Citing littoral combat ship failures, Congress pushes the US Navy to get FFG(X) right

The U.S. Navy will have to set up a land-based testing site for the engineering plant destined for its new Constellation-class frigate program, according to a provision in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act on President Trump’s desk.

The frigate program, lately known as FFG(X), includes a propulsion system that hasn’t been used before in the Navy, which congressional authorizers see as a risk to be mitigated by a testing facility. The ship is being adapted from Fincantieri’s FREMM design, which was a strategy to reduce overall risk in the program by using an existing design.

“While recognizing an existing parent design can reduce design, technical, and integration risks,” an explanatory statement for the NDAA notes, “the conferees are concerned that significant risks remain in the FFG-62 program, including: cost realism; shifting to predominantly U.S. component suppliers instead of the mainly foreign suppliers used in the parent vessel design; and a complex Combined Diesel Electric and Gas Hull, Mechanical and Electrical (HM&E) drive train that has not previously been used on U.S. Navy ships.”

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