In partnership with Lockheed Martin, Fincantieri has won a contract for the construction of 10 Littoral combat ships (LCS).

The first vessel is worth $437 million and the remaining nine ships will be purchased by a number of options to be exercised by the US Navy within 2015, taking the total value of the contract to over $4 billion. The LCS program provides for the construction of a total of 55 ships within 2020, for a value of over $20 billion.

While the vessels will be built at Fincantieri’s U.S. yards a substantial amount of work will be carried out by the Group’s Systems and Components Unit, including the Isotta Fraschini electrical diesel generators and the ship’s cutting edge stabilizer system which have already been incorporated in the first two vessels built.

The vessels are medium-size ships suitable for deployment in a range of mission types for defense from threats of an “asymmetric” nature (as terrorist attacks), since the ships have three types of combat modules on one single platform (surface, mine-hunting, anti-submarines).

LCS have a displacement at full load of 3,000 tons; they are 115 meters long with a beam of 17.5 meters. The flight deck is particularly wide and there is a large hangar which can accommodate two helicopters. With a combined diesel/turbogas propulsion system the ships can reach a speed of 45 knots.

The ship’s hull has been developed from the experience Fincantieri gained with the fast monohull “Destriero” (the vessel which in 1992 broke the record for crossing the Atlantic Ocean at an incredible average speed of 53 knots, with peaks of 70 knots) and from Fincantieri base designs for a large number of fast ferries delivered in recent years.

The ships will be built at Fincantieri’s Marine Group of Marinette Marine shipyard in Wisconsin, where the company already built the first LCS ship, the “Freedom” – in service since 2008 for the U.S. Navy and deployed in anti-drug operations. The yard is currently building the “Fort Worth”, which was launched Dec. 4 and will be delivered to the Navy within 2012.

Orders which Fincantieri has already gained in the U.S. include an oceanographic research vessel to operate in polar waters (Alaska Region Research Vessel - ARRV) for the University of Fairbanks (Alaska), another oceanographic research vessel ordered by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). In addition, in 2010 an order for 39 RB-M vessels (out of a total of 105) was placed by the US Coast Guard for construction at ACE Marine shipyard; 35 have already been delivered.

Furthermore, Fincantieri has high expectations for the Sea Base-to-Shore Connector (SSC) program – a new fleet of hovercraft for the U.S. Navy (80 vessels worth $4 billion). Fincantieri entered into an agreement with Boeing in 2009 for the purpose of winning this contract.