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Fincantieri Marinett Marine Breaks Ground

BY THE MARITIME EXECUTIVE 02-09-2021 08:36:00



Shipyard groundbreaking ceremonies are a rare occurrence in the COVID-19 era, and when they occur, they are grounds for celebration. On Tuesday, Fincantieri Marinette Marine broke ground on a new enclosed fabrication facility to accommodate production of the U.S. Navy's new FFG(X) frigate, the future Constellation class. 

Although Fincantieri Marinette would have preferred to hold an all-hands groundbreaking ceremony with the entire shipyard staff and the local community, it opted for a scaled-down version due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The attendees had a lot to celebrate: the new Building 34 will be the largest in the yard's history, and it will support work on a 10-hull, $5.5 billion contract for the Navy (if all options are exercised).

The multi-million dollar building is just one component of Fincantieri's $200 million capital expansion in Wisconsin. In addition, the largest ship lift in the U.S. is being built along the waterfront, as well as improvements to other buildings to facilitate upcoming frigate production. 

Across the bay at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding, construction is already under way on several new buildings where large blocks of the frigate’s hull will be constructed, then shipped to Marinette, where they will be joined together inside of Building 34.

“Building 34 is a key element to our Constellation-class frigate production,” said Dario Deste, president and CEO of Fincantieri Marine Group. “This will allow us to complete construction of two 500-foot ships at the same time inside of a massive climate-controlled facility. We are improving our facilities, but also adding to our workforce, with engineers, project managers, and nearly every skilled trade."

Fincantieri's FFG(X) design is based on its existing FREMM frigate, which is in use with French, Italian and Moroccan forces. The FREMM ("Fregata Europea Multi-Missione") has been in service since 2012, and the Italian Navy variant has a 30-knot top speed, a range of 6,800 miles and a 130-member crew. 

The FFG(X) is a multi-role surface combatant with built-in capability to conduct air defense, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare operations. Its systems will be derived from standard Navy gear, like an AN/SPY-6-based radar, a Baseline Ten (BL10) Aegis Combat System and a complement of Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) cells for SM-series missiles. These systems are in use aboard multiple U.S. Navy vessel classes, making it easier to keep spare parts in stock and train sailors on a common platform. FFG(X) will replace the lightly-armed Littoral Combat Ship variants in future production. 

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Arleigh Burke-class guided-missle destroyer USS Ralph returns to Homeport

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114) returned to its homeport of Naval Station Everett, Washington, Jan. 14, following its first deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operation.

Ralph Johnson first departed Naval Station Everett April 15, 2020, following a restriction-of-movement period. This period served as the first of many measures the ship took to mitigate the risk of crewmembers being exposed to COVID-19 during their deployment.

“The crew’s performance was amazing from start to finish,” said Cmdr. Rob Biggs, Ralph Johnson’s commanding officer. “They excelled in every operation and in all mission tasking. Through all of it they remained focused and united and continued to be committed to making each other better.”

Ralph Johnson conducted freedom of navigation operations, sailed in combined interoperability exercises with the Indian Navy, supported maritime security operations in support of the International Maritime Security Construct’s CTF-Sentinel for 48 days, provided regional ballistic missile and air defense and supported Operation Inherent Resolve while operating with USS Nimitz (CVN 68).

Also, during their deployment, while providing direct support to Combined Maritime Forces’ Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, Ralph Johnson interdicted a shipment of more than 2,000lbs of suspected narcotics from a vessel in the international waters of the Arabian Sea.

The ship conducted several port visits while on deployment, where Sailors were restricted to designated areas on the pier for liberty in order to mitigate the risk of contracting COVID-19, but also providing Sailors well deserved rest and relaxation with food, beverages and events coordinated by Moral, Welfare and Recreation.

Ralph Johnson steamed for a total of 78,186 miles during her maiden deployment. The ship was commissioned March 24, 2018.

Article from Navy News.

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26th Annual Fire and Ice Festival - Somerset PA

Global/SFC Valve Sponsored Ice Structure pictured above from the 26th Annual Fire and Ice Festival in Somerset, weekend of January 15th.  

Somerset Inc. was founded in 1993 as a part of the National Main Street program to revitalize Somerset's uptown and its economic growth and community.  The organization founded the Fire & Ice Festival in 1994 to draw visitors during what is a typically slower time for businesses.  Each year Global/SFC has sponsored this wonderful event.

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Makin Island ARG Operating in the South China Sea While Beijing Claims U.S. 'Muscle Flexing'


Chinese reports accuse the U.S. of “muscle-flexing” after an American amphibious ready group quietly deployed to the South China Sea earlier this week.

USS Makin Island (LHD-8) and USS Somerset (LPD-25) entered the South China Sea on Sunday, according to Chinese state press reports, a Beijing-backed think tank that monitors U.S. military movements in the South China Sea, and publicly available satellite imagery.

The move, not announced by the U.S. Navy, was decried in the Chines press as “a bluff and muscle-flexing action that pundits believe would damage regional stability,” according to a Monday report in the state-controlled Global Times.

In response to the American ARG operating in the region, a trio of Chinese warships conducted an “unscripted” live-fire drill in the South China Sea, Chinese language state media reported on Monday, according to Newsweek.

The People’s Liberation Army Navy corvettes were operating off the southern coast of China and conducted the drills the day after the amphibious warships transited into the South China Sea past the Philipines.

U.S. Navy officials told USNI News the Chinese corvettes were hundreds of miles away from the two American ships and that the Chinese operations were likely not in reaction to the U.S. ships. An official also said the two amphibious warships had not encountered any unsafe or unprofessional behavior from Chinese ships in the South China Sea.

The ARG entered the region at the same time as Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller was on a regional tour that includes Indonesia, the Philippines and Hawaii, according to press reports.

Makin Island,
 Somerset and USS San Diego (LPD-22) departed the West Coast in October to complete final certification exercises ahead of a deployment with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked.

While the Makin Island ARG and 15th MEU completed their certifications in mid-November and have since continued west towards the South China Sea, the Navy has yet to officially confirm that the units are deployed for national tasking.

“The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) are currently underway in U.S. 7th Fleet. U.S. forces routinely operate in the region to include the South China Sea as we have for more than a century as a commitment to regional stability and a free and open Indo-Pacific,” U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Myers Vasquez said in a statement to USNI News. “All of our operations are designed to be conducted in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows.”

When asked by USNI News over the last several weeks, the Navy has said the ARG/MEU was “conducting routine operations” without providing additional information.

The months-long process for training and certifying an ARG/MEU for a deployment is well understood by allies and adversaries alike. Makin Island went to sea in October to complete its Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) ahead of deployment. The ARG/MEU left the U.S. 3rd Fleet area of operations in the last two weeks for the Western Pacific.

The line for when a ship is in training versus when it’s available for national tasking has become much thinner since the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic. In the past, after COMPTUEX an ARG or carrier strike group would return to port for upwards of a month ahead of the formal deployment. Now, to minimize the possibility of sailors contracting COVID-19 ahead of deployment, they quarantine ahead of the drills and then remain at sea throughout COMPTUEX and into the start of the deployment.

U.S. Pacific Fleet has been inconsistent in announcing deployments of major fleet units like ARGs and carrier strike groups since current commander Adm. John Aquilino took over in 2018.

Aquilino, the Trump administration’s nominee to command U.S. Indo Pacific Command, has at times directed no notice when major formations deploy, several defense officials have told USNI News over the last 18 months.

Earlier this week, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) departed from San Diego, Calif., with no notice for a sustainment exercise that will roll into a deployment, USNI News understands. “The strike group is a combat-ready national asset capable of both deterrence and offensive strike that provides our national command authority with flexible options, all domain access, and a visible forward presence,” 3rd Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Sean Robertson told USNI News on Monday.

Article by: Sam LaGrone


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