Bath Iron Works, pictured in this file photo, will compete to build a new class of frigate for the U.S. Navy. (Dave Cleaveland/Maine Imaging via Bath Iron Works)

Bath Iron Works, pictured in this file photo, will compete to build a new class of frigate for the U.S. Navy. (Dave Cleaveland/Maine Imaging via Bath Iron Works)

BATH

Bath Iron Works plans to submit a concept design for a new class of frigates in response to an RFP issued by the Navy last week.

If BIW’s design is chosen, the shipyard will be tasked with building 20 FFG(X)-class frigates starting in 2020.

 

 

According to the RFP, the new frigate design must be based on an existing frigate that has been through production and demonstrated at sea. This response is intended to reduce risk of delays and additional costs, and is possibly a response to the Zumwalt-class destroyer built at BIW and the Littoral Combat Ship, both of which incorporated new technologies and saw unexpected costs.

BIW President Dirk Lesko said in a statement that the shipyard plans to use a hull designed by Navantia, a shipyard located in Spain, as its parent-design.

“Bath Iron Works evaluated many U.S. and foreign designs suited to the FFG(X) requirements and found that the family of frigates designed and built by Navantia is an ideal match,” Lesko said. “We look forward to continuing the productive relationship we have had with Navantia for nearly 40 years.”

The Navy is looking to build 20 frigates with the FFG(X) program, with the first one being procured in FY2020. That expedited schedule is one reason that the Navy is seeking designs that have already been produced and tested. According to a Congressional Research Services report, the new frigate design will not incorporate any new technologies or systems, instead relying on technologies already in use or development for other programs.

The FFG(X) will be a multi-mission ship capable of anti-air, anti-surface, antisubmarine and electromagnetic warfare.

The competition to build the FFG(X) is wide open, though the Navy is looking for only a single builder, with the plan to procure two frigates per year.

The frigates will be considerably less expensive than the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers currently built at Bath Iron Works, with and average unit procurement cost of not more than $950 million each according to the CRS report. The Arleigh Burke-class destroyers procured in 2018 cost nearly twice that, at $1,750 each.

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