The Navy has awarded Marinette Marine Corp. a $15 million contract to evolve its multipurpose frigate (FREMM) design into the next generation FFG(X) guided missile frigate.

Marinette, a Fincantieri subsidiary, has teamed with Gibbs & Cox and Trident Maritime Systems to evolve FREMM to U.S. design standards. The U.S. team will develop an FFG(X) design for serial production at Fincantieri U.S. shipyards. Over the past nine years, Fincantieri said, the company has developed a highly skilled workforce, a strong supply chain, and expertise in building ships to Navy standards.

Closely matched to Navy requirements, six FREMM frigates are in service with the Italian navy and have successfully completed multirole missions worldwide. A FREMM-based design has also been chosen in Australia for the final stage of the SEA5000 project to acquire nine AEGIS-equipped anti-submarine warfare frigates for the Royal Australian Navy.

“We are honored to see the FREMM down-selected by the U.S. Navy on grounds of being a well-proven, highly capable and modern design, based on a deployed, high-performing ship, which is the closest to the FFG(X) requirements,” Fincantieri CEO Giuseppe Bono, said in a statement announcing the contract. “We are committed to continue to play a part in the development of the U.S. Navy’s small surface combatant strategy, central to our customer’s long-term goals for fleet size, and to the growth of the American shipbuilding export industry.”

Fincantieri Marinette was founded in 1942 along the Menominee River in Marinette, Wis., to meet the growing demand for wartime naval construction. From humble beginnings with a contract to build five wooden barges, Marinette Marine has grown into a world-class shipbuilder, having designed and built more than 1,500 vessels. Its government portfolio includes the Navy’s Freedom-variant littoral combat ship, mine countermeasure vessels and ocean tugs, as well as Coast Guard icebreakers, buoy tenders and the response boat-medium.