Navy: Construction of New Frigate Starts in Early Fiscal 2022

An artist’s rendering of the guided-missile frigate FFG(X). The new small surface combatant will have multi-mission capability to conduct air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, electronic warfare, and information operations. Construction on the lead ship is set to begin in the first quarter of fiscal 2022. U.S. Navy

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy plans to start construction of the lead ship of the Constellation-class guided-missile frigate (FFG) during the first quarter of fiscal 2022 (the fall of calendar 2021), a Navy official said. 

Speaking Jan. 12 at a webinar during the Surface Navy Association’s annual convention, Capt. Kevin Smith, the Navy’s program manager for the Constellation frigate, laid out a timeline for the FFG 62 program. The keel-laying of the Constellation is slated for the first quarter of fiscal 2023, and delivery of the ship to the Navy is scheduled for the third quarter of 2026. 

The Navy plans to build 20 Constellation-class FFGs. Under the initial Detailed Design and Construction contract, the first Constellation-class FFG will be built, with options for nine additional hulls. Plans Three are funded one each in fiscal 2020-2022; two each in 2023-2024; three in 2025; and two each in 2026-2030.   

The focus of the FFG 62 program office in 2021, Smith said, is on approval of the ship design; conducting the Critical Design Review and Production Readiness Review; and starting construction of the first ship. 

Smith said the cost of the lead FFG will be $1.28 billion, which includes $795 million for the fixed-price design and construction contract, with the remainder covering the cost of government-furnished equipment and support. The Navy is required by Congress to keep the average cost of each of the nine follow-on ships between $800 million to $950 million in fiscal 2018 dollars. He said the average cost of the next nine FFGs is estimated to be $781 million in 2018 dollars. 

Smith said the Navy is looking at potential need to extend production of the FFG to a second shipyard after the first 10 ships are delivered. With a second shipyard, the cost of a hull could change. He stressed the need to promote competition and affordability for a second order of 10 FFGs.  

A slide presented by Smith gave more detail to the characteristics of the Constellation. It will have a length overall of 496.1 feet, a beam of 64.6 feet, and a draft of 18 feet. Fully loaded displacement will be 7,291 long tons. 

The ship will have personnel accommodations of 200 personnel. The design crew will be 24 officers and 176 enlisted Sailors.  

Weapon systems on the ship will include one Mk110 gun; 32 Mk41 vertical launch system cells; 16 launchers for the Naval Strike Missile, a Mk49 launcher for the Rolling Airframe Missile; the Mk 53 decoy launching system; and the SLQ-32(V)6 electronic counter-measures system. 

Smith the FFG will have space, weight capacity, power and cooling for a future directed energy weapon, but not a railgun. 

Combat systems installed will include the Aegis Baseline 10; SPY-6(V)3 Enterprise Air Search Radar; Mk48 gun weapon system; SQQ-89(V)16 undersea warfare system; and Variable-Depth Sonar System. 

Aviation capability will include one MH-60R Seahawk and a vertical takeoff unmanned aerial vehicle. 

Smith said with the lead ship contract award, the Constellation will have greater than 96% of U.S.-made content in terms of value. 

The program manager said the Constellation will have tubes to launch 16 Naval Strike Missiles.