If we desire to secure peace,” President George Washington once observed, “it must be known that we are at all times ready for war.” During the late 1790s, the U.S. government commissioned naval engineers and shipbuilders to design and build large warships capable of agile maneuvering and stowing an excess amount of weapons.

With the passing of the Naval Act of 1794, Washington secured the authorization to procure the Navy’s first six frigates – a wooden-hulled, three-masted warship with either a 38 or 44-gun capability. One of these vessels, the Constellation, launched in 1797, cementing its place in the Navy’s distinguished history.

The ingenuity and progressive mindsets of those early naval engineers and shipbuilders provided the necessary framework that impacted this era of shipbuilding. As a result of incorporating this architecture framework to build the warships, the U.S. Navy established its dominance on the open seas, protecting American merchant vessels and defending against attacks.

Since then, Navy surface warships evolved with the technological development of warfare systems, including software capabilities and products. In a similar way of those early naval shipbuilders, the workforce at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) is building the framework in developing innovative combat systems and integration essential to the fleet.

In April 2020, the Department of the Navy (DoN) announced the intent to build and deploy the next generation of the Constellation Class guided missile frigates (FFG).

A team of scientists and engineers at NSWCDD are helping lead the effort in developing the Frigate Architecture Framework (FAF) – a cybersecurity framework composed of products, policies and methodologies joined to form a resilient compliant network architecture. The FAF provides the blueprints to integrate proven combat system products with modern cybersecurity best practices for the FFG 62 Constellation Class frigates.

The NSWCDD team draws personnel from across Dahlgren as well as collaborates with other organizations within the Department of Defense and the DoN, including warfare center divisions across the Naval Sea Systems Command and industry partners.

“We maintain constant communication, meeting with multiple teams regularly, where all combat system representatives discuss and work out the details of integration for each of the elements and to stay on track,” stated Christopher Cho, an FFG system engineer from the Surface Navy Combatants Engineering and Integration Branch at NSWCDD.

The NSWCDD team guides system product development, driving engineering decisions that align with the new architecture construct.

“We are working with each of the combat system elements and working out all the details that are required in order to be able to integrate this successfully into a working effective combat system,” said Cho.

In the coming year, Cho and Wagner will continue to support FAF efforts with the mission to implement Dahlgren-developed architecture products and processes to drive integration decisions across the combat system and platform.

By 2026, the DoN is scheduled to take delivery of the first of the new FFG 62 Constellation Class combatant ships.

A replica of the original Constellation frigate is harbored in Baltimore, Maryland and considered a beloved state-wide tourist attraction.