Rolls-Royce will design and manufacture up to 40 fixed-pitch propellers for the U.S. Navy’s Constellation-class guided missile frigate program, under construction by Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, WI. The propellers will be cast at Rolls-Royce’s recently upgraded Pascagoula, MS, foundry.
Last year, the specialty alloy and stainless steel foundry was awarded $22 million by the U.S. Dept. of Defense under the Defense Production Act Title III, to support an update and expansion program that includes a new, 26,000-sq.-ft building.
The first set of propellers (two per ship) is scheduled to be delivered in 2023. According to Rolls-Royce, each propeller will weigh more than an average passenger bus, and the Rolls-Royce Pascagoula foundry is one of only two in the U.S. qualified to cast propellers of this size for the U.S. Navy. It further noted that 95% of the commissioned U.S. Navy surface fleet are equipped with Rolls-Royce propellers.
The Constellation-class guided-missile frigates (FFG) will be follow-on series of vessels to the USN’s littoral combat ships.
The ships’ design is based on Fregata Europea Multi-Missione (FREMM) frigate, a ship that Fincantieri has been built in two variants, one for the Italian Navy and one for the French Navy. The U.S. Navy’s Constellation-class is based on the former; it will have a length of 496.1 ft (144,59 m), a beam of 64.6 ft (19.69 m), a draft of 28.5 ft ( 8.68 m), and a displacement of 6,900 tons.
The FFG will be powered by a combined diesel-electric/gas propulsion system, able to reach 26 knots (48 km/h) top speed and a range of 6,000 nautical miles at 16 knots (30 km/h.)
The Navy plans 20 FFG vessels, the first of which was budgeted at $1.28 billion. The first 15 ships are scheduled to be supplied by 2026, with initial construction due to start this year.
In addition to fixed-pitch propellers controllable-pitch propeller systems, naval components manufactured by Rolls-Royce at Pascagoula include controllable-pitch propeller systems and water jets.