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Indian Navy – Flag Bearer For Making In India
Our indigenously built ships can be compared with the best in the world in their class
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The Indian Navy has been the front runner in the indigenisation efforts of the three services.The Indian Navy’s Directorate of Naval Design (DND) has designed over 80 ships since the commencement of the indigenous ship building programme in the 1960s. More than 40 state-of-the-art ships and submarines are at present under construction in Indian shipyards, both public and private. However, a need still exists for a sound plan for technology development in the overall context of shipbuilding and production mechanism for complex ship-borne systems, while cutting down on long ship build periods.
The Directorate of Naval Design (DND) of the Indian Navy is a unique organisation with an ability to design and oversee construction of various classes of ships. This organisation has designed more than 19 different warship designs, i.e. from modest patrol vessels in the 1960s to the mighty destroyers of Projects 15A and 15B (the Kolkata Class and the Visakhapatnam Class warships respectively), right up to the first indigenous aircraft carrier, the Vikrant, which is currently under construction at the Cochin Shipyards. All these projects are shining examples of the Indian Navy’s focus on indigenisation and the Make in India philosophy. The advantages of indigenisation are obvious.
Indigenisation not only propels the navy forward as a self-reliant force but also cuts down costs. It reduces dependence on foreign vendors and governments. Even though our major warships are being constructed by PSU shipyards now, the navy supports private shipyards in the ship-construction matrix too. A number of ships like the Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) etc. are being constructed in private shipyards.
Apart from the Directorate of Naval Design, the navy also has a Directorate of Indigenization (DOI) in Delhi and Indigenization Units (IUs) at various commands to implement indigenisation in letter and spirit. The Navy has also brought out a document called the Indian Navy Indigenization Plan (INIP) for the period spanning from 2015 to 2030. The plan has been shared with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for wide publicity and greater participation from industry. The navy has also prepared a ‘Science and Technology Roadmap 2025’ that aims to develop indigenous technology for naval applications.
Unlike a merchant ship, the functionality of a naval ship/submarine along with its ship-building material, equipment and systems onboard can be classified into three categories:
l Float: This category encompasses materials, equipment and systems associated with hull structures and fittings, which ensure floatability of the ship, including auxiliary systems like pumping and flooding, firefighting and life-saving equipment.
l Move: Equipment of this category comprises propulsion systems along with their control systems, fuel systems and power generation diesel/ gas/ steam turbine engines, alternators, associated control systems, air-conditioning and ventilation systems and other ship systems.
l Fight: Equipment under this category encompasses all types of ship-borne weapons and sensors and systems that directly impact the combat capability of the ship.
The Indian Navy has been able to achieve a very high degree of indigenisation in the ‘Float’ and ‘Move’ categories, depending on the type of propulsion. However, in the ‘Fight’ category we need to increase our level of indigenisation. Some of the major equipment, where there is tremendous scope for improvement, are weapons and sensors, propulsion systems (especially gas turbines), gear boxes etc., which are at present being imported.
The Indian Navy is working closely with various public and private partners in the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model to bridge this capability gap and a number of projects are underway for indigenous development of weapons and sensors, along with propulsion systems and controls. The Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL) Hyderabad, in collaboration with the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) and active participation of the Indian Navy, has successfully undertaken the indigenous development and production of warship-grade ‘DMR249A’ steel plates and bulb structural sections for ship and submarine applications. This is a major step forward in our march towards self-reliance and unshackling ourselves from the pressures of foreign vendors to supply warship grade steel.
Important achievements in the Float and Move category are Hull construction materials, anchor capstans, boats and davits, boilers, RO plants, pumps, steering gear, AC and ventilation, high-capacity compressors, control systems for main propulsion plants, submarine batteries, Integrated Platform Management Systems (IPMS) and Integrated Machinery Control Systems (IMCS), Automatic Power Management Systems (APMS), Battle Damage Control Systems (BDCS) etc. We also have had significant successes in the Fight category, which includes weapons and sensors, important among which are Electronic Warfare and Anti-Submarine Warfare systems, torpedo and rocket launcher tubes, combat management systems, Net Centric Operations systems like data link systems, communication suites, supersonic missiles etc. In all these developments our association with DRDO, BEL, BHEL, ECIL, BDL and private industry like L&T, Mahindra Defence, Tatas etc. has been very productive.
The Indian Navy has acquired adequate expertise in the hull design and construction of various types of warships. In the field of propulsion systems (barring marine gas turbines) and related auxiliaries, support services like air conditioning, refrigeration, etc., adequate expertise and production capabilities are available in the country, perhaps due to commonality of requirements of the civilian sector. We are also reasonably self-sufficient in power generation and distribution systems, communication systems, Combat Management Systems, Sonars and Electronic Warfare Systems.
The DRDO has been subject to some amount of criticism, but the Indian Navy’s association with the organisation for naval equipment has been a success story in many disciplines like Electronic Warfare and Anti-Submarine Warfare systems. We also have a naval organisation called WESEE (Weapons and Electronics Systems Establishment), which has rendered yeoman service to the overall indigenisation effort through its series of world-class Combat Management Systems and data-link systems, now being manufactured by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL).
The Indian Navy has been a strong flag bearer of the Make in India campaign for decades. The result has been a very high level of indigenisation, which is really world class. Our indigenously built ships can be compared with the best in the world in their class.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.