New Delhi: India today inducted its fourth anti-submarine warfare warship in six years, shoring up navy’s fighting capabilities against underwater threats, primarily from China‘s submarines that have sneaked too close to its territorial waters in the recent years.
Indian Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane commissioned INS Kavaratti, the last of the anti-submarine warfare stealth corvette built by Kolkata-headquartered Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited under Project 28.
INS Kavaratti belongs to the Kamorta class of corvettes that was first inducted into the Indian Navy in 2014 within months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi stormed to power in May that year to form the first majority government in 30 years in India.
The new corvette is part of Modi’s military modernisation plans to brace up to the twin challenge from India’s two nuclear-armed neighbours: China in the North and Pakistan in the West.
China began deploying warships in the Indian Ocean Region since 2007 on the pretext of carrying out anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. In the recent years, at least eight warships, including submarines, sail through the region at any given time.
Half of this flotilla are usually on a turnaround, according to Indian Navy officers. The submarines, in particular, have docked at ports in Pakistan and have sailed too close to Indian territorial waters, much to New Delhi’s chagrin.
The warship was commissioned at a cermony held at the Naval Dockyard in Visakhapatnam, where the Eastern Naval Command and the Eastern Naval Fleet are commanded from.
Eastern Naval Commander Vice Admiral Atul Kumar Jain and GRSE Chairman and Managing Director Rear Admiral Vipin Kumar Saxena (Retired) witnessed the induction ceremony. The ‘P31’ warship’s first commanding officer Commander Sandeep Singh read out the Commissioning Warrant, after which the Naval Ensign was hoisted on board the corvette for the first time and the breaking of the commissioning pennant took place.
“The event marks the formal commissioning into the navy of the last of the four ASW (anti-submarine warfare) corvettes, indigenously designed by the Indian Navy’s in-house Directorate General of Naval Design and constructed by GRSE,” a statement from the Ministry of Defence said.
Named after the capital of the Lakshadweep group of islands, INS Kavaratti has been constructed using special high strength warship grade DMR 249A steel produced in India. The newest Indian warship spans 109 metres in length, 14 metres in breadth, with a displacement of 3300 tonnes.
“It can rightfully be regarded as one of the most potent anti-submarine warships to have been constructed in India,” the Indian Navy said about the corvette that can seek and sink Chinese submarines.
“Kavaratti has a state-of-the-art weapons and sensor suite capable of detecting and prosecuting submarines. In addition to its anti-submarine warfare capability, the ship also has a credible self defence capability and good endurance for long-range deployment,” the statement said.
The complete superstructure of the ship has been built using composite material. This new age material has led to an overall reduced weight, which in turn led to significant speed and manoeuverability improvement, and increased stability of over 20 per cent.
The ship is propelled by four diesel engines and has enhanced stealth features, resulting in reduced Radar Cross Section (RCS) achieved by ‘X’ form of superstructure along with optimally sloped surfaces. The ship’s advanced stealth features make her less susceptible to detection by the enemy.
“This dominant platform is utilised for neutralising enemy submarines by using weapons like torpedoes, rocket launchers and helicopters. The warship has been designed with an indigenous content of over 81 per cent,” the GRSE said in a statement.
The unique feature of this ship is the high level of indigenisation at 90 per cent, incorporated in the production, with the use of carbon composites for the superstructure, accentuating Modi’s national objective of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat, including its equipment and systems to fight in Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) warfare conditions.
Also, the weapons and sensors suite onboard is pre-dominantly indigenous and showcases the nation’s evolving capability in this niche area. Some of the major equipment and systems developed indigenously include Combat Management System, Torpedo Tube Launchers and Infra-Red Signature Suppression System.
INS Kavaratti has a multitude of advanced automation systems such as Total Atmospheric Control System (TACS), Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS), Integrated Bridge System (IBS), Battle Damage Control System (BDCS) and Personnel Locator System (PLS) to provide a contemporary and process oriented system-of-systems for optimal functioning of the warship.
Having completed sea trials of all her equipment, Kavaratti has been commissioned as a fully combat-ready platform after completing sea trials of all the weapons and systems fitted onboard, providing a boost to the ASW capability of the Indian Navy. The ship is the reincarnation of the erstwhile Arnala Class missile corvette of the same name (INS Kavaratti – P 80).
Kavaratti in her previous avatar had served for two decades and had participated in the 1971 war for the liberation of Bangladesh. During the 1971 war, the warship was deployed for contraband control in the Bay of Bengal and the support of mining of entrances to Chittagong. The warship captured the Pakistani Merchant Ship Baqir during the 1971 operation.
In the present avatar, Kavaratti is equally powerful and packs an even more deadly punch. With a maximum speed of 25 knots, and an endurance of over 3400 NM at 18 knots speed, the warship is manned by a team comprising 12 officers and 134 sailors.
GRSE is currently executing three major shipbuilding projects: the P17A Project for three Advanced Stealth Frigates, four Survey Vessels (Large) and eight Anti-Submarine Warfare Shallow Water Craft.
The shipyard plans to deliver the last ship of the Landing Craft Utility Class by the year-end and the first P17A ship is expected to be launched in December, well ahead of schedule. GRSE has a strong order book of Rs 26,544 crore ($3.6 billion) as of Mar. 31.