The Italian Almanac

USS Freedom

Working for the Navy

Italian shipbuilding giant Fincantieri is playing a leading role in the building of two new-generation Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) that the United States Navy has ordered with a budget of $715 million. The contract for the ships was awarded to a consortium headed by US defense colossus Lockheed Martin and is part of an over-$20-billion-program to acquire 55 LCSs by 2020.

The two ships, to be named USS Little Rock and USS Sioux City, are being built at Fincantieri's Marinette Marine shipyard in Wisconsin, which produced the first LCS prototype in 2008, the USS Freedom, the year before the state-owned Fincantieri acquired the American shipyard. A third ship, the Fort Worth, is in an advanced stage of construction and should be ready for delivery in June.

''Our program has benefited from the experience gained in building the Freedom, taking into account the requests made by the client, the rationalization of the productive process, investments already carried out and those planned to speed up production and boost efficiency, including doubling the production area with two new dry docks,'' Fincantieri said in a statement.

The Lockheed-Fincantieri consortium will not build all 55 vessels, however, because Congress has decided to split the program between it and Austral USA, the American arm of the Australian shipbuilder.