Navy to power ahead with two new warships
Destroyer, Kamorta class frigate to be commissioned after Budget session
The first ship of Project-15A — a destroyer to be named INS Kolkata — may be commissioned in Mumbai in late August or September, once the budget session ends on August 14. Within weeks, a Kamorta class frigate meant for anti-submarine warfare may be inducted at Visakhapatnam.
Inclusion of the two ships in the service would give a “quantum jump” to the Navy’s surface warfare capability, Navy Chief Admiral R K Dhowan said at the Naval Commanders’ Conference that ended in the capital on Thursday.
After the overhauling of the naval top brass, this was the first conference for top officers to discuss the Navy’s operational readiness.
INS Kolkata will be followed by the induction of two more destroyers in the next two years. They are in the same 6000-tonne class of destroyers like INS Delhi, INS Mysore and INS Mumbai, which the Navy operates at the moment.
Their induction, however, has been delayed by three years and is associated with the unfortunate death of a young officer at Mazgaon dock in the construction phase.
The commissioning of the new warships comes in the wake of induction of aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, which makes India the only Asian nation to operate two aircraft carriers as the aged warhorse INS Viraat is still in service.
Admiral Dhowan also reviewed the progress made in increasing the runway length of India’s eastern-most airstrip in the Campbell Bay in Andaman and Nicobar islands.
The air station, INS Baaz (hawk), was made operational two years ago with the purpose of keeping an eye on the strategic Malacca strait through which bulk of the Chinese oil and cargo moves.
The plan was to increase the runway length from 3,500 ft to 6,000 ft and subsequently to 9,000 ft so that multiple strategic aircraft like the C-130 J and C-17 can land there, sources said. So far, the Navy’s P8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft and the Indian Air Force’s C-130J have landed at INS Baaz.
In addition, the Navy is developing air enclaves at Shivpur and Diglipur (both in Andaman) as well as in Bhubaneswar, Kakinada and Tuticorin on the east coast.
Admiral Dhowan also discussed capability gaps resulting from the ageing submarine fleet, shortage of helicopters in the fleet and mine counter measure vessels with his commanders and informed them of the assurance Defence Minister Arun Jaitley has given to the Navy Chief.