The Navy secretary has announced that the first vessel in the new guided-missile frigate class of ships will be called the Constellation — becoming the fifth ship in Navy history to carry the name.
“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,” Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite said Wednesday., according to a Navy news release.
“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,” Braithwaite said aboard the museum ship USS Constellation in Baltimore Inner Harbor.
The name honors the very first U.S. Navy ships: Constellation, Constitution, Chesapeake, Congress, United States, and President. Congress authorized the six frigates in 1794, and the Constellation name was submitted to President George Washington the following year to recognize the “new constellation of stars” stitched on the American flag.
The original frigate accommodated 340 personnel and 38 guns while it was in service for more than 50 years. The Navy introduced another warship called Constellation to the fleet in 1854, which now serves as a museum ship.
Several other Navy vessels have been given the Constellation name as well, including the Kitty Hawk-class aircraft carrier Constellation that was decommissioned in 2003 after serving in operations for the Vietnam War, first Persian Gulf War and Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.
The Navy announced in April that the service had chosen Fincantieri’s design for the next generation of frigates. The Navy said the vessel is designed to operate either on its own or with a strike group to provide capabilities including an Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar, Mk 41 Vertical Launching System, and a Baseline 10 Aegis Combat System.
The vessel’s “lethality, survivability, and improved capability will provide Fleet Commanders multiple options while supporting the National Defense Strategy across the full range of military operations,” the Navy said in a news release.
The first batch of up to 10 frigates will be constructed at Marinette Marine Corp. in Marinette, Wisconsin. The Navy has yet to determine if it will continue working with Marinette for subsequent frigates. In total, the service aims to acquire a total of at least 20 frigates as it shoots to build up to a 355-ship, or more, fleet.
Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition James Geurts told reporters in April that creating a detailed design of the new vessel would commence immediately while construction would get underway by April 2022, if not earlier.
The first Constellation-class frigate is slated to hit the fleet in 2026 and final operational capability should be reached by 2032, according to Geurts.