M A I N   N E W S

MoD clears Navy plans to get 16 shallow-water anti-sub vessels
KV Prasad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 25
The plans of the Indian Navy to acquire 16 indigenously built shallow-water anti-submarine vessels, for which it has received clearance from the Defence Ministry, takes forward the project that fits into their overall task of defending the long coastline in the changed maritime security environment of the region.

The Defence Acquisition Council headed by Defence Minister AK Antony this week accorded Acceptance of Necessity to the Indian Navy for the Rs 13,440 crore project that envisages these vessels as a replacement for the existing Abhay-class corvettes commissioned between 1989 and 1991.

The four vessels -- INS Abhay, Ajay, Akshay and Agray -- have been in service for over two decades with the Indian Navy. These are customised variants of the Russian Pauk-class corvettes.

The Navy has expressed interest to procure new vessels under the ‘Buy Indian’ category. Under this, Indian shipyards will be asked to build these ships and the yards in turn, can seek design from a foreign partner.

Over the past few years, several Indian companies have shown interest in building ships for the Indian Navy and some of them have entered into collaboration with foreign ship builders. The effort is part of the government move to expand the domestic defence manufacturing base and begin the process of reversing over-dependence on imports.

Explaining the strategic importance of shallow-water anti-submarine vessels, Commodore Ranjit B Rai (retd), former Director, Naval Intelligence and Operations, said: “These will be a replacement for the Abhay class and will provide defence against any special operating vessels (Midgets) including those operated by Pakistan and China close to the harbour.”

The anti-submarine vessels are deployed to tackle and destroy underwater threats and also undertake low-intensity maritime operations. These are equipped with torpedoes and missiles and SONAR detection equipment to ferret out submarines in shallow waters.

The DAC clearance for acquisition of two Deep Submergence Rescue Vessels by the Indian Navy is also long pending. These vessels are required to go under water to bring up the personnel from disabled submarines.

The decision comes in the backdrop of the August 14 INS Sindhurakshak accident in Mumbai and also at a time when the Indian Navy is set to expand its fleet of underwater boats. At present, the Navy operates Kilo, Shishumar and Foxtrot-class submarines with another six Scorpene class -- currently being built with French collaboration at Mazagon docks in Mumbai -- also scheduled to join the service over the next few years.





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