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US Navy faces great nightmare to build its new frigate

Written by Ruth Rodrigues
Published 09/06/2024 às 20:18
Changes to the original design of the US Navy's Constellation frigate increase uncertainty about its operational performance.
Changes to the original design of the US Navy's Constellation frigate increase uncertainty about its operational performance. Edition: Canva

The Constellation class of frigates, a promise of innovation for the US Navy, faces significant challenges and delays that call into question its future effectiveness. Changes to the original design and controversial construction decisions increase uncertainty about its operational performance.

The long-awaited class of Constellation frigates, intended to strengthen the United States Navy's fleet, is facing significant obstacles on the way to completion. Problems of unplanned weight growth and construction delays have raised concerns about the effectiveness of these vessels. As the U.S. Navy and construction company Fincantieri Marinette Marine seek solutions, crucial questions about the frigates' delivery and performance remain open.

Impacts of delayed delivery: Repercussions for national security

The design of the Constellation frigates was initially conceived as a strategy to save costs and time, taking advantage of the design of the French-Italian FREMM frigate.

However, substantial changes to the original design resulted in an unexpected increase in the size and weight of the vessels, as well as significant delays in the construction schedule.

The report released by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) highlighted challenges facing the Constellation class, including unplanned weight growth and design instability.

The delay in the delivery of the first frigate, currently estimated at three years, casts doubt on the Navy's ability to meet its operational goals.

Excess weight on the United States Navy frigate Constellation

As of September 2023, only a tiny fraction of the lead ship's construction has been completed, compared to planned progress.

The unplanned weight increase, reported in October 2023, represented an additional challenge for engineers and shipbuilders.

The Navy's decisions to continue construction, despite gaps in the design, contributed to this escalation in weight.

Starting construction of the USS Constellation without a finalized design was a controversial decision, contrary to common practices in the naval industry.

Although functional design and 3D modeling have progressed significantly, the differences from FREMM are now substantial, affecting even vital systems such as propulsion and machinery control.

Unplanned weight gain during construction poses both a short- and long-term threat to the operational capabilities of the Constellation frigates.

Concerns about a repeat of the problems faced by the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program, where substantial differences in early ships relegated them to secondary roles, are in the spotlight.

Source: Today in the Military World

With information from Naval Power.

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Ruth Rodrigues

Graduated in Biological Sciences from the State University of Rio Grande do Norte (UERN), she works as a writer and scientific disseminator.

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