With commissioning of the new INS KALVARI the Indian Navy has once again started its long journey in building up its Silent Arm…the Submarine Force , a very important force multiplier . Nearly half of the 14 conventional submarines are are between 31 years and 25 years old and out of the other seven, three have undergone medium refits and balance 04 are awaiting their turn. Hopefully by the time the older 05 Kilos and 02 HDW retire, we should have five more Scorpions but then total numbers will be down to just 12 conventional submarines.
The above is naturally alarming as Chinese submarines have started prowling into the Indian Ocean and into the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. During the last few years, as per reports they have entered Indian waters no less than six times. So there is need to move on this front at a faster speed.48 Years back, I had climbed down the hatch of the first INS kalvari with Commander Satish Kumar Singh, as a school kid. Today as I see it we need a total of 48 conventional Submarines organised into four Squadrons, one Squadron each for Western, Eastern and Southern Naval Command and one Squadron for Andaman Command. Therefore without wasting any time Mazgaon should be given orders for six more Scorpions.
We have been negotiating with the Russians for the follow on to the wonderful Kilos. The deal needs to be finalized at once for 12 of them out of which at least six must be MAKE IN INDIA, at RELIANCE DEFENCE at Pipavav. Thus with these two types of incoming conventional AIP armed submarines, we will have a breather and it will give time to Mazgaon Dock yards to set up a second line for construction of purely indigenous submarines. By 2035 time frame we should be having the required number of 48.
Now we come to the Nuclear Submarines. AIP fitted conventional submarines are ideal for the brown waters of the sub continental sea shelf. However we need a set of nuclear powered submarines for our nuclear ballistic missiles for second strike capability, and another set of nuclear powered submarines for patrolling and hunting the seas for the enemy submarines and surface fleet. For the ballistic missiles we already have ARIHANT and two more in the pipe line. We need to construct another nine of them, bigger in size to carry the submarine launched ICBMs. The construction works at Vizag needs to be streamlined, design perfected so that by 2035 we have all 12 fully deployed.
Presently we are only looking at our brown water, though after completion of Chabahar and later Gwadar, activity in the seas around will be high. Around that time we will have to be ready to assist our friend Vietnam, Singapore and others in many fields and therefore we need to have enough Nuclear Powered submarines or SSGNs in hunter and killer role. Total desired number will be 24, again organised into four Squadrons of 06 each. The Cabinet has already given sanction for six. Now work must begin with Hindustan Shipyard and L&T collaborating to the hilt.
Of course till we have our own in numbers, we should look at adding three more SSGNs on lease from Russia to the INS CHAKRA we are already operating. Goa Shipyard should too get into action and commence ground work for construction of Torpedo Recovery Vessels, Submarine Tenders. Hopefully RESCUE VESSELS too will take their place in the line-up of the underwater sentinels,
is making badly needs nuclear submarines to bolster its strength underwater as well as replace ailing fleet, it is not finding any builders to take up the project. It should be recalled that the Union government announced that six nuclear submarines would be built, following clearance given by the Cabinet committee on security.
The project was estimated to cost Rs 50,000 crore and would have given a boost to the ailing shipyard. The submarines were to be designed by navy’s Directorate of Naval Design. Even the state-owned Hindustan Shipyard said that it will not build nuclear submarine in its yard. “We will not build any nuclear submarine for the Indian Navy,” said chairman and managing director of Hindustan Shipyard Limited Rear Admiral (retired) LV Sharatbabu.
He refused to elaborate further. Even Reliance Defence and Engineering is not coming forward to develop its shipyard at Rambilli village in the district, though the company had signed a MoU with the state government during partnership summit here in 2016.It should be noted that the Reliance Defence and Engineering has proposed to build nuclear submarines and much needed aircraft carriers for the Indian Navy in association with Russian companies.
“They are yet to come forward to take up the project. The government has already issued a GO paving the way for allotment of land,” said general manager of District Industries Centre A Ramalingewara Rao. Indian Navy has 13 conventional submarines and two nuclear powered submarines-INS Chakra taken on lease from Russia in 2012 and INS Arihant which was de-commissioned quietly in October last year.
Defence sources said half of the conventional submarines are aged and ready for medium refit. Indian Navy badly needs more submarines to counter the presence of Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean. Chinese submarines came close to Indian waters six times during the last few years.
Colonel Awadhesh Kumar, Veteran