‘Himgiri’, the first of the three Project 17A ships being built at M/s Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited (GRSE), Kolkata was launched today, 14 December 2020. She made her first contact with the waters of Hoogly River at 1335 Hrs. at the launch ceremony, General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) was the Chief Guest. In keeping with Naval traditions Smt Madhulika Rawat, spouse of CDS launched the ship to the chanting of invocations from the Atharva Veda. The ship has taken its name and crest of the second Frigate of the Leander Class of ships, which incidentally was launched 50 years ago in 1970.
Under the Project 17A program, a total of seven ships, four at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) and three ships at GRSE are being built with enhanced stealth features, advanced indigenous weapon and sensor fit along with several other improvements. The launch of ‘Himgiri’ has showcased GRSE’s commitment towards the building of three state-of-the-art warships of P17A for Indian Navy. Over the years, GRSE has emerged as a leading shipyard having built over 100 ships. The yard has scaled up its infrastructure and skill set to meet new challenges in building of P17A ships. P17A ships are the first gas turbine propulsion and largest combat platforms ever built at GRSE.
Since its inception, Project 17A has upheld India’s vision for Atmanirbhar Bharat. P17A ships have been indigenously designed by Directorate of Naval Design (Surface Ship Design Group) – DND(SSG), and are being built at indigenous yards namely MDL and GRSE. Naval shipbuilding provides a great opportunity to energise our economy post COVID-19. Project 17A ships are sourcing 80% of the material/ equipment required for the project from indigenous vendors and with employment generation for over 2000 Indian firms and MSMEs within the country. Modular construction of the ship through outsourcing, and integrated construction methodology are being used to enhance GRSE’s productivity for delivery of ship targeted in August 2023.
On November 12th 2020, INS Vagir (S25) was launched by Smt Vijaya Shripad Naik, wife of Shri Shripad Naik, Hon’ble Raksha Rajya Mantri. INS Vagir (S25) is the fifth P75 Scorpene submarine entirely built by the Indian shipyard Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) based on years of technology transfer and partnership with Naval Group.
After recent commissioning of INS Khanderi (S22) in September 2019 and the launch of the INS Vela (S24) in May 2019, the INS Vagir (S25), the fifth of the series of six Kalvari-class submarines ordered by India in 2005, to be launched.
This event highlights the success of the indigenous submarines construction program of the Government of India. These submarines have been completely built by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) through a transfer of technology from Naval Group, in line with Indian Government’s «Make in India» policy. This series of six submarines are fitted with a number of equipment, built in India by qualified and highly trained industrial Micro, Small and Medium enterprises (MSMEs) which form the sound base of the Indian submarine building ecosystem.
«Naval Group is proud to be part of first of its kind P75 Kalvari program to deliver entirely «Made in India» submarines to the Indian Navy. The P75 program is a major element of the strategic Indo-French partnership developed over the last decades. This launch, amidst Covid-19 challenges, represents a new milestone for this unique industrial program and illustrates the Aatmanirbharta (self-reliance) of Indian Navy and industry», mentioned Alain Guillou, Senior EVP – International Development at Naval Group.
The Scorpene is a conventional-propulsion submarine designed and developed by Naval Group for all types of mission, such as surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, long-range strikes, special operations or intelligence gathering. Extremely stealthy and fast, its level of operating automation allows for a limited crew which reduces its operating costs significantly. Its combat edge is highlighted by the fact that it has 6 weapon launching tubes and 18 weapons (torpedoes, missiles, mines).
With 14 submarines sold internationally by Naval Group, the Scorpene is an essential reference product in the area of conventional attack submarines (SSK) for Navies across the world. The Scorpene can be adapted to meet special needs of international navies.
Naval Group is present in India through its 100% subsidiary Naval Group India. Established in September 2008, Naval Group India’s mission has been to support the indigenisation of equipment for Scorpene submarine, to develop the Indian defence eco-system, as well as to develop design services in India with talented Indian engineers.
Naval Group India endeavours to be a visionary and to further its involvement in empowering more industries by creating a robust eco-system that can cater to the varied defence needs of the country.
On September 28, 2019, Raksha Mantri [Defence Minister] Shri Rajnath Singh said the Government is making concerted efforts to modernise the Navy and equip it with the best platforms, weapons and sensors to deal with any conventional and unconventional threats to India’s maritime interests.
Shri Rajnath Singh was speaking at the launch of INS Nilgiri, the first of the Navy’s seven new stealth frigates, at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited in Mumbai. He said, 70% of India’s trade by value and 95% by volume is taking place through the sea route and even a slight disruption of seaborne trade due to piracy, terrorism or conflict, could have serious repercussions on the economic growth and well-being of the nation.
Raksha Mantri said, India is growing and its commercial interests are spreading far and beyond, yet there are challenges, including a hostile neighbourhood. «State-sponsored terrorism remains a challenge and the strong-willed Government will not hesitate to take tough decisions in the larger interest of the country. The repealing of the provisions under article 370 of the constitution is one such decision. We are confident that this will usher a new era of development and prosperity in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh», Raksha Mantri added.
Saying that «any credible defence of a country is based on the indigenous defence capability», Shri Rajnath Singh emphasised on «Make in India» and «Design and Make in India» with regard to defence equipment.
Raksha Mantri highlighted that Directorate of Naval Design has designed over 19 classes of ships to which more than 90 ships have been built since then. He said, today India belongs to an elite group of nations which is building its own Aircraft Carrier and Strategic Submarines. «Out of total 51 ships and submarines on order at various shipyards as on date, 49 are being constructed indigenously. This contributes to our target of building a five trillion-dollar economy by 2025 and 70% defence indigenisation by 2027», he said.
«A vibrant shipbuilding industry can play a major role in the overall economic development of the country», Raksha Mantri said adding that shipbuilding is a labour intensive industry with tremendous potential for employment generation, not only in its own sector, but also in various upstream and downstream industries. He noted that construction of one frigate itself provides direct employment to 4,800 personnel and indirect employment to around 27,000 personnel for a period of 8 years. Almost 87% of the total warship cost is invested in the Indian economy which significantly contributes to nation building.
Raksha Mantri said, the Indian Ocean region is the epicentre of activity and the entire world sees Indian Navy as a Net Security Provider. He said, with growing stature of India in geo-political and geo-strategic dimension and increasing reliance of neighbors on us, it is the Navy’s responsibility to provide credible security and peaceful and prosperous sea routes.
Shri Rajnath Singh added that, «while the Navy is continuously evolving to meet emerging challenges to India’s maritime interests by means of state-of-the-art platforms and infrastructure, the core strength of our forces remains our men and women».
Raksha Mantri expressed confidence that Nilgiri and the other six ships of the Project will proudly fly the Indian Flag across the oceans, showcasing India’s shipbuilding prowess and would spread India’s message of peace and strength across the globe. He appreciated the work done by the workforce of the shipyard, saying that the ship is not just metal and paint, it is a story of hard work, sweat and perseverance of the men and women involved with the project.
INS Nilgiri is the first ship of Project 17A. Project 17A frigates is a design derivative of the Shivalik class stealth frigates with much more advanced stealth features and indigenous weapons and sensors. These frigates are being built using integrated construction methodology. The P17A frigates incorporate new design concepts for improved survivability, sea keeping, stealth and ship manoeuvrability.
Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh also commissioned the largest dry dock of Indian Navy – The Aircraft Carrier Dock at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai. He termed it as an «edifice of modern India».
Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) called «Ship Builder to the Nation», is one of India’s leading Defence public sector undertaking shipyards under the Ministry of Defence continuing their service to the nation with «Make in India» programme. They delivered the second Scorpene submarine «KHANDERI» to the Indian Navy at an event held in Mumbai on 19 September 2019. The Acceptance Document was signed by Cmde Rakesh Anand, Chairman & Managing Director, MDL and RAdm B Sivakumar, Chief of Staff Officer (Tech), Western Naval Command in the presence of MDL Directors and Navy personnel at MDL. The submarine would soon be commissioned into the Indian Navy. It is a milestone event for MDL.
The submarine «KHANDERI» is named after the wide snouted Saw fish, a deadly sea predator of the great Indian Ocean. The first Submarine Khanderi was commissioned into the Indian Navy on 6th December 1968 and decommissioned on 18th October 1989 after more than 20 years of yeoman service to the nation. In true nautical tradition, she will now be «reincarnated» by MDL to guard the vast maritime area of our nation.
Building of the Scorpene was indeed a challenge for MDL, as the complexity of the simplest of tasks increased exponentially due to all work having to be done in the most congested of spaces. This complexity was further aggravated by the stringent tolerances required to be achieved. However, all of these challenges were accepted head-on and successfully overcome by MDL, without any compromise in quality whatsoever.
The technology utilised in the Scorpene has ensured superior features of the submarine.
The Scorpene class of submarines can undertake multifarious tasks typically undertaken by any modern submarine which include anti-surface as well as antisubmarine warfare.
With the delivery of INS Khanderi (S22), India further cements its position as a submarine building nation and MDL has lived up to its reputation as one of the India’s leading shipyards with a capacity to meet requirements of the Indian Navy by the «Indian commercial and warship building and ship repairing industry report» released in Mumbai during March, 2018 by CRISIL.
The constructions of third Scorpene at MDL, INS Karanj (S23), was started on 31st January 2018, and is currently undergoing the rigorous phase of sea trials. The fourth Scorpene, INS Vela (S24) was recently launched in May 2019, and is being prepared for sea trials, whilst the remaining two submarines, INS Vagir (S25) and INS Vagsheer (S26), are in various stages of outfitting. The Scorpene project would not have been achieved up to the current progress without the unconditional support and active encouragement of the Department of Defence Production (MoD).
It is also pertinent to mention that the two SSK submarines built by MDL in 1992 and 1994 are still serving Indian Navy, after more than 25 years. This is testimony to our skill and capability of MDL. Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited also achieved expertise in submarine refits by successfully executing the medium refit-cum-upgradation of all the four SSK class submarines of the Indian Navy. It is presently carrying out the medium refit and Life Certification of INS Shishumar, the first SSK submarine.
MDL has always been in the forefront of the nation’s progressive indigenous warship building programme. In fact, with the construction of the Leander and Godavari class frigates, Khukri class Corvettes, Missile Boats, Delhi and Kolkata class Destroyers, Shivalik class Stealth Frigates, the SSK submarines and the first Scorpene submarine under its belt, the history of modern-day MDL almost maps the history of indigenous warship building in India.
MDL’s contribution to national security and nation building continues with the P-15B Visakhapatnam class Destroyers and the P-17A class Stealth Frigates.
Recognising the challenges of the future well in time, MDL has completed an extensive modernisation programme, at the end of which, today it is building eight Warships, six Submarines, in its yard, which have four drydocks, three slipways, two Wet Basins and more than sixty thousand square metres of work shop area.
Leveraging the experience, the transfer-of-technology of the Scorpene project, and with its enhanced and upgraded infrastructure, MDL is ready for undertaking construction of future submarines projects.