The US Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro announced the name of the next Constellation-class frigate (FFG 67), the future USS Gálvez on 21 June 2024, at the US embassy in Madrid. 

The ship was appropriated in May 2024. The option to procure FFG 66 and FFG 67, the fifth and sixth vessels in this class, came at a cost of $1.04bn.

Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM), the US division of the Italian shipbuilder, laid steel of the first of the Constellation-class vessels (FFG 62), the future USS Constellation, in April 2024, after winning a $795m contract in 2020 for the lead frigate, with options for nine further ships that would bring the total cost up to $5.5bn. 

So far, the US Navy has ordered five additional ships, including the future USS Hamilton (FFG66),  USS Congress (FFG 63), USS Chesapeake (FFG 64), and USS Lafayette (FFG 65), and the most recently named USS Gálvez. Four vessels remain on option. 

Constellation-class frigates will perform in a variety of missions, including anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and electronic warfare, operating in both littoral and blue water environments. The frigates will be the first to join service with the US Navy since the Oliver Hazard Perry-class FFGs left service in 2015. 

The Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) were intended to overtake the capability left by the Oliver Hazard Perry-class FFGs, but the LCS programme was curtailed early following a series of issues in their first few years of operations. 

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The US Congressional Research Service stated that a seventh vessel is requested in the US Navy’s proposed budget, which seeks funds of $1.2bn for the ship. 

The rate of development of the Constellation-class frigate programme has been notably faster than typical US Navy procurements. The development has drawn on the access to mature component systems and the experience of US and Italian Navies with the Italian-French FREMM frigate, which serves as a template for the design of the Constellation-class ships. 

The high pace of development speaks to the US Navy’s requirement to match China’s naval posture, which maintains a numerical lead in naval vessels and continues to produce ships at a high rate. 

Additional reporting from Richard Thomas.