Fincantieri has begun to upgrade its facility used to launch ships at its Marinette Marine business’ shipyard in Wisconsin as the U.S. Navy’s decision on its future frigate program nears, Defense News reported Wednesday.
Competition for the FFG(X) frigate program is slated to commence in the summer of 2019 once the service completes a series of design assessments with top five proposers.
The Navy intends to procure the first FFG(X) frigate in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to the report.
Fincantieri’s upgraded facility would slowly float the ship instead of launching them sideways into the sea.
“You can’t recognize the yard now from what it was a few years ago. But due to the size of FFG(X) and, mainly, due to the added the workload for [multi-mission surface combatants], we needed to improve our capacity,” Enrico Bonetti, a senior vice president at Fincantieri’s international business unit, told the publication.
The report noted that two of the proposed ships for the future frigate program – Finantieri’s European Multi-Mission Frigate and Lockheed Martin’s littoral combat ship variant – would be developed at Marinette.