Stealth-guided destroyer INS Visakhapatnam, submarine INS Vela: How Indian Navy's new commissions will help expand its footprint

The Indian Navy -- which had been long battling with an ageing fleet of over and underwater combat infrastructure -- is ready to come into i...

The Indian Navy -- which had been long battling with an ageing fleet of over and underwater combat infrastructure -- is ready to come into its own. In this month alone, the Indian Navy will commission Visakhapatnam -- the first stealth guided-missile destroyer ship of the Project 15B -- and Vela, the fourth submarine of Project-75. Then in December, the first ship of the Survey Vessel Large project, Sandhayak will be launched.

The Indian Navy's plan to become a 170-ship force is on track but some changes in the timelines for it are being made in view of certain delays, Vice Chief of the Naval Staff Vice Admiral Satish Namdeo Ghormade said on Tuesday.

The naval commander said guided-missile destroyer 'Visakhapatnam' and Kalvari-class submarine 'Vela' will be inducted into the Indian Navy by next week in a boost to its combat capability in the face of China's growing forays into the Indian Ocean region.

All in all, the navy has 39 vessels of various types under construction, including an aircraft carrier; destroyers; frigates; corvettes; and conventional-powered and nuclear-powered submarines and plans to build a strong navy of 170 vessels by 2027 but it is set to miss the deadline. At present, the Navy has around 130 ships.

Here is a curtain-raiser on these projects.

Visakhapatnam

The ship has been constructed using indigenous steel DMR 249A and is amongst the largest destroyers constructed in India with an overall length of 163m and displacement of over 7,400 tons.

Designed by the Indian Navy’s “in-house design organisation", the Directorate of Naval Design, and built by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd in Mumbai, it is an inheritor to Project 15 and Project 15A, which gave the Navy, respectively, the advanced Delhi and Kolkata class of destroyers.

Almost 75 percent of the ship's contents are indigenously made, including many major indigenous weapons such as Indigenous Medium Range Surface to Air Missile Systems by BEL, Bengaluru; Surface to Surface Missiles by Brahmos Aerospace; Torpedo Tubes and Launchers by L&T; and Gun Mount by BHEL.

The ship is a potent platform capable of undertaking multifarious tasks and missions spanning the full spectrum of maritime warfare. It has the latest stealth mechanisms built within, and also uses sophisticated radar systems to detect attackers and provide live target locations to the ship's gunner. The ship is equipped to fight under Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) warfare conditions.

The ship is propelled by four powerful gas turbines and is capable of achieving speeds in excess of 30 knots. The ship has the capability of embarking two integrated helicopters to further extend its reach. The ship boasts of a very high level of automation with sophisticated digital networks, Combat Management System and an Integrated Platform Management System.

It is scheduled to be commissioned into the Indian Navy by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at the Naval Dockyard, Mumbai on 21 November.

What is Project 15B?

Project 15B is an inheritor to Project 15 and Project 15A, which gave the Navy, respectively, the advanced Delhi and Kolkata class of destroyers.

The Navy is set to receive a total of four of the Visakhapatnam class of destroyers as part of Project 15B, the deal for which was signed in January 2011.

The Defence Ministry said the “project is a follow-on of the Kolkata class (Project 15A) destroyers commissioned in the last decade" and the four ships are to be named after four major cities in the four corners of the country. Thus, apart from Visakhapatnam, the Navy will be inducting the Mormugao, Imphal and Surat, all reportedly over the next few years.

All the ships of this class are 163 metres long with a full load displacement of 7,400 tonnes and a maximum speed of 30 knots (over 55kmph).

Visakhapatnam is the first in the series, and also the lead ship of the Project 15B stealth guided missile destroyers. Reports say that the cumulative cost of building the four destroyers stands at over Rs 35,000 crore.

Vela

INS Vela is is the fourth submarine of the first batch of six Kalvari-class submarines for the Indian Navy.

It is a diesel attack submarine, which is designed to act as a sea denial as well as access denial warfare to the adversary.

It is capable of offensive operations across the entire spectrum of naval warfare including anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering, mine laying and area surveillance.

It has a length of 67.5 m (221 ft), height of 12.3 m (40 ft), an overall beam of 6.2 m (20 ft) and a draught of 5.8 m (19 ft). It can reach a top speed of 20 kn (37 km/h) when submerged and a maximum speed of 11 knots (20 km/h) when surfaced.

is powered by four MTU 12V 396 SE84 diesel engines, has 360 battery cells (750 kg each), for power and has a silent Permanently Magnetised Propulsion Motor. The hull, fin and hydroplanes are designed for minimum underwater resistance and all equipment inside the pressure hull is mounted on shock-absorbing cradles for enhanced stealth.

Designed on the Scorpene-class, the Exocet missile-carrying submarine may be fitted with DRDO designed air-independent propulsion technology at a later stage as part of its mid-life refit.

The submarine has been slotted to join the Submarine fleet of the Western Naval Command.

Vela is the fourth Submarine of the Kalvari-class vessels in various phases of construction and induction, and has completed most of its trials and is combat worthy and ready to take on operational tasking.

What is Project-75

The project, first envisioned under IK Gujaral's government, has run in to several troubles in its lifecycle before some if its submarines say the light of the day.

The Indian Ministry of Defence approved a plan to acquire 24 submarines under Project 75 in 1997. In 1998, India began negotiating with DCN for four Scorpène submarines with two to be built in Mazagon Dock Limited from knocked-down kits. After the Kargil War in 1999, Cabinet Committee on Security approved a 30-year submarine building plan that called for two parallel production lines, each constructing six submarines but the construction could not start. Later, the older Project 75 was brought under the new plan, with the two production lines to be built under Project 75 and Project 75I using the transfer of technology from different foreign manufacturers.  The negotiations were subsequently expanded to include Armaris, a joint venture of DCN and Thales, for six submarines to be built in Mazagon Dock Limited contracts for which were finally signed on 6 October 2005.  The entire programme was valued at €2.4 billion and the submarines were to be delivered over five years starting from 2012.

Steel cutting for the first submarine began on 14 December 2006 and hull construction was started on 23 May 2007. The delay has been attributed to slow finalisation of contracts for the procurement of sensors and propulsion system components by Mazagon Dock Limited and DCNS.

Today, a total of six submarines are in various stages of the cycle under Project-75. With the commissioning of Vela, the project would have crossed the halfway mark. The submarines are designed by French naval defence and energy company DCNS and are being manufactured by Mazagon Dock Limited in Mumbai.

The other vessels in the class are INS Kalvari, INS Khanderi, INS Karanj, INS Vagir and INS Vagsheer. Of these Kalvari and Khanderi have been commissioned in 2017 and 2019, Karanj is undergoing sea trials, Vagir has now been launched and Vagsheer is under construction.

The class and submarine take their names from the first submarines inducted into the Indian Navy. The now-decommissioned Kalvari and Vela classes were one of the earliest of the submarines in the post-Independence Indian Navy, which belonged to Soviet origin Foxtrot class of vessels.

Sandhyak

Sandhyak’ is the first of the four Survey Vessels (Large) (SVL) Project being built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE), Kolkata for Indian Navy. The contract for building four SVL ships was signed between MoD and GRSE on 30 October 2018. These large Survey ships envisaged to replace the existing Sandhayak Class survey ships are equipped with new generation hydrographic equipment including AUVs, ROVs, 11m survey boats and advanced indigenous data acquisition systems to collect and analyze for collecting oceanographic and geophysical data in the Indian Ocean Region.

The curtain raiser for the Commissioning ceremony and the launch was held on 16 November 21 by Vice Admiral SN Ghormade, the Vice Chief of Naval Staff (VCNS). Speaking on the occasion, the VCNS stated that the event highlights the capability and capacity of, not just the Indian Navy but also of MDL, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and MSMEs in realizing the National Objectives of “Make in India” and “AtmaNirbhar Bharat”.

On the occasion, VCNS also brought out that presently, 39 Naval ships and submarines are being constructed in various shipyards. This in turn has created enormous opportunities for not only the indigenous shipbuilding industry but also the associated support industries.

VCNS also brought out that the commissioning ceremony, also coincides with the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ and ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh’ celebrations, and the induction of INS Visakhapatnam and INS Vela, is thus not only another step towards strengthening our defence preparedness but also our humble tribute to the sacrifices made by our freedom fighters for the independence of the nation and our brave soldiers during the 1971 war.

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India World News: Stealth-guided destroyer INS Visakhapatnam, submarine INS Vela: How Indian Navy's new commissions will help expand its footprint
Stealth-guided destroyer INS Visakhapatnam, submarine INS Vela: How Indian Navy's new commissions will help expand its footprint
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