Navy Names New Frigates the “Constellation Class”

Mike Schuler
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October 8, 2020

An artist rendering of the guided-missile frigate FFG(X). U.S. Navy graphic/Released

U.S. Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite has selected “Constellation” as the name of the Navy’s newest class of frigates.

The name was announced by Braithwaite this week while aboard the museum ship Constellation in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The lead ship in the class, USS Constellation (FFG 62), will be the fifth ship to bear the name Constellation.

The name was selected in honor of the first U.S. Navy ships authorized by Congress in 1794 — six heavy frigates named United States, Constellation, Constitution, Chesapeake, Congress, and President – which helped establish the United States as a global force on the high seas. Built in in Baltimore in 1797, the first Constellation was a 38-gun frigate with a crew of 340 personnel. It remained in service for more than 55 years, circumnavigating the globe, and was eventually being dismantled in 1853. The second Constellation was a sloop-of-war launched in 1854 and was the last sail-only warship designed and built by the U.S. Navy.

“As the first in her class, these ships will now be known as the Constellation Class frigates, linking them directly to the original six frigates of our Navy, carrying on the traditions of our great service which have been passed down from generation to generation of Sailors,” said Braithwaite. “While providing an unmatched capability and survivability for the 21st Century, Constellation Class Frigates will honor our Navy’s historic beginnings as we continue to operate around the world in today’s era of Great Power Competition.”

The Constellation-class frigates will be designed as a small surface combatant with multi-mission capability including air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, electronic warfare, and information operations.

Fincantieri won an initial $795 million fixed-priced contract an initial $795 million fixed-priced contract for the detailed design and construction back April for the first vessel in the new class. The contract included options for up to nine additional vessels. All of the frigates will be built at Fincantieri’s Marinette Marine shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin with the first ship scheduled for delivery in 2026.

Kenneth J. Braithwaite was sworn in as the 77th Secretary of the Navy May 29, 2020. At his confirmation hearing in early May, Braithwaite told the the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Trump Administration’s goal of a 355-ship fleet should be a minimum despite budget constraints.

“As the next generation of small surface combatants will contribute to meeting the goal of 355 battle force ships,” the Navy said in a statement, referring to Constellation frigates.

 

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