Navy’s New Frigate Moves Closer to Next Milestone
Photo: NavyThe Navy is preparing to release a draft request for proposals for a new frigate by spring, a service official said Jan. 12.
“We’ll put a draft RFP on the street … in the next two months,” said Capt. Dan Brintzinghoffer, program manager for frigates at the program executive office for the littoral combat ship. “Then the RFP would be at the end of the year.”
The Navy is planning to purchase 40 littoral combat ships and a variant of the vessel known as a frigate. The total purchase reflects the reduction of 12 ships that outgoing Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter ordered in 2015.
The program office is working to mature the design of the frigates before the RFP is released, said Rear Adm. John Neagley, program executive officer at PEO LCS during a panel discussion at the Surface Navy Association’s annual conference in Arlington, Virginia.
“We’re working through those design turns to make sure that we have a good, mature design before we issue that RFP and before we … go into contract,” he said. The team is “working that very, very closely.”
The Navy plans to down select to a single design by fiscal year 2018, Brintzinghoffer said. It is closely working with the prime contractors of the two littoral combat ships, Lockheed Martin and Austal USA.
“We’re increasing the lethality. We’re increasing the capability. We’re increasing the survivability of the ships,” he said. “We’ve modified the designs that will allow the multi-mission frigate to have the full” anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare mission packages.
The vessel will also be outfitted with a more advanced command, control, communications, computers and intelligence suite than the LCS, Brintzinghoffer said.
“The communication suites are more in line with the DDG [guided missile destroyer] than they are with the LCS,” he said. “LCS has a very, very capable communication suite to execute a focused mission. You need a different communication suite when you’re designed to operate in a multi-warfare environment.”
Because the frigate will be designed to accommodate more missions than the LCS, it will be heavier, he said. That will affect its speed — one of the hallmarks of the littoral combat ship program.
“A heavier ship is not going to go 40 knots,” Brintzinghoffer said. “The Navy has changed the requirement for the ship in terms of speed because the requirement for that is multi-mission and enhancing survivability and lethality of that platform to perform those roles simultaneously and [by] doing that the ship is going to be a few knots slower.” The frigate will be able to reach speeds above 30 knots, he added.
So far industry has delivered nine littoral combat ships, Neagley said. Another seven are currently in construction, he said.
Buying the vessels in blocks has helped keep the program stable and has driven cost down, he said. It has been “an effective strategy for us and it has brought a lot of stability into that shipbuilding program,” he said. “It allowed our shipyard partners to invest in those shipyards, get the infrastructure right and help us deliver ships” two times a year.
Four littoral combat ships will be delivered in fiscal year 2017, he said.