Shipboard

Fincantieri Marinette moves forward with propulsion and on-board electronics for Constellation-class frigate

BATH, Maine – US Navy surface warfare experts ask shipbuilder Fincantieri Marinette Marine Corp. in Marinette, Wisconsin, to plan the construction of an onshore engineering site in Philadelphia for the future Constellation-class frigate.

Officials at Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair, Bath, Maine, last month announced a $76.7 million order from Fincantieri Marinette Marine to purchase long-lead equipment for the land-based engineering site of the Constellation-class frigate.

Orders for long-lead items are among the first steps in large procurement programs. Long-lead items are difficult and time-consuming to obtain, and are funded early in the design process to keep overall production on schedule. The contracts for the construction of the engineering center itself will come later.

The Philadelphia Land Test Site will test the propulsion system and other machinery of the future Constellation-class frigate design, as well as identify and fix problems before they cause problems during the construction of the future frigate USS Constellation (FFG 62), whose delivery is scheduled for 2026.

Related: Navy shipbuilding and shipboard electronics strive to do more with less

The Constellation-class frigate will replace the now retired Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates, the last of which, USS Ingraham (FFG 61), was retired from service in 2014.

Frigates are generally lighter escort ships than destroyers and help defend carrier battle groups or merchant convoys against threats from submarines, aircraft and cruise missiles. They are intended to operate on the high seas, unlike the Navy’s littoral combat ship, which is designed to operate in coastal waters and ports.

The Constellation-class frigate will be able to track Navy aircraft carriers and will have sensors networked with the rest of the fleet. It will normally be part of Navy strike groups and large surface combatant-led surface action groups, but may also operate and defend in independent operations.

These frigates will have a minimum of 32 Mark 41 Vertical Launch System cells on board for anti-aircraft warfare. The ship will be designed to destroy surface ships on the horizon; detect enemy submarines; defend convoy ships; using active and passive electronic warfare systems; and defend against swarming attacks from small boats.

Related: US Navy Embarks on Future Force and Digital Transformation

On-board electronics will include the Lockheed Martin COMBATSS-21 combat management system; AN/SPY-6(V)3 Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR); AN/SPS-73(V)18 surface search radar; AN/SLQ-61 Light Towed Array Sonar; AN/SQS-62 Variable Depth Sonar; AN/SQQ-89F Underwater and Anti-Submarine Warfare System; and Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC).

The Constellation-class frigate will house 32 vertical launch system cells that can handle RIM-162 ESSM Block 2 and/or RIM-174 Standard ERAM missiles; Standard RIM-66 SM-2 Block 3C; the naval strike missile; RIM-116 rolling cell missile; 57 millimeter Mk 110 gun; and machine guns. The ship will be able to carry an MH-60R Seahawk helicopter and the MQ-8C Firescout unmanned helicopter.

The frigates will use a combined diesel-electric and gas-powered hull, a mechanical and electric propulsion system that has never been used in any other US Navy ship. The new propulsion system must be tested ashore to reduce the risk of engine failure, a problem for the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ships.

The Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems segment in Moorestown, NJ, is designing the combat management system for the Constellation-class frigate. The combat system is based on the company’s COMBATSS-21 ship’s combat management system, which is found onboard the Freedom-class littoral combat ships.

Related: On-board electronics enter the 21st century

COMBATSS-21 is built on an open architecture scalable framework using undeveloped software, according to Lockheed Martin officials. Custom software adapters called Frontier Components support sensors, communications, and weapon interfaces, and are designed to accommodate future technology insertion and system upgrades with minimal effect on the basic system software.[scoresoftware[scoresoftware

In addition to developing the combat management system for the Navy’s future Constellation-class frigates, Lockheed Martin is also building the Navy’s Aegis combat system for Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and Ticonderoga-class cruisers in its facilities in Moorestown, NJ.

The Lockheed Martin COMBATSS-21 architecture isolates sensors, communications and on-board weapons from core command and control system components to prevent major system bugs and speed software certification.

COMBATSS-21 can run on computer configurations ranging from a commercial processor running a commercial operating system to more distributed configurations, to allow the COMBATSS-21 system to adapt to vessels ranging from patrol boats to large deck vessels , according to Lockheed Martin officials.

Related: Navy pushes unmanned systems aboard ships, lethality upgrades

The Lockheed Martin COMBATSS-21 combat management system borrows technology from Navy Aegis cruisers and destroyers, as well as the US Coast Guard’s Deepwater program.

The future USS Constellation will be the lead ship of a class of at least 20 frigates. The hull of the frigate is based on the Italian FREMM-class frigate. The first three ships of the class are under contract with Fincantieri Marinette Marine.

Constellation and her first two sister ships, USS Congress (FFG-63) and USS Chesapeake (FFG-64) are named after three of the Navy’s six original frigates — USS Chesapeake; ASU Constitution; president of the ASU; USS United States; ASU Congress; and USS Constellation – built between 1797 and 1800. Of these original ships, USS Constitution is still a Navy commissioned warship and is based in Boston.

On this order, Fincantieri Marinette Marine will perform the work in Marinette, Wisconsin, and is expected to be completed by October 2025. For more information, contact Fincantieri Marinette Marine online at https://fincantierimarinegroup.com , or the supervisor of shipbuilding, conversion, navy. and repair at www.navsea.navy.mil/Home/SUPSHIP.