Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM) officially started construction on the Navy’s first Constellation-class guided missile frigate recently in Wisconsin.

The future USS Constellation moved into the next stage of development as shipbuilders began cutting steel for the ship with members of the Navy, representatives of elected officials and community leaders on hand.

Two years ago the Navy selected FMM to design and build the Constellation-class frigate. The shipyard has received extensive upgrades and new facilities to efficiently build the new Navy vessels.

“We invested more than $300 million into our Marinette shipyard to build many frigates for the U.S. Navy,” Marco Galbiati, CEO of Fincantieri Marine Group, said in a statement announcing the start of construction. “Using our new facilities and industry leading best practices, we stand ready to deliver the two frigates a year the Navy requires.

The Navy is planning for at least 20 frigates to be built in the future, and Fincantieri intends to be a driving force in this surface combatant community, shipyard officials said.

“We continue to work extensively with the Navy’s program office to complete first ship design to give the Navy the ship they want,” said Mark Vandroff, CEO of FMM. “We are better than 80% complete on ship design prior to starting construction, which is consistent with best practices across the naval shipbuilding industry.”

FMM has been contracted to build the first three frigates, which the Navy named Constellation, Chesapeake, and Congress, with a historical nod to three of the original six frigates commissioned by the Navy in the late 1780s. FMM has contract options with the Navy for seven additional ships.

FMM used the European frigate FREMM as the basis for their frigate design.