Sub Vela inducted into Indian Navy

Number of undersea vessels now 17, much less than China’s

Sub Vela inducted into Indian Navy

Indian naval officers during the commissioning ceremony of INS Vela submarine at Naval Dockyard in Mumbai on Thursday. PTI

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 25

The fourth in the series of Scorpene submarines, the INS Vela, was commissioned into the Indian Navy on Thursday following a brief ceremony in Mumbai. A total of six such vessels are to be made. The two are scheduled to join the fleet in 2022 and 2023.

Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL), Mumbai, is making the submarines under collaboration with the Naval Group of France.

With today’s addition, the number of undersea vessels with the Indian Navy goes up to 17, much less than the envisaged plan drawn out in 1999. The plan was to have 24 modern submarines by 2030.

It would be near impossible to meet this target. Of the 17 subs, four are the Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) German-origin, Shishumar-class boats that are in their fourth decade of service and running on an extended life and need to be phased out.

There are eight Russian Kilo-class boats, some of them older than three decades and need to undergo a mid-life upgrade. India operates one nuclear-powered submarine, the INS Arihant, and now four submarines of the Scorpene class.

Besides, the Ministry of Defence is working on having six next-generation stealth conventional submarines at a cost of $5.8 billion (Rs 42,000 crore). Bids have been invited from Indian and foreign companies.

On the other hand, China is racing to add submarines to its fleet. The US Department of Defence report “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2021” says: “Over the past 15 years, the Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has constructed 12 nuclear submarines and, by 2025, it is expected to make 25 Yuan-class conventional submarines.”

The PLAN will likely maintain between 65 and 70 submarines through the 2020s, replacing older units with more capable units on a near one-to-one basis, the report said.

Despite modern technology, tracing a submerged submarine at sea is a Herculean task and the submarine remains the most potent threat at sea.

To be part of Western Naval Command

  • Scorpene submarines have advanced stealth features
  • Equipped with long-range guided torpedoes
  • Carry a state-of-the-art sonar and sensor suite

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