An artist’s rendering of the USS Constellation, a new class of frigate which will be based at Naval Station Everett. (Fincantieri Marine Group via U.S. Navy)

An artist’s rendering of the USS Constellation, a new class of frigate which will be based at Naval Station Everett. (Fincantieri Marine Group via U.S. Navy)

Navy picks Everett as homeport for new class of frigates

The first 12 Constellation-class ships will be based here. The first is under construction.

EVERETT — The U.S. Navy announced Wednesday that Naval Station Everett has been designated as the future homeport for the first ships of a next generation of guided missile frigates, which it describes as “a new and improved class of small surface combatant ships.”

Everett will serve as the homeport for 12 Constellation-class frigates, with a future Navy decision planned for the ships that follow.

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, described the announcement as “good news” that “shows the Navy’s long-term commitment to Everett and Snohomish County.” He has been pushing for Everett to be home to the new ships.

Last year, the Navy awarded a contract to build the first new frigate, the USS Constellation (FFG 62), scheduled to be delivered in 2026. Larsen said the new ship is in the design phase. The dozen frigates would be deployed to Everett over about a decade, he said.

Naval Station Everett is no stranger to frigates. The USS Rodney M. Davis was the last frigate stationed in Everett and one of the last of the older version of frigates in the U.S. Navy. It was decommissioned in 2015, and its crew of more than 200 sailors was reassigned. The frigate was towed to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton and the plan was to sell it to a foreign navy. Those previous Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates entered service between 1977 and 1989. They were decommissioned between 1994 and 2015.

Naval Station Everett opened in April 1994. Three years later, the base welcomed its first aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln. Everett also once was the homeport of the USS Nimitz, but over the years both were reassigned.

Larsen said it is hard to know if the decision to base the new frigates here could lead to the return of larger ships to Naval Station Everett. It’s possible it could one day mean more military construction on the waterfront, including the replacement of antiquated piers on the north end of the waterway, he said.

The Navy has long been planning to replace the aging frigates with smaller, more maneuverable ones.

Constellation-class frigates will have improved capability to support the National Defense Strategy goal of achieving a resilient and agile force more quickly and affordably, Navy officials said Wednesday in a news release.

Naval Station Everett. (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)

Naval Station Everett. (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)

“This new class of frigate are designed to be agile, multi-mission warships, capable of operations in both blue-water and littoral environments, within a strike group or independently, to provide increased combat-credible forward presence,” according to the Navy.

In its news release, the Navy wrote: “The Navy’s Surface Force is the preeminent means available for our nation to protect its interests and sustain its prosperity around the globe. The Navy remains focused on building and deploying combat ready, battle-minded teams capable of carrying out their missions today and tomorrow, at home and abroad. Constellation-class frigates will help us do that and enable us to maintain our advantage at sea.”

Of the homeport in Everett, the Navy wrote: “As a shore installation, Naval Station Everett supports the fleet so that active and reserve military are ready to operate in the interest of national defense. The Navy plans to increase capabilities across the enterprise. For shore installations, that includes improvements that offer greater capacity for support to a growing number of Navy ships in the fleet.”

Larsen, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the announcement underscores the region’s military value.

“This is a long-term Navy effort to produce more and more agile surface ships, and I think it’s telling that the Northwest is going to be a homeport and that the Navy is choosing Naval Station Everett,” he said. “It shows the long-term commitment the Navy has to Everett.”

In 2019, Larsen released a report outlining why Naval Station Everett is the ideal location for future Navy and U.S. Coast Guard vessels.

Conceived as an aircraft carrier homeport, Naval Station Everett is now home to five Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyers — the USS Momsen, USS Kidd, USS Gridley, USS Sampson and USS Ralph Johnson. It’s also home to two Coast Guard ships — the cutters Henry Blake and Blue Shark. Last year, the Navy announced it will temporarily homeport the crews of the USS John Paul Jones, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, and the USS John S. McCain, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, later this year.

Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin called the Navy announcement “great news.”

“After years of advocating for growth at the base, I’m pleased to see these efforts come to fruition with the addition of these new ships,” she said. “Naval Station Everett is an important part of our community and I am thrilled to welcome the new fleet, its service members and families to Everett.”

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