• LCS17, soon to be USS Indianapolis, at Fincantieri Marinette Marine on November 20. Credit: ADM Nigel Pittaway
    LCS17, soon to be USS Indianapolis, at Fincantieri Marinette Marine on November 20. Credit: ADM Nigel Pittaway

Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri has revealed that it will seek to build three cruise ship hull blocks in Australia as it prepares for the Future Frigate program, being delivered under Sea 5000.

Fincantieri Australia has released to South Australian shipbuilders a Request for Proposals (RFP) to build three cruise ship blocks in Adelaide, with Australian steel, commencing in the second quarter of 2018.

The companies invited to provide quotations are ASC Shipbuilding, Adelaide Ship Construction International, MG Engineering and Ottoway Engineering (Whyalla).   

Fincantieri is competing with BAE Systems and Navantia for Sea 5000, a decision for which is expected in the first half of 2018, and is proposing a version of its FREMM design, based on the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) variant in service with the Italian Navy. The decision to build the hull blocks in Australian yards is independent of the Sea 5000 outcome Fincantieri said.

The hull blocks, for the cruise ship for Coral Sea Expeditions, will be built in Australian shipyards from 2018 and will train the local shipbuilding workforce in Fincantieri tools and methods, according to Fincantieri Australia chairman Dario Deste.

“We are focussed on developing a capability in Australia, the supply chain is very important for us, because it will form the base for future shipbuilding,” Deste said.

“We want to show that we are committed to begin construction of the first ship in 2020, should we be successful in Australia.”

Fincantieri has 20 shipyards around the world, including facilities in Italy, Brazil, Vietnam and the US. In the US, the company has teamed with Lockheed Martin on the Freedom class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program, which so far has delivered five ships from its yard in Marinette, Wisconsin, on the shores of Lake Michigan.

The company is also teaming with Lockheed Martin for the US Navy’s FFG(X) frigate program and is offering either a further version of the FREMM, or an evolved LCS design.

President and CEO Francesco Valente said that Fincantieri Marine Group will prime the FREMM proposal and Lockheed Martin will do likewise for the LCS variant. A Request for Proposal (RFP) for the FFG(X) program has been released to industry, with a decision expected in 2020. The US Navy is set to acquire at least 20 frigates under the FFG(X) competition.

Disclaimer: ADM travelled to the US as a guest of Fincantieri Australia

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