X) frigates, is a subsidiary of Italy’s Fincantieri shipyards group.
In an April 28, 2020 report on the FFG(X) program, the Congressional Research Service said that “Congress funded the procurement of the first FFG(X) in FY2020 at a cost of $1,281.2 million (i.e., about $1.3 billion), while the Navy’s proposed FY2021 budget requests $1,053.1 million (i.e., about $1.1 billion) 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, CRS reported.
However, the contract awarded on April 30 (see above) only funds the detailed design and construction of the lead ship for $795 million, with the following nine ships to cost $4.8 billion, or about $531 million each.
The FFG(X) program calls for the construction of a class of 20 guided-missile frigates (FFGs), so a second contact covering the next ten ships will have to be awarded in the mid-2020s.
Significantly, the contract price announced by the US Navy is less than half the amount it requested from Congress, and at $531 million per ship it is just over half as much as previously estimated ($940 million) by the Navy.
Even more significantly, the FFG(X) will cost the US Navy no more than what the Italian Navy is paying for its own Fremm frigates.
This is a marked difference from Australia and Canada, which are paying more than twice as much as the Royal Navy for the Type 26 variants they contracted to buy.
While the Royal Navy is paying the equivalent of €1.42 billion for each of its own Type 26 frigates, Australia will pay €2.44 billion for its Hunter-class ships and Canada €2.59 billion for each of its CSC frigates, both local-built ships derived from the Type 26 design.)