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"Delay in replacing submarine fleet a serious matter"

Wednesday 15 June 2005, by BHATT*Arunkumar

Admiral Prakash calls upon shipyards to increase their production

- Ageing submarines to start retiring from 2012

- Pakistan, Myanmar, Thailand acquiring modern fleets

- Project 75 envisages building 24 submarines by 2025-30

JPEG - 18.8 kb
Paul Noronha
ADDING TO THE MIGHT: Stealth frigate `INS Sahyadri’ slides down the Mazagon Dock’s slipway in Mumbai on Friday after the launching ceremony.

MUMBAI: The inordinate delay in the clearance of its crucial plan, "Project 75", concerning acquisition and building of submarines, was not only causing operational lacuna but also causing special skill and capabilities for building submarines to fritter away, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Arun Prakash said here on Friday at a ceremony hosted by Mazagon Docks to launch the Navy’s third stealth frigate, INS Sahyadri.

Later, talking to presspersons, Admiral Prakash said ageing submarines would start retiring from the service from 2012 and that the building of new ones to replace them must start now.

He said that Pakistan had acquired and built three submarines - the French Agosta B90 submarines which have long endurance because of their air independence propulsion system. The Pakistanis are planning to build at least three more submarines and are also looking for further additions to their inventory.

Odd man out

Admiral Prakash said that several countries around India, including Myanmar and Thailand, were acquiring submarines and India seemed to be the odd man out.

The delay in decision-making was causing tremendous cost overruns since the rising cost of the Euro. "Project 75" envisages the building of 24 submarines by 2025-2030. These reportedly include six French Scorpene submarines and six Russian Amur by Mazagon Docks and Larsen and Toubro.

The project was before the Cabinet Committee on Security for two years for final approval. "One presumes that there may be a very good reason for the delay," he said.

Admiral Prakash said that as against the Navy’s need to commission six to seven ships every year to be able to maintain its force level, it was getting only two to three ships.

He called upon the shipyards of the country to increase their production.

He said "Sahyadri" was 22 per cent complete at the time of launching and urged the Mazagon Dock to improve the completion to 35 to 40 per cent at the time of launch.

He called for a radical change in the work culture of the shipyard and suggested that it approached the Government for getting fresh investment for modernisation.

The Navy chief advised the Indian shipyards to look towards financially viable exports.

Admiral Prakash’s wife, Kum Kum Prakash, performed the launching ceremony

The 143-metre long and 16.9-metre wide warship slid into the high tide of the harbour at the press of a button, as the naval band played marching tunes.

For three years, INS Sahyadri would be fitted with weapons and censors for making it ready for commissioning.

Like INS Shivalik and INS Satpura, the warship weighs 4900 tonnes and is capable of attaining a speed in excess of 30 knots. It has a stealth character that reduces its signature and makes it difficult for enemy censors to detect it.

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