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INS Visakhapatnam: Another Milestone Towards ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ – Analysis

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India commissioned an indigenously developed warship (INS Visakhapatnam) on November 21, 2021. The ship is being regarded as one of the most potent warships to have been constructed in India. It has been named after the historic city of Andhra Pradesh situated on the east coast and famous as ‘City of Destiny’. 

The warships production was taken-up as Project 15B (P15B) and was signed in January 2011 as a follow-up of the Kolkata Class (Project 15A) destroyers which were commissioned over the last decade. India with this class of destroyers has taken a great leap forward towards: (i) achieving self-reliance in defence production; (ii) augment the Naval force with mobility, reach and flexibility within the Indian Ocean Region (IOR); (iii) accomplish the role and task of net security provider within the IOR amidst changing power dynamics, and (iv) the acquisition has enhances its maritime security in the larger Indo-Pacific region which has gained increased prominence in view of Sino-Indian and Sino-US rivalry. The induction of Visakhapatnam is bound to add many feathers to India’s erstwhile naval capabilities and India’s maritime security. 

Project 15B:

Project 15B (P15B) is an inheritor to Project 15 and Project 15A, which have given the Navy advanced Delhi and Kolkata class of destroyers. P15B has four Visakhapatnam Class ships to be built. P15B Deal was signed in January 2011. The keel of Visakhapatnam was laid in October 2013 and was launched in 2015. The second ship Mormugao is presently undergoing sea trials, was launched in September 2016, and is expected to be commissioned in 2022. The third ship Imphal launched on April 20, 2019 is at an advanced stage of outfitting. Fourth one is under block erection and will be launched within the current financial year. BEL, L&T, BHEL, of India have played major roles towards providing onboard equipment and communication instruments. The P15B four ships have been named after cities such as: Visakhapatnam, Mormugao, Imphal and Surat. Visakhapatnam is the first in the series and also the lead ship of the Project 15B. According to the reports, the cumulative cost of building the four destroyers stands at over Rs.35,000 crore (other reports have pegged the cost at Rs.29,643.74 crores). 

Introducing INS Visakhapatnam:

Indian ship-builders Mazagaon Dock Ship-builders Ltd. (MDL) had delivered first of the four Destroyers on October 28, 2021. INS Visakhapatnam is a P15B Stealth Guided-Missile Destroyer. It has been formally commissioned in the Indian Navy on November 21, 2021 as stated above, at the Naval Dockyard at Mumbai. It is firsts of the four ‘Visakhapatnam’ class destroyers scheduled to be inducted into the Indian Navy. The new addition to Indian Navy is indeed another milestone towards India’s self-reliance in defence production.

The warship has been indigenously designed by the Navy’s in-house organization, the Directorate of Naval Design and constructed by Mazagaon Dock Limited (MDL). 

The Naval Ship has been built with indigenous steel DMR249, and among the largest destroyers constructed in India. It is 163 metres in length, 17 metres in breadth with a displacement of 7,400 tonnes. The ship can accommodate a crew of 312, has an endurance of 4,000 nautical miles and can carry out a typical 42 days mission with extended mission time in out of area operation. Following are the major features of this state-of-the-art ship:

  1. It is propelled by four powerful gas turbines, in a Combined Gas and Gas (COGAG) configuration. COGAG consist of four reversible gas turbines, which enables it to achieve a speed of over 30 knots or approximately 55km/hr. 
  2. It is so designed that it is capable of achieving speeds in excess of 30 knots and has stealth features resulting in reduced Radar Cross Section (RCS). 
  3. RCS has been achieved through efficient shaping of its hull, full beam superstructure design, plated masts and use of radar  radar transparent material on exposed decks. All these fittings would make the ship difficult to detect.
  4. The P15B ship have been proposed to be equipped to carry and operate two multi-role helicopters.
  5. The ship is packed with sophisticated state-of-the-art weapons and sensors, such as Surface to Surface Missile  (Brahmos) and Surface to Air Missiles (Barak-8). The ship is also fitted with modern surveillance radar, which provides target data to the gunnery weapon systems onboard. 
  6. Its anti-submarine warfare capabilities are equipped with indigenously developed rocket launchers, torpedo launchers and ASW helicopters.
  7. It is also equipped to fight under Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) warfare conditions.
  8. The ship boasts of a very high level of automation with sophisticated digital networks.
  9. The ship is laced with number of indigenously built equipment like Missiles, Torpedo Tubes and Launchers, Anti-submarine systems, Integrated Platform Management System, Automated Power Management System, Foldable Hangar Doors, Helo Traversing System, Combat Management System, Close-in Weapon System and Bow mounted SONAR (Humsa NG)  are to name but a few.   

Achieving Self-Reliance:

Commissioning of Visakhapatnam is indeed a milestone towards showcasing the capability and capacity of indigenously built complex combat platforms, which is quite obvious from above-given details of the on-board equipment. The induction of Visakhapatnam has not only enhanced combat readiness of the Indian Navy but it has also achieved a major leap forward towards India’s quest for Self-Reliance (Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan: It is the vision of Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi to make India a self-reliant nation, and realisation of his famous slogan “Make in India for the World”). This is quite obvious as the indigenous content is maximum onboard this ship. According to estimates, almost 75 percent of the ship contents are indigenously built. Indian ship industries have been achieving accolades one after the other. 

INS Visakhapatnam—Its Impact on Indian Security and Strategic Capacity:

It is quite obvious from the above details that the newly designed destroyer is with the concept for improved survivability, sea keeping, stealth and manoeuvrability alongside many other features that it has and which would facilitate it to perform several roles and tasks above the sea water as well as under it. Therefore, the newly acquired warship along with the Kolkata Class destroyers has added tremendous firepower and war-fighting capabilities to Indian Navy. 

Visakhapatnam is capable of undertaking multifarious tasks and missions, spanning the full-spectrum of maritime warfare. The complex combat platform has boosted the morale of Indian Naval forces as the platform will help towards enhancing the combat capacity and firepower. The induction would also empower the naval forces towards addressing the threats both under water and over water, as stated above.

Indian Navy has envisaged for itself to become a 170-ship force by 2027. This seems to be well on track. This has been pending for long in view of ageing fleet of over and underwater combat infrastructure. Presently, the Navy has around 130 ships. Even though it is being speculated that it may miss the deadline of 2027; yet the additions are morale boosters and strength-enhancers. Undoubtedly, this will boost Indian Navy’s combat capability in the face of China’s growing forays into the Indian Ocean Region. 

Conclusion:

Indian Navy has nearly 39 vessels of various types under construction, which includes an aircraft carrier; destroyers; frigates; corvettes; and conventional-powered and nuclear-powered submarines. Induction of Visakhapatnam is indeed a tribute to the collaborative efforts of a large number of stake-holders amidst challenges posed by Pandemic of COVID-19. This would certainly enhance maritime prowess of Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean Region. 

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