WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy announced Friday that Lockheed Martin was awarded a $1.96 billion contract to build four multimission surface combatants for Saudi Arabia.

The ships, which are slated to be built at Fincantieri’s Marinette Marine shipyard in Wisconsin, are derived from the Freedom-class littoral combat ship design.

The contract announcement was posted on the U.S. Defense Department’s website Friday night.

“The awarded contract includes associated cost-plus-fixed-fee class design and related material and firm-fixed-price integrated data environment,” the announcement said.

The contract was awarded as part of the U.S. Navy’s Foreign Military Sales program. It follows a 2018 contract worth $450 million for design and long-lead time materials for the frigates.

Capt. Danny Hernandez, spokesman for the Navy’s head of research, development and acquisition, said deliveries of the MMSC should begin in June 2023.

Selling the MMSC to the Saudis will be a net positive for the Navy and should have minimal impact on Marinette’s LCS production, Hernandez said.

“The FMS purchase of four MMSC ships by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will provide additional workload and further stability within the US Navy shipbuilding industrial base,” Hernandez said. “The MMSC ships will be produced at Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, WI; the same shipyard that currently constructs the Freedom variant ships of the U.S. Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Class.”

David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.

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