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Strict adherence to indigenisation norm delays production of anti-sub warfare ships

Strict adherence to high indigenisation of content has delayed the production of the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Corvettes built by defence shipyard Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE). As the fourth ASW Corvette, christened ‘Kavaratti’, readies to be commissioned into the Indian Navy this year, officials maintain producing the warships has helped buoy India's potential to become a significant exporter of naval vessels.

GRSE is building four ASW Corvette Class of ships under the P-28 project. The first two ships of the series, INS Kamorta and INS Kadmatt, were delivered in 2014 and 2015, respectively. The third, INS Kiltan was formally handed over to the Indian Navy in October 2017. The fourth, slated to be commissioned at the end of 2017, has been delayed but will soon join the ranks.

“The aim is to build cutting edge warships and, simultaneously, develop the Indian warship building industry,” said a senior GRSE official, seeking anonymity.


To grow fleet ::

The government has planned to grow the country's shipping fleet four-fold from 10.3 million tonnes to 43 million tonnes by 2019, and is looking to achieve a target of 5 per cent share of the global shipbuilding market by 2020, said the official, adding warship building contributes to about 90 per cent of GRSE's revenues.

Indigenous capability in the development and manufacturing of the warships and its weapons is an important step towards self reliance, pointed out officials, adding that though India has a largely indigenously built navy and coast guard, its exports have been limited.

“Four of the corvettes under P-28 were scheduled to enter service by 2017. These are Kamorta Class ASW corvettes, which succeed the Kora-Class guided-missile corvettes that are in service with the Indian Navy. The P-28 corvettes are to serve as the frontline warships and though its primary task will be ASW, the vessels will also be deployed in anti-surface warfare and anti-air warfare,” said another official.


Design modifications ::

GRSE was issued letter of intent for the project in 2003, but major modifications in design of the ships continued till 2008. The first corvette was delivered to the Navy in July 2014 and second one in November 2015. According to the contract, the third corvette was to have been delivered in July 2014, and the fourth in April 2015.

Alluding to the delay, experts point out that the Navy is determined to nurture an Indian supplier base to develop increasingly high-tech products for warships. Special grade high-tensile steel, developed by the Indian Navy and the DRDO, and produced by the Steel Authority of India adorns the warships.

The ASW Corvettes incorporate new design concepts for improved survivability, stealth and manoeuvrability. While the basic design for these ships was developed by the Indian Navy’s Directorate of Naval Design, the detailed design was made by the in-house design department of GRSE, Kolkata. The weapon intensive ASW Corvette is fitted with a very large number of indigenous weapons and sensors, including a medium-range gun, torpedo tube launchers and rocket launchers, among others.

An indigenous rocket launcher, torpedo tube launcher and a foldable hangar door by L&T, as well as an indigenous surveillance radar and ASW fire control system by Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) are some of its hallmarks..

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