Fincantieri revamps Wisconsin shipyard ahead of FFG(X) bid

As part of investments Fincantieri is making at Marinette Marine shipyard in Wisconsin ahead of building an up-gunned frigate version of Lockheed Martin’s mono-hull variant of the littoral combat ship for Saudi Arabia, the company is building a modernized boat-launching facility that gently floats the ships rather than dropping them sideways into the water.

The changes are being implemented so launching ships will be less dramatic (they had been launched sideways) as a syncrolift, will be used. The syncrolift maneuvers vessels over a submerged cradle, which is then lifted by a set of synchronized hoists or winches.

But while the shipyard is primarily focused on the four Saudi multimission surface combatants at Marinette Marine, another, much larger prize is what is being pursued. This involves a 20-ship (and perhaps more) program for the U.S. Navy’s future frigate, which is planned foran open competition this summer.

When the Navy announced last year the top five competitors for the FFG(X) future frigate program, it was readily apparent that Fincantieri’s Marinette Marine was in a good position to grab a healthy slice of the business. Both the Lockheed Martin LCS variant and Fincantieri’s own bid — its European multimission frigate FREMM — would be built at Marinette, meaning that Fincantieri essentially has two of the five top choices. The work that Fincantieri is putting into the yard will help position the company in the competition.