During his presentation at the symposium, Captain Smith emphasized that the Constellation-class is a frigate, not a destroyer, and that it should not be expected to carry the same weapon load as DDGs. However, he highlighted that the new frigates will relieve DDGs by performing escort missions to protect high-value assets. Answering a media question, Captain Smith confirmed that he is targeting April 2022 for the start of construction of the lead ship.
Captain Smith stated that the program, for which the contract was awarded to Fincantieri Marinette Marine back in April 2020, is currently in the detailed design phase. He emphasized that they are working not only on the ship’s primary components, such as the AEGIS combat system baseline 10, but also on the ship’s subsystems, such as electrical infrastructure, piping, firefighting systems, and so on.
The Secretary of the Navy has already named the first three ships, Constellation (FFG-62), Congress (FFG-63) and Chesapeake (FFG-64). Fincantieri has been awarded two of those ships. In terms of the President’s budget focus areas, the third ship, the future USS Chesapeake, is an exercise option that they will consider this fiscal year (2022).
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