India and the United Kingdom are discussing the British side’s offer to supply advanced electrical propulsion systems for warships at a meeting on Friday that coincides with a visit by Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and UK chief of defence staff General Nicholas Carter.
As the country prepares for this meeting, let’s understand what these systems are and how they would boost the Indian Navy.
How does an electrical propulsion system help for warships?
Marine propulsion systems move ships through the water and ensure a better safety standard for the marine ecosystem and are cost-efficient.
In very simple words, electric propulsion systems utilise electrical power to drive propeller blades for propulsion.
The UK is the leader in these propulsion systems and they are currently being used in the Type 23 frigate and Type 45 destroyer. It is also used in the HMS Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s largest warship.
Experts believe that there are several benefits of electrical propulsion systems. First off, the space required for installation of electrical propulsion machinery is very less and compact as compared to the conventional systems. It also provides improved manoeuvrability and high redundancy.
Ships that use this technology are also more ‘green’ — owing to lower fuel consumption and emissions. The technology is also beneficial as it aids in reducing the life cycle cost by less fuel consumption and maintenance cost. Ships that use this technology also display high performance in harsh ice conditions due to maximum torque at zero speed.
Why it is a boost to Indian Navy
India has shown keen interest in this technology and UK-based Rolls-Royce has expressed keenness to explore opportunities for sharing end-to-end solutions for the electrification of the Indian Navy’s future warships.
In fact, the company is all set to showcase to Indian Navy customers its capabilities to design, build and deliver customised power and propulsion solutions for India's naval modernisation requirements as part of the UK's upcoming Carrier Strike Group tour, PTI reported.
In that report, Rolls-Royce President-India and South Asia, Kishore Jayaraman said, "As India plans the fleet of the future, our commitment to support the country’s self-reliance goals and defence modernisation remains as strong as ever.”
“With our experience of supporting the electrification of the Royal Navy’s warships over years, is of special significance. This also includes the design and deployment of the world’s first hybrid-electric naval system. And, we believe that Rolls Royce can bring great value and learning to any future programme being planned by the Indian Navy for developing electric warships,” Kishore Jayaraman, President, Rolls Royce added.
What the disadvantages of the propulsion system are
However, as with all technology, there are certain drawbacks to using electrical propulsion systems.
The cost of installing this technology is significantly higher, making the ships themselves more expensive. Additionally, the efficiency of the electrical plant is less than that of a conventional system.
To employ this technology, the Indian Navy will also have to train its crew, as the system is completely different from the mechanical system. This implies more expenditure for the Indian Navy.
However, if one compares the pros to the cons, electric propulsion seems to be an overall better bet and will pay off in the later stages, which is why India should move towards this goal sooner rather than later.
With inputs from agencies