Since the era, where imported equipment were being acknowledged and appreciated, the Indian Navy made its own decision to stand with its Indian partners. The amount of indigenization the Navy has been able to achieve is phenomenal. It is even difficult to compare the time that other forces might need to adapt the level of indigenization the Navy has adapted. With will of fire, the Navy has made the entire world to look India as the ship-building specialists…
Indian Navy, the fifth largest in the world, is one of the most formidable naval powers. Under its command, there is a hybrid mix of surface and under-water combatants. Augmenting the capabilities of these vessels is the ‘naval aviation wing’. These assets are collectively propelling the Indian Navy towards attaining the much decisive blue water capability.
With the responsibility of guarding India’s vast coastline and far-flung maritime interests, the requirements of the Navy are inexhaustive. As tensions rake up in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), the Navy has a steady demand for state-of-the-art battleships, deadly silent submarines, surveillance aircraft, sea skimming missiles, radars and what not.
The propelling power at the heart of India Navy’s progressive vision is the ‘Make in India’ initiative. For decades, the Indian Navy has been a staunch supporter of Indian made products. The force has inducted and operated Indian developed vessels, submarines and aircraft in a show of confidence in developmental agencies. Every ship that floats out of the shipyard features more indigenous content than its predecessor and has always been an improvement over the previous ship.
Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), speaking about the Navy’s tryst with Make in India said “The Navy has focused on indigenisation right from the beginning. We’ve been building ships in India over the decades and over 200 ships have been built in India till date. At the moment, 46 ships and submarines under construction are all being built in Indian shipyards. We’ve worked closely with DRDO and other private sector Indian industries to ensure even our weapons and sensors are also built with-in India”
Giving a deeper insight into the Make in India odyssey CNS said “The ship primarily consists of three segments; afloat, to move and to fight. In the float component i.e., the skeel and all it is 100% built in India. In the move component, which includes the engines and other things it’s about 65%. And in the weapon and fight component its now 40%”
Admiral Lanba also lauded the efforts of country’s shipyards and developmental agencies. Lanba said “Our latest class of Kamorta-class ships that have been built by Garden Reach Shipyards are over 90% indigenous. We’re focused and committed to the Make in India project”. It is this very ship that was in competition with the other platforms to enter service with the Philippines Navy as a frigate.
For a maritime nation like India, a formidable Navy is the need of the hour. Even though the Navy operates around 145 frontline battleships, they fall well short of keeping a privy eye over India’s far flung maritime interests. The Navy plans to eventually boost this number to around 200 by 2025. The Navy currently has on order over 40 front-line battleships and submarines all of which are being constructed in local shipyards.
Over the years state-run shipyards – Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL), MDSL, GRSE and GSL (Goa Shipyard Limited) – have emerged as the lone suppliers to the Navy. These entities working closely with Navy have provided India with a formidable regional naval might. Navy, shipyards, DRDO and the private sector working collectively have mastered the art of building world-class vessels.
For realizing complex technologies, the Navy has maintained a close relationship with the developmental agencies. This has promised to keep the Navy combat ready. Design, development and deployment of any platform needs unmatched interaction and understanding between developmental agencies and the end user. The working relationship the Navy has been able to build with DRDO and the private sector is unique. This relationship has been successful in cutting down the import rates to a great extent. Self-reliance is being slowly attained. Manufacturing, maintenance and service are the key components for a battle-ready flotilla has been achieved.
Recently inducted Kolkata-class destroyers, Shivalik-class frigates and Kamorta-class corvettes stand testimony to the country’s technological progress. Navy’s first tryst with Indian made products began when it commissioned INS Godavari – the first indigenously designed and built vessel. Godavari, a guided-missile frigate, was commissioned on 10th December 1983 and was built by MDL (Mazagon Docks Shipbuilders Limited), Mumbai. The technical know-how gained, under the project, served as a stepping stone in India’s self-reliance mission. The nation has made drastic progress and today boosts of a mature shipbuilding environment.
India is among a select few nations which have mastered the skills to construct nuclear and conventional submarines. India achieved a major benchmark when MDL in 1992 dedicated INS Shalki – a Shishumar-class conventional submarine. MDL, itself, is now involved in the construction of Scorpene submarines that have been designed by Naval Group.
HSL has successfully completed the construction of INS Arihant- the country’s first nuclear missile submarine. Arihant is believed to have cleared all trials and is said to be awaiting formal induction. The submarine once inducted will complete the nuclear triad of the nation.
Almost 45 vessels are in various stages of construction across the country. INS Vikrant, a 45000 tonne aircraft carrier being built by CSL remains to be the biggest ship to be ever built by an Indian shipyard. HSL is involved in the construction of submarines being built under the ATV project. At least three more SSBN’s are slated to complement INS Arihant.
The Navy’s raising demands for surface combatants is being effectively answered by MDL and GRSE. These shipyards are involved in the construction of vessels being built under Project – 15A, 15B, 17A and Project 28. Collectively these vessels will form a major chunk of Indian Navy’s future strike and defensive power. The vessels will also provide the Navy staunch control over the lucrative IOR.
DRDO remains to be a key provider of technology for the Navy. It is complemented by the private sector which has maintained unmatched synergy with the Navy. Complex technologies like combat and weapons management system, hulls for ships and submarines and offensive and defensive weaponry systems are all being sourced from within the country. The indigenisation factor has swelled in healthy manner overtime.
India with its mature shipbuilding capability, today, stands to make the most out of the increasing global demands. The nation is already being projected as a hub of shipbuilding in the contested Asia-Pacific region. This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Navy which has throughout supported Indian made products.
The Navy has to be commended for relaying and trusting Indian products. This has provided India with a formidable naval power at the shortest possible time frame and at a minimal cost. The future for Indian Navy and shipyards looks bright as India fast progresses towards attaining a global power status.