Navy Selects Five Shipbuilders for Frigate Design Competition
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy has awarded five contracts to shipbuilders for the conceptual design of the next shipbuilding program, the Guided-Missile Frigate (FFG(X)), Naval Sea Systems Command announced in a Feb. 16 release.
“These conceptual designs will reduce FFG(X) risk by enabling industry to mature designs to meet the approved FFG(X) capability requirements,” the release said. “The contracts based on these requirements will facilitate maturing multiple designs during the 16 months of the Conceptual Design phase and will allow the Navy to better understand the cost and capability drivers across the various design options. Furthermore, this will inform the final specifications for a full and open competition with a single source award in [fiscal] ‘20 for Detail Design and Construction of the FFG(X).
“The entrance criteria for the Conceptual Design phase is that offerors must have a parent design that has been demonstrated at sea and must already be paired with a domestic shipyard for potential production, which will reduce the necessary development timeline,” the release said.
According to the Defense Department’s Feb. 16 contract announcements, the five companies awarded the firm fixed-price conceptual design contracts — each worth almost $15 million — are:
■ Austal USA LLC, Mobile, Alabama
■ Huntington Ingalls Inc., Pascagoula, Mississippi
■ Lockheed Martin Inc., Baltimore
■ Marinette Marine Corp., Marinette, Wisconsin
■ General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine
Four of the companies had been involved in design or production of the Navy’s littoral combat ships, which the new FFG will succeed to meet the Navy’s requirement for small surface combatants: Austal, Lockheed Martin, Marinette Marine and General Dynamics.
The Navy plans to procure 20 FFGs, beginning with one in 2020, one in 2021 and two per year in subsequent years.
“The Navy’s 2016 Force Structure Assessment revalidated the warfighting requirement for a total of 52 small surface combatants,” the Navy release said. “While the littoral combat ships currently being delivered provide valuable capability as focused-mission ships, the Navy also needs the multi-mission capability of the FFG(X). Throughout the accelerated acquisition process for FFG(X), the Navy will incentivize industry to balance cost and capability and achieve the best value solution for the American taxpayer. This approach aligns to the National Defense Strategy’s stated goal of achieving a more lethal, resilient, and agile force by pursuing acquisition strategies to build ships more quickly and affordably, achieving the Navy the Nation Needs.”