Four Decades Later, the Gibbs & Cox Frigate Legacy Continues

June 18, 2020

The G&C designed FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry, now part of allied fleets all over the globe
The G&C designed FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry, now part of allied fleets all over the globe

In 1974, when Gibbs & Cox was awarded the contract to design the FFG-7, it came as evidence of our dedication to providing innovative, quality solutions to our customers. More than 45 years later, as part of the winning Fincantieri Marinette Marine’s FREMM team for FFG(X), we continue to deliver those same results. Our team is excited to have this opportunity to bring the new FFG(X) design to the fleet. With 24 classes of US navy combatants in our design history, we have remained on the cutting edge of technology and maritime innovation. Though many technological changes have occurred since our initial work on the FFG-7, Gibbs & Cox’s dedication to providing innovative quality solutions has never wavered, and our employees and company culture remain the key to our success.

As we begin FFG(X) detail design, we can’t help but reflect on what made the FFG-7 class the backbone of the US Navy for 30+ years. We interviewed several members of our team who began their careers working on the FFG-7 and who are looking forward to supporting the continued legacy. Their experiences and lessons learned from the FFG-7 and dozens of other projects are what set us apart from competition, and the passing of these experiences onto the newest generation of naval architects, designers, and marine engineers is what continues our legacy.

Rendering of the FFG(X), which will deliver the US Navy increased lethality, survivability, and improved capability
Rendering of the FFG(X), which will deliver the US Navy increased lethality, survivability, and improved capability

The FFG-7 design team consisted of highly skilled naval architects and engineers devoted to providing their best work, and we’re excited to bring the same level of expertise and devotion to the new design. Senior Program Manager Ed Topitz, a 46 year Gibbs & Cox employee, attributes much of the success of the FFG-7 program to the willingness of experienced personnel to guide new employees in growing their skills, a culture that remains prevalent within G&C to this day. Senior Principal Marine Engineer Michael Hulser, a 40 year Gibbs & Cox employee was a young engineer when he started on the FFG-7 and fondly recalls the mentorship and experience he gained on the program. He looks forward to “pass[ing] these experiences and knowledge to the current staff in the Engineering and Design Groups to provide a great design for FFG(X).” Principal Marine Engineer Fabian Canaval, another 46 year employee, noted that G&C has had to change to remain competitive in this highly specialized market but attributes our continued success to the company culture of “be[ing] “the best” at what we do.”

G&C Drafting Room, 1942
G&C Drafting Room, 1942

One of the most significant changes from the FFG-7 to the FFG(X) is the evolution of technology, not only in the ships themselves, but also in the design process. When Gibbs & Cox began designing the FFG-7, the architecture and engineering was all done by hand, requiring more in person group collaboration and several iterations of drawings. Assistant Engineering Group Vice Present David Rosenthal, a 36 year employee, gave us a further glimpse into the design technology of the past, saying that “the FFG used a 2D layer design control system using pen/ink on clear drawing sheets that where laid over each other. One sheet had all the structure and foundations, one had the arrangements and the third had the systems. Each system had a different color. All calculations and interference checks where performed manually.” This varies drastically from how we design ships today, and Mr. Hulser commented that we will design and engineer the FFG(X) exclusively with computers, CAD programs, and analysis tools. He noted that “G&C has kept current with these advances to remain competitive and at the forefront of the engineering and design process for the US Navy.”

 Major combatant design contracts are few and far between, and with the support of Gibbs & Cox’s design team the FFG-7 became one of the most successful and survivable classes of ships in the history of the US Navy, a legacy that will continue with the FFG(X). As the nation’s largest independent marine engineering and design firm, we have the resources necessary to provide outstanding service. Our tailored processes allow us to meet the specific needs of shipyard and government clients, and to deliver the best value and solutions to our client. Our designers and engineers are production-focused, applying computer-aided design, engineering, and analysis methods across all technical disciplines, delivering the highest-quality designs while ensuring affordable construction. Our knowledge and processes, honed with decades of customer alignment, ensure that G&C designs meet customer requirements while being cost effective and producible. We will leverage our expertise, past experience from the FFG-7, and our talented team to execute another successful design for the future US Navy Frigate. We have the right team and the right tools to deliver a top-of-the line ship, and all of us at Gibbs & Cox are looking forward to delivering the FFG(X) to the Navy throughout the 21st century.

"G&C has excelled at both understanding and covering our needs.  They have excelled at schedule control, quality, attention to detail and cost control on this project.  I look forward to a continuing business relationship with Gibbs and Cox and will wholeheartedly recommend them for other ventures.”