The First ship of Project – 15B, Guided Missile Destroyer, christened «Visakhapatnam» was launched on 20 Apr 15 at a magnificent ceremony at Mazagaon Dock Limited (MDL), Mumbai. The ship was launched from Slip Way No. 2 in MDL. The Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral RK Dhowan, was the Chief Guest for the occasion. In keeping with the nautical traditions, the ship was launched by Smt Minu Dhowan, wife of The Chief of the Naval Staff. After an invocation to the Gods was recited, she broke a coconut on ship’s bow, named the ship and wished the ship and «crew to be», good luck.
Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Guest, Admiral RK Dhowan lauded the contributions made by MDL in meeting the growing requirements of the Navy. He also commended the efforts put in by Director General Naval Design (DGND) and his team in the design of the state of the art warships. He was also appreciative of the role played by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the industry for relentlessly contributing towards achieving Indian Navy’s dream of transforming itself from a «Buyers Navy» to a «Builders Navy».
The four ships of Project 15B ships being built at MDL, Mumbai have been designed indigenously by the Directorate of Naval Design, Delhi and bear testimony to the acclaimed legacy of Naval designers. With a displacement of 7300 tons, each ship will be spanning 163 meters/535 feet in length and 17.4 meters/57 feet at the beam and will be propelled by four gas turbines to achieve speed in excess of 30 knots/34 mph/55 km/h. The Project 15B destroyers incorporate new design concepts for improved survivability, sea keeping, stealth and maneuverability. Enhanced stealth features have been achieved through shaping of hull and use of radar transparent deck fittings which make these ships difficult to detect. These ships will be equipped to carry and operate two multiple role helicopters.
These ships are also packed with an array of state of the art weapons and sensors, including vertically launched missile system for long distance engagement of shore and sea-based targets. With significant indigenous content, these ships are a true hallmark of self-reliance attained by India in warship design and shipbuilding.
According to Rahul Bedi, Jane’s Navy International correspondent, Vishakhapatnam would be commissioned in July 2018 and delivery of the three follow-on platforms at two year intervals will be completed by 2024 at an overall cost of INR293.40 billion ($4.89 billion).
The IN officials claims that over 65% of the 164 m-long Vishakhapatnam is indigenously sourced, including its DMR249 A steel and 11 of its weapon and associated sensor systems. Its imported components include four Ukrainian-built Zorya-Mashproekt DT-59 gas turbines.
Vishakhapatnam would be fitted with the IAI-Elta-designed EL/M-2248 Multi-Function Surveillance Threat Alert Radar (MF-STAR) to provide guidance to 32 Barak-8/NG air-defence missiles, which have a 70 km/43.5 miles range. IN officials claim that MF-STAR is capable of simultaneously tracking multiple seaborne targets up to a distance of 25 km/15.5 miles and fighter aircraft up to 250 km/155 miles away.
Vishakhapatnam’s principal weapon will be eight BrahMos anti-ship cruise missiles. The ship’s anti-submarine warfare capability includes twin-tube launchers and RBU-6000 SMERCH-2 rocket launchers built by private defence contractor Larsen & Toubro (L&T). Other armaments include a licence-built 76-mm OTO Melara Super Rapid Gun, and a 127-mm main gun, which is still under negotiation.