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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Marinette Marine Wins $5.5 Billion Navy Contract

Issue Date: May 6, 2020

Officials of Fincantieri Marinette Marine learned on Thursday, April 30 that their firm has been awarded a nearly $800 million contract to build a first in its class guided missile frigate for the United States Navy, with an option for nine additional ships that could bring the cumulative value of this contract to $5.5 billion over the coming decade.

The initial contract to design and produce the first of the next generation small surface combatant FFG(X) was awarded on April 30. The award was announced by the Department of Defense following competition among several major U.S. shipyards that included Austal USA of Mobile, Ala.; Huntington Ingalls Industries and Bath Iron Works of Maine and Lockheed Martin.

The contract offers Marinette, Wis.-based FMM the option to build and deliver up to 10 ships, as well as post-delivery availability support, engineering and class services, crew familiarization, training, equipment, and provisioned item orders. Construction of the vessels is expected to continue through the mid 2030s.

"The Navy's guided missile frigate (FFG(X)) will be an important part of our future fleet," Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, said in a statement. "FFG(X) is 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. It will no doubt help us conduct distributed maritime operations more effectively, and improve our ability to fight both in contested blue-water and littoral environments."

"This is a massive win for northeast Wisconsin, for America, and for the free world," said Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, of Green Bay, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. Gallagher said the contract will create more than 5,000 direct and indirect jobs.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, of Madison, a Democrat, called it a "big win for our made-in-Wisconsin economy right now and it will support thousands of skilled workers at the Marinette Marine shipyard." Baldwin said the move will bring an additional 1,000 jobs to Marinette, Baldwin said. 

Fincantieri's guided missile frigate, FFG(X), is designed as a multi-mission small, surface combatant, Gallagher said in a news release. It is based on the FREMM European multi-mission frigate.

Marinette Marine has a history of shipbuilding contracts with the Navy, having built at least 10 Freedom variant littoral combat ships. Vice President Mike Pence visited the shipyard as he pushed for passage of a North American trade deal.

For more than a decade, Marinette Marine and another shipyard in Mobile Alabama have built littoral combat ships, the small speedy, shallow LCS watercraft. That work has supported thousands of jobs, and Marinette recently delivered its 10th LCS. The LCS is now being phased out and its replacement is to be the larger, heavier vessel based on the design of the FREMM European multi-mission frigate.

A $31 million grant from the State of Wisconsin to help improve the launch capabilities and dredge the Menominee River in the area of the shipyard helped make it possible for the Marinette shipyard to win the contract.

"When we began this journey two years ago it was with the belief that there was a place for new ideas, new platforms and new partners in an already talented U.S. shipbuilding industry. Thursday's announcement validates that thinking, " Fincantieri Marine Group CEO Dario Deste said in a news release after the contract award was announced. He congratulated the Navy on its decision to have their newest ship constructed by the hard working men and women of Marinette Marine.

The frigate design is based on an Italian warship, but plans are to build it in america with more than 95 percent American-made materials and components.

The FFG(X) will have multi-mission capability to conduct air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, electronic warfare, and information operations. Specifically FFG(X) will include an Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR) radar, Baseline Ten (BL10) AEGIS Combat System, a Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS), communications systems, MK 57 Gun Weapon System (GWS) countermeasures and added capability in the EW/IO area with design flexibility for future growth.

"I am very proud of the hard work from the requirements, acquisition, and shipbuilder teams that participated in the full and open competition, enabling the Navy to make this important decision today," said James Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition. "Throughout this process, the government team and our industry partners have all executed with a sense of urgency and discipline, delivering this contract award three months ahead of schedule. The team's intense focus on cost, acquisition, and technical rigor, enabled the government to deliver the best value for our taxpayers as we deliver a highly capable next generation frigate to our war fighters."

The acquisition process for FFG(X) began in 2017. Since then, the Navy has worked closely with industry to balance cost and capability. This approach was successful in achieving an average follow ship cost across ships two to 20 that is below the objective set in the CDD and 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. For example, because the frigate acquisition program promoted shipbuilding competition, included early industry involvement, and open communication between all stakeholders, the program was able to accelerate almost six years as compared to normal shipbuilding programs.

The Navy released the FFG(X) DD&C Request for Proposals to industry June 20, 2019. Technical proposals were received in August 2019, and cost proposals were received in September 2019. This was a full and open competition with multiple offers received.

The multi-mission FFG(X) will have the capability to conduct air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, electronic warfare and information operations.

It will specifically include an Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR) radar, Baseline Ten (BL10) AEGIS Combat System, and a Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS).

The small surface combatant will feature communications systems, MK 57 Gun Weapon System (GWS) counter measures, and added capability in the EW/IO area.

Features of the vessel are designed to be flexible for future growth.

US Navy research, development and acquisition assistant secretary James Geurts said: "Throughout this process, the government team and our industry partners have all executed with a sense of urgency and discipline, delivering this contract award three months ahead of schedule.

"The team's intense focus on cost, acquisition, and technical rigor, enabled the government to deliver the best value for our taxpayers as we deliver a highly capable next generation frigate to our war fighters."

Since the acquisition process for the frigate started in 2017, the Navy has worked closely with industry to balance cost and capability, the report said.

The early industry involvement of the frigate acquisition program has accelerated six years compared to normal shipbuilding programs, according to a shipbuilding association news report. Proposals for the FFG(X) DD&C Request were released by the US Navy in June last year.

Following that, technical proposals and cost proposals were received in August and September, respectively.

The Pentagon reportedly estimated the first ship would cost $1.2 billion and the nine subsequent ships would cost up to approximately $781 million each, in 2018 constant dollars.


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