It’s hard to realize just how far Fincantieri Marinette Marine, formerly Marinette Marine, has advanced in the shipbuilding industry since the company’s roots in the early 1940s. From designing and building commercial fishing vessels, barges and a variety of smaller boats, the company is constructing military vessels that ply world waters.

The shipbuilder recently was awarded a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration to make additional upgrades at its sprawling grounds along the Menominee River. The potential for building more and larger ships for the U.S. Navy and foreign interests is stunning and exciting.

Grants from the Maritime Administration are designed to aid shipyards repair and modernize equipment, improve efficiency and boost productivity. The grant will provide Fincantieri Marinette Marine additional building capacity to support anticipated production of the Multi-Mission Surface Combative (MMSC) for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and future ships.

Dario Deste, CFO of Fincantieri Marine Group, pointed out the company has invested more than $100 million in recent years to improve facilities and develop its workforce. “These planned additions to the shipyard will make us more capable to build larger ships that our government customers desire,” he said.

The local shipyard is currently partnered with the U.S. Navy to design the new guided missile frigate, known as the FFG(X). Three other shipbuilders are also competing for the right to design the first FFG(X). They include Austal USA of Mobile, Alabama; General Dynamics of West Falls Church, Virginia; and Huntington Ingalls Industries of Newport News, Virginia.

The competition for the $1.2 billion initial design is expected to be completed in late 2020. The Navy wants to construct 20 frigates in the next 10 years.

The stakes are huge for the competitors. If Fincantieri Marinette Marine is successful in the bidding process for the frigate class of ships, company officials estimate a multibillion-dollar economic impact over the course of the program. The majority of suppliers on Fincantieri ‘s frigate program would be from the Midwest.

The local shipyard currently is building Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) for the U.S. Navy. It is in partnership with Lockheed Martin.

The Marinette shipyard is made up of 12 buildings with 550,000-square feet of production capacity. The company employs 1,500 workers. The company intends to acquire and install three additional 100-ton bridge cranes in a new hull erecting building that now is in the engineering and design phase.

The company’s workforce is the largest in the M&M area, plus a fleet of suppliers based in various locations of the Midwest.

Shipbuilding is a competitive industry. We find it amazing that our home-based shipbuilder is a fierce competitor on the world stage.